James Bell (Catholic Priest)

Born 1524
Died 20 Apr 1584
Aged 59 or 60

A statue of Blessed Fr. James Bell in St. Werburgh’s Church, Birkenhead.
Author: Kitgehrke and used under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

James Bell (1524 – 20 April 1584) was an English Catholic priest and the only one of the Marian Priests that is known to have suffered martyrdom.

He was born at Warrington in Lancashire, in 1524, was educated at Oxford University, where he was ordained priest in Queen Mary’s reign. For some time he refused to conform to the alterations in religion made by Queen Elizabeth; but afterwards, adopting the tenets of the Reformation, he exercised the functions of a minister of the Church of England for twenty years.

In 1581 he solicited a lady to use her good offices to procure for him a small Readership, of which her husband was the patron. This lady, being a Catholic, induced him to be reconciled to the Church. Moved by her words he sought reconciliation with the Catholic Church in 1581, and after “spending some months devoting himself to penance and spiritual exercises, applying himself to the study of the Breviary, the ceremonies of the Holy Mass, the Sacraments and the other duties of his priesthood”, he was allowed to resume priestly functions. He laboured zealously as a missionary priest for two years among the poorer Catholics, in nearly all of the Catholic Houses and Mass-centres in Lancashire,

In January 1584, while travelling on foot from one Catholic house to another, he asked directions of a man who turned out to be a spy. Bell was apprehended by this pursuivant at Golborne, and imprisoned in Salford Gaol. He was later brought to trial at the Lent Assizes at Lancaster “on horseback with his arms being pinioned and his legs bound under the horse”, a painful form of transportation. His trial was heard along with that of the layman John Finch, and Thomas Williamson and Richard Hutton who were also both Catholic priests.

He was interrogated by Justices Huddleston and Parker on 18 April 1584. Bell was about sixty years of age, and somewhat hard of hearing, so did not hear all that was said to him, and did not always reply. This was taken as a sign that his constancy was failing, so the next day, 19 April, they sought to terrify him with the description of the manner of his death, but he was unmoved by this.

Finally they asked him whether he had been reconciled (to the Catholic Church) or not. He admitted that he had and they said “oh that is High Treason”, as the law of the time stipulated for Catholic priests in England. However, Bell replied: “it is nothing else than the Holy Sacrifice of Penance”. The Court is said to have been filled with laughter and scorn on hearing this, Bell then said: “I forgive sins not by mine own power, but because I am a priest and have authority to absolve from sins”.

James Bell behaved with great courage, and on being convicted said to the judge: “I beg your lordship, for the love of God, to add to the sentence that my lips and the tops of my fingers may be cut off for having sworn and subscribed to the articles of heretics, contrary both to my conscience and to God’s truth.”

The night before his execution was spent in prayer and meditation and he is said to have, in few words, exhorted all condemned prisoners to the Catholic faith and true repentance. He then asked his companion, John Finch, to instruct them more at large, as he was elderly and at that point weakened by the privations he had endured.

On the morning of his execution, 20 April 1584, he is said to have said, “O blessed day, O the fairest day that I ever saw in my life”, he then refused an Anglican Minister’s services saying: “for I will not believe thee nor hear thee but against my will”. When he was taken off the hurdle that had carried him to the place of his death, the executioners forced him to look upon John Finch, who was being quartered at that time. When he saw the hangman pull out Finch’s bowels he said, “O why do I tarry so long behind my sweet brother; let me make haste after him. This is a most happy day”. He is then said to have prayed for all Catholics and for the conversion of all heretics.

Bell was hanged and quartered at Lancaster Castle on 20 April 1584. John Finch, a layman, suffered at the same time and place for being reconciled to the Catholic Church, and denying the Queen’s spiritual supremacy. Fr. James Bell was among the 108 martyrs beatified by Pope Pius XI on 15 December 1929.


Blessed James Bell is commemorated on the Martyrs’ Plaque in Lancaster Cathedral; in a stained glass window of St. Mary’s Church, Warrington; in a stained glass window of the closed Our Lady’s Church, Latchford, Warrington; there is a statue of him in the Lady Chapel of St. Werburgh’s Church, Birkenhead and up until its demolition in the early 1990s, St Benedict’s Church, Warrington had a building named the ‘Bell Hall’ near its former school. On 1 May 2018 the parishes of St Mary’s, St Benedict and St. Oswald in Warrington to combined to form a new parish under the patronage of Blessed James Bell.

Information Retrieved from Wikipedia.

Richard Sherlock (Church of England Priest)

Born 11 Nov 1612
Died 20 Jun 1689
Aged 76

Richard Sherlock was a seventeenth-century English priest.

Sherlock was born at Oxton, then a village in the Cheshire peninsula of Wirral, on 11 November 1612, and was baptised at Woodchurch on 15 November. His father, William, a small yeoman, died while Richard was still young, but his mother gave him a learned education. (Note that alternative sources suggest Sherlock’s father may have been John Sherlock; the matter is of some interest in establishing Sherlock’s relationship with Thomas Wilson, Bishop of Sodor and Man).

