Tyne and Wear HER(15804): Newcastle, Pilgrim Street, house of William Durant - Details
Newcastle, Pilgrim Street, house of William Durant
Religious Ritual and Funerary
Nonconformist Meeting House
William Durant had come to Newcastle in 1645 appointed by the common council to St. Nicholas' lecture at a salary of £80. He was one of the most prominent local dissenting ministers during the Protectorate. He married a sister of James Clavering. In May 1662 the Act of Uniformity was passed which made the use of the new Book of Common Prayer compulsory and required that clergymen who had not been ordained by a bishop were reordained. As an Independent, Durant was ejected from All Saints Church by the Act of Uniformity on 24 August 1662. William Durant had a house in Pilgrim Street (site of Tyneside Cinema) from which he secretly preached to a congregation largely drawn from St. Nicholas but also from All Saints. When he died in 1681 he was denied burial in consecrated ground because he was a dissenter. He was buried in his garden. His son, John, laid a stone over the gave which read [in Latin]: JOHN DURANT, HIS SON, IN GREAT GRIEF AND SORROW AND AS AN ACT OF DUTY AND PIETY, PLACED THIS MARBLE GRAVESTONE OVER THE BODY OF HIS VENERABLE FATHER, WILLIAM DURANT M.A., BY THE GRACE OF GOD, A MOST FAITHFUL PASTOR OF THE CHURCH OF CHRIST IN THIS CITY. JOSHUA, CHAPTER 24, VERSES 29, 30, 32 AND 33. 1681". The house stood near the gates of Newe House (HER 4931) until Sir Walter Blackett acquired the mansion and demolished the house to build stables. The gravestone was kept under the stairs in the stables, the place named 'dead man's hole' by the stablemen. Richard Grainger later demolished the stables and recovered the gravestone. In 1811 George Anderson of Anderson Place presented it to Rev. William Turner, Unitarian minister in Hanover Square (HER 7688) and it was placed in the chapel yard. It was subsequently built into the new Church of the Divine Unity (HER 5970) in New Bridge Street in 1854 and transferred to the new Unitarian Church in Ellison Place (HER 6245) in 1939, where it is located on the wall in the outer vestibule. William Durant is considered to be the 'Father of the Congregation' of the Church of the Divine Unity. After his death, in 1683, his congregation joined that of Richard Gilpin M.D. at the New Meeting in Close Gate (HER 15803).
Unitarians at Ellison Place, Church Folder, p 13