Founding Father Robert Yates

In 1646, Robert Yates came from Preston to Warrington to take up the appointment of Rector at the Parish Church. In 1649, during the struggles on the organisation of religion, Yates found himself disagreeing with the Parliamentary organisation of Independent worship and spoke out against it and refused to subscribe to the orders. For this objection, he was arrested and tried at Lancaster Castle where he was convicted and sentenced to death. Determined not to retract his objection, it was whilst he was writing his last speech and testament that he was reprieved.

Robert Yates returned to Warrington to continue as Rector until in 1662, with the restoration of the Stuart Monarchy, Ministers of Religion had to accept the Act of Uniformity to preach. Yates refused and was forced to leave the Parish Church, shortly after he was denounced under the Five Mile Act for preaching and sent to prison again. He continued to preach and in 1672 Charles II relaxed conditions for Dissenters and allowed the issue of licences both for preachers and places of worship.

Robert Yates obtained a general licence to preach at some of the homes of his flock and in a room at the Court House.

Today, we are free to believe what we feel is true to ourselves and not to have our beliefs imposed by state or church. Men and women like the Revd. Robert Yates were imprisoned to obtain that right. We should be eternally thankful for their fight for our freedoms.