Jesuit Persecution

 Most of the following information is from the Congleton Chronicle archived published in 1937

Preceding the gunpowder plot of 1605, the Catholics of Britain, and all other religions were being persecuted; in fact no less than 5560 were accused of holding different faiths from King and Parliament. All those who could afford were to pay 20 a month or forfeit 2/3rd of their land, also none attendance of church carried a prison sentence. It is therefore not surprising to learn that a small group of Catholic Jesuits from Biddulph would meet on desolate and rugged banks of Mow Cop to hold mass and communion. It is also believed that a shepherd heard their communion bells and thought they were his sheep, upon further investigation he discovered the Jesuits, this then lead to their prosecution.

The following is part of an old tract published in 1642 by J Thomson and A. Coe, at the order of Charles I.

"At a place neer the common great road betwixt London and Manchester in Staffordshire, called Moule Cop, in the English Maps, but in the old Saxon Language Hiperbolian Talke, which is a large Hill in English, as talke of the Hill which signifies a bush on a Hill: Mow this Moule Cop Hill is a vast sublime place very mountanous and devious no common passage over it, but what Carriages have happened to come thither for Milstones, which have formerly been gotten there, serving all those parts with Milstones and grinding stones, which now are-not there to be gotten, by reason two Lords of that soyle are at strife and variance there, about contesting for the Seigniory. This Hill is foure or five miles from the top to the bottome, and on the top is a large Plain, wherin those Milstones have beene gotten out; And the place where the great Querries were, and in depth in the hill top four score yards, and in length and latitude a hundred yards round each way; And over the top of that Hill goeth a straight line which divideth Staffordshire and Cheshire assunder." In this devious desart place divers Papists have met at their Papish Masse and other common prayer in latin and as it is known now, they have during this parliament by stealth frequented this place and some other desarts(which are common in this country) by reason (as they confessed before Justice Biddulph upon their several examinations) that the parliament putting the laws into execution against them, they say ‘ they may be compared to the children of Israel who were forced by their taskmasters both to seek straw and yet to make their whole tale of bricks."