Timothy Bright Rector

Priest for 24 years from 1591 to 1615, although the village wouldn’t have been very sure of that, because he wasn’t there very often, he was described by the later Rector, Dr Lucius Smith as a ‘very negligent pastor to his flock’.

In addition to his position at Methley he was accepted as Parson of the parish of Barwick-in-Elmet in 1594 where he took up residence.

Timothy Bright’s negligence had been noted earlier when the new Lord of the Manor, Mr. Savile had a spat with him over certain tithes.   He had been hauled before his Bishop and the Archbishop of York on numerous occasions mostly on matters regarding neglect of the parish and the rites of the church. It was claimed that since his inception the catechism was not being taught according to church requirements and that he seldom attended morning prayers or evening prayers on Saturday.    He was not always available for baptism and marriages, even the dead were being buried by laymen contrary to the usage of the church.

Timothy Bright would have been among the first of churchmen to be ordained in accordance with the new form of faith after the reformation.   However this was not the reason for the dereliction of his duties. It would seem that the blessed incumbent had other things on his mind.

Before taking holy orders he had studied and worked in medicine and it would appear that negligence to his parochial duties was the result of his continued interest in medical matters.   He, it seemed preferred blood letting and administering potions rather than administering the word. Evidence some of the journals and books to which he claimed authorship :-  A Treatise on Melancholia, an early shrink? and Therapeutica on Restoring Health.   He enjoyed the protection of Queen Elizabeth with her letters patent authorising him to the teaching and production of learned books.
The introduction of the word spa to the english language in 1596 is attributed to Timothy Bright. Who on reading an article written by Mr. WM Slingsby about the medicinal properties of the waters taken at the town of Spa in the Ardennes region of Belgium.    Bright dubbed Harrogate the english spaw referring to the waters found in that place.    In those days the taking of the waters was deemed to be more advantageous than bathing in them.

His most well known work and publication was a book entitled An Arte of Short, Swifte and Secrete Writing by Character.   Yes, he was the inventor of an early form of shorthand and published the first book on the subject. Isaac Pitman eat your heart out!
Its not difficult to deduce that rates of pay at the infirmary did not compare with benefaction from the two parishes, its my opinion that the much derided Timothy was applying his talents to the betterment of man in a different and subsidised way.

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