What is the Sleightholme link to Joseph Pilmoor?

The obituary in the Malton Gazette of May 30 1903 of my Great Great Grandfather Joseph Sleightholme led me to investigate the great American missionary Joseph Pilmoor. The newspaper report read as follows: Death of Mr Joseph Sleightholme of Little Barugh

Those who knew the "grand old man" of village Methodism, Mr. Joseph Sleightholme of Little Barugh, will hear with some amount of surprise of his sudden demise which took place on Thursday morning about 3 o'clock at the ripe old age of 76 years. Though he had for some time, shown signs of failing health, especially in sight and in memory, he continued to visit the various markets, and on Sundays carried on his preaching appointments the last service being conducted in Little Barugh chapel on the 26th April. Deceased was a native of Fadmoor, and his early manhood was spent at Farndale. He was a relative of Pilmoor, the American missionary.

Following this report I was determined to find the connection and something about this man Pilmoor. I went to Malton library and found this extract from a book called "Romantic Ryedale" by Joan & Bill Spence.

"A Fadmoor man Joseph Pilmoor, and Richard Boardman of Gillamoor visited Leeds in 1769 to hear John Wesley. They were converted to Methodism and were responsible for its foundation in these two small Yorkshire villages. Wishing to undertake further service to their newly found religion they put themselves at the disposal of the brethren. They were sent to America where they separated. Pilmoor going to Philadelphia and Boardman to New York. Boardman stayed only four years but Pilmoor stayed longer. He eventually returned to Fadmoor where he made an appeal for foreign missions in England. With their connections with American Methodism through these two men, Fadmoor and Gillamoor organised a three day open meeting in 1866, and the centenary of their departure for their mission to the "wilderness" was marked by the construction of a chapel at Gillamoor. It is a strong building, and a worthy memorial to the two men who helped prepare the way for the ten million Methodists in the United States today."

Some of Joseph Pilmoor's Letters to John Wesley show that they did not always agree on the future path of Methodism. But there is no doubt of his influence in N. America and the famous Liberty Tree is almost certainly the "very large tree on a fine piece of ground" under which Joseph Pilmoor preached the first Methodist sermon in Maryland on July 11, 1772. The Liberty Tree in Maryland is on the grounds of St. John's college in Annapolis.

I have found that Joseph Pilmore married Mary Benezet Wood in 1790 in Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

More information is to be found on a recently published book called "Water from the Moors" by the late Isobel Anne McLean The author has carefully researched the life of the famous engineer Joseph Foord who was famous for building a water course and aqueduct from Rievaulx all the way across the moors to give water to Fadmoor and Gillamoor which have no water sources. This remarkable man, and his story is told in the book, had a skeleton in his cupboard, that he was the father of Joseph Pilmoor! He made a girl pregnant called Sarah Pilmoor but did not marry her, Joseph Pilmoor was to grow up fatherless until William Sleightholme (from my line) came along and married her and they then produced issue of further Sleightholme's. The story is told in the book and it is a fascinating account.

© 2001-2007 Andrew Sefton