The Rev Richard Malone, the first vicar of St Matthew's, faced a major challenge in his missionary work. It is perhaps indicative of his work that the first person who was baptised was not a young child, but William Brown, aged 27, son of a harness maker.
The baptism register also provides an interesting picture of the occupations of the local people in the early 1850s, reflecting the local employers. They included: a tobacco spinner, commissioner in bankruptcy, civil servants, brewer, piano makers and tuners, teachers, soldiers, lay vicars (for the Abbey) , stone mason, woodcutter, painter and chemist.
The clergy and congregation faced some hostility from members of the local population which consisted of disturbances during services and on one occasion, there was an assault made on someone while they were reading the lesson.