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An Unsettled Ministry? Some Aspects of Nineteenth-Century British Nonconformity

  • Kenneth D. Brown (a1)

Extract

As befits its importance in the nineteenth century, British nonconformity has attracted a lot of attention from scholars. Eminent personalities and denominational development or doctrine tend to dominate the earlier writing, while another long-established genre which is still producing fruitful work has been the analysis of the impact of nonconformity in society at large, for example in national or local politics, trade unionism, and education.

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The research on which this paper is based was financed by grants from the Social Science Research Council (now the Economic and Social Research Council) and the Twenty Seven Foundation.

1. For some excellent recent examples, see Bebbington, David, The Nonconformist, Conscience: Chapel and Politics, 1870–1914 (London, 1982);Hempton, David, Methodism and Politics in British Society, 1750–1850 (London, 1984).

2. For example, Binfield, Clyde, So Down to Prayers: Studies in English Nonconformity, 1780–1920 (London, 1977);Currie, Robert, Gilbert, Alan, and Horsely, Lee, Churches and Church Goers: Patterns of Church Growth in the British Isles since 1700 (Oxford, 1977);Gilbert, Alan D., Religion and Society in Industrial England, 1740–1914 (London, 1976);Valeize, Deborah, Prophetic Sons and Daughters: Female Preaching and Popular Religion in Industrial England (Princeton, 1986).

3. Figures calculated from Congregational Year Book (1847) and taken from Currie, Gilbert, and Horsely, , Churches, pp. 203210.

4. Inquirer, 12 December 1874.

5. Spectator, 24 March 1894.

6. Samuel Cowling, “Biographical Dictionary of Baptist Ministers of Great Britain and Ireland Deceased from 1800 to the Close of 1875,” preface. Bound manuscript. Baptist Union Library, London,.

7. Methodist Recorder, 8 August 1873, 24 October 1912.

8. Baptist, 26 June 1874; English Independent, 16 January 1873.

9. There was much argument in Congregational circles about this matter in the last years of the century. The most convincing statistical presentation was made by the secretary of the Congregational Union at the end of 1894. He calculated that there were then about 271 vacant chapels and 258 unemployed ministers. Independent and Nonconformist, 3 January 1895.

10. Calculated from information in Spurgeon's College, Register of Students, 1880–1889. Spurgeon's College Archives, uncatalogued. Spurgeon did not place a major emphasis on his students's academic qualities. He was not willing, he said, to turn away zealous men just because they were poor and had sparse education. See Dallimore, Arnold, Spurgeon (Chicago, 1984), p. 102. For the criticisms of this approach see British Weekly, 26 March 1891.

11. Lancashire Independent College, Register of Students. Northern Congregational College, Manchester.

12. Quoted in Percy Evans, “The Ideal Training for the Ministry,” Baptist Quarterly 3 (1926–1927): 69.

13. Rev. Alliott in Thomas Wilson, 18 January 1828. New College Archives 331/15. Dr. Williams Library, London.

14. Charles Radcliffe to John Shipman, 24 November 1824. Methodist Archives, Manchester, PLP 43–16–4.

15. Budd, Susan, Varieties of Unbelief (London, 1977), pp. 105108.

16. Makepeace, John Foster, All I Could Never Be (Oxford, 1924).

17. Dawson, William James, Autobiography of a Mind (London, 1925).

18. Gregory, Benjamin, Autobiographical Recollections (London, 1903), p. 30.

19. J. Bell to Miss Bell, 17 May 1826. Methodist Archives, Manchester, PLP 8–6–2.

20. John Shipman to Jabez Bunting, 2 July 1834. Ibid., 97–8–10.

21. John H. James to Jabez Bunting, 13 July 1839. Ibid., 61–4–17.

22. Sharpley, Arthur E., The Life of David James Waller DD (London, 1913), p. 70.

23. H. Ransom to Jabez Bunting, 18 June 1845. Methodist Archives, Manchester, PLP 86–20–8.

24. Adamson, William, The Life of the Rev. Joseph Parker DD (London, 1902), p. 68.

25. “Selections from the Letters of the Late Rev William Best BA,” Baptist Magazine 69 (1877): 208209.

26. R. Newland to Thomas Wilson, 2 January 1828. New College Archives 331/8. Dr. Williams Library, London.

27. Nonconformist, 28 July 1852.

28. Letter from “A Lover of Truth,” published in Patriot, 23 February 1852.

29. James, John Angell, Church Members' Guide (London, 1850), P. 60.

30. Christian World, 1 September 1871.

31. Watchman, 31 March 1852. The criticism produced Kendall, James, Remarks on Pastoral Visitation among the Wesleyans (London, 1852).

32. Evangelical Magazine 32 (1854): 3.

33. Crowther, Jonathan, Strictures on Petitioning for Preachers among the Methodists (London, 1809), p. 6.

34. Skeats, Herbert S., “Statistics Relating to the Support of Religious Institutions in England and Wales,” Journal of the Statistical Society 39 (1876): 333.

35. Davies, SteIla, North Country Bred (London, 1963), p. 78.

36. For details see Ward, William Reginald, Religion and Society in England, 1790–1850 (1972), pp. 101104.

37. Thomas Burrows to the Wesleyan General Committee, 10 January 1851. Methodist Archives, Manchester, PLP 21–11–5.

38. Macdonald, Fredrick W., ed., The Letters of James Macdonald, 1816–1831 (London, n.d.), p. 40.

39. Binfield, , So Down to Prayers, p. 18. See also Jones, R.Tudur, Congregationalism in England, 1662–1962 (1962), p. 227, n. 7.

40. Cited in Evans, David E., As Mad as a Hatter (1982), pp. 144145.

41. Young, Kenneth, Chapel: The Joyful Days and Prayerful Nights of the Nonconformists in their Heyday: c1850–1950 (1972), p. 165.

42. Cited in Jones, , Congregationalism in England, p. 229.

43. Congregational Magazine (1844), p. 127.

44. T.Lamb to Thomas Wilson, 6 February 1827. New College Archives 331/2. Dr. Williams Library, London.

45. General Baptist Repository 74 (1872): 303.

46. Brockett, Allan, Nonconformity in Exeter, 1650–1875 (Manchester, 1962), p. 204. Further details of Baptist salaries are given in Makepeace, , All I Could Never Be, p. 3.

47. Quoted in Congregationalist 3 October 1874): 631.

48. Bassett, T. Myrfyn, The Welsh Baptists (Swansea, 1977), p. 285.

49. Christian World, 22 January 1891. Figures from 27 April 1911.

50. Independent and Nonconformist, 28 March 1891,31 January 1895.

51. Baptist Times and Freeman, 4 April 1913.

52. Freeman, 14 July 1871, 1 September 1893.

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