The increased size of the congregation necessitated some expansion of the Crook Street chapel, and so it was decided that a gallery would be built.  The work started on April 7, 1707, cost 85 English pounds, and subscriptions covered this amount.  By Matthew Henry’s reckoning, his congregation, by that time, had more than 350 communicants, with about 300 normally present.  Though he wrote that there was “a great deal of comfort and unanimity among us, and my ministry well-accepted,” yet he had discouragements, as well.  At the end of 1707, he wrote in his diary,

As to my ministry here, Mr. Mainwaring’s leaving me, and his wife has been very much my discouragement.  But Providence ordered it that Mr. Harvey’s congregation are generally come in to us, or else we began to dwindle, so that I should have gone on very heavily.

It is difficult to estimate accurately the numbers attending his congregation.  If 300 communicants were present, then many others must have been attending, also, including the children of the communicants.  According to the statistics compiled by Dr. John Evans between 1715 and 1718, the number of Presbyterian hearers in Chester numbered 1,000.  For the whole of Cheshire in the early eighteenth century, eighteen Presbyterian congregations existed, with 8,000 hearers.  This meant that, out of a total population for Cheshire of 111,700, the Presbyterians accounted for 7.25%.  By comparison, the General and Particular Baptists had only seven congregations, with 330 hearers, this number being only 0.3% of the total population.

From: Matthew Henry (1662-1714): His Life and Influence by Alan M. Harman (Fearn: Christian Focus, 2012), pp. 101-102.

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