He was first sent to Magdalen Hall, Oxford, whence he was removed, to save expense, to Trinity College, Dublin There he graduated Oxford Master of Arts (MA Oxon) in 1633. Having entered holy orders, he became minister of several small united parishes in Ireland, where he remained till the breaking out of the rebellion of 1641. Upon James Butler, 1st Marquis of Ormonde’s truce with the rebels (15 September 1643), Sherlock returned to England as chaplain of one of the regiments sent by the marquis to aid King Charles in his struggle with parliament.

He was present at the Battle of Nantwich on 25 January 1644, in which Thomas Fairfax completely defeated John Byron, 1st Baron Byron and captured many prisoners. Among these was Sherlock, who, on regaining his liberty, made his way to Oxford, where he became chaplain to the governor of the garrison, and also a chaplain of New College. In consideration of several sermons that he preached, either at court or before the Oxford parliament, the degree of Bachelor of Divinity (BD) was conferred upon him in 1646.

Expelled from Oxford by the parliamentary visitors about 1648, he became curate of the neighbouring village of Cassington, where he dwelt in the same house as the mother of Anthony à Wood, and made the acquaintance of the future antiquary, then a youth of seventeen.

On being ejected from Cassington in 1652, Sherlock became chaplain to Robert Bindloss, a royalist baronet residing at Borwick Hall, near Lancaster. Here he remained some years, courageously remonstrating with his patron when he gave scandal by his conduct, yet preserving his attachment to the end. While at Borwick, Sherlock entered into controversy with Richard Hubberthorne, a well-known Quaker, publishing in 1654 a book entitled The Quaker’s Wilde Questions objected against the Ministers of the Gospel.

Winwick and the connection with Charles Stanley, 8th Earl of Derby

In or about 1658 Sherlock was introduced by Bindloss to Charles Stanley, 8th Earl of Derby, who appointed him his chaplain at Lathom. At the Restoration he was placed by the earl on a commission for the settlement of all matters ecclesiastical and civil in the Isle of Man. He fulfilled his part of this task ‘to the entire satisfaction of the lord and people of that island’, and returned to Latham.

In 1660 he was nominated to the rich rectory of Winwick in Lancashire, but, through a dispute as to the patronage, he did not get full possession of it till 1662. Here he remained at St Oswald’s Church for the rest of his life,

so constantly resident that, in an incumbency of nearly thirty years, he was scarcely absent from his benefice as many weeks; so constant a preacher that, though he entertained three curates in his own houses, he rarely devolved that duty upon any of them; such a lover of monarchy that he never shaved his beard after the murder of Charles I; so frugal in his personal habits that the stipend of one of his curates would have provided for him; and so charitable that, out of one of the best benefices in England, he scarcely left behind him one year’s income, and that for the most part to pious uses’. He exhibited so much zeal for the church of England that he was ‘accounted by precise persons popishly affected.

His fidelity to the Anglican church is clearly evidenced by his works.

Remaining unmarried, his rectory became a kind of training-school for young clergymen, among whom was his own nephew, Thomas Wilson, afterwards bishop of Sodor and Man. Sherlock, who proceeded Doctor of Divinity (DD) at Dublin in 1660, died at Winwick on 20 June 1689, and was buried in his parish church. In his will he left bequests to the poor of several of the parishes with which he had been connected.

Information retrieved from Wikipedia.

Thomas Risley (Presbyterian Minister) 1630-1716

Born 27 Aug 1630
Died 1716
Aged 86

Reverend Thomas Risley was an English Presbyterian minister, founder of the Thomas Risley Chapel.

Risley was the second son of Thomas Risley and Thomasin Lathon Risley and christened at Newchurch, Kenyon, near Warrington on 2 September 1630. He was educated at Boteler Grammar School, Warrington under Mr Nathan Ashworth and, in 1649, went to Pembroke College, Oxford where his elder brother John had graduated before becoming a fellow of New College, Oxford. Calamy describes his life at the university:

he passed his time as a recluse… he aimed at acquiring useful knowledge and learning rather than fame.

Oxford University Fellowship

After the restoration of Charles II of England in May 1660, Royal visitors were sent to the University to enquire into matters. Thomas Risley evidently satisfied the enquiry and was confirmed in his fellowship and the following instrument drawn up in his favour –

We, having received sufficient testimony of the honest life and conversation of Thomas Risley MA, as also of his diligence in his studies, his progress and sufficiency in learning of England, the government of this University, and the statutes of College wherein he lives, do by these presents, ratify, allow and confirm the said Mr T Risley in his fellowship with all rights, dues and prerequisites thereunto belonging, notwithstanding any nullities, irregularities or imperfections which in strict interpretation of the said statutes may be objected.

Dated 20 June 1661.

Thomas Risley held his fellowship until 24 August 1662 when he was obliged to surrender because he would not comply with the Act of Uniformity 1662. The college however, because of their respect for him, and because they were unwilling to lose so valuable a member, allowed him a year to consider his position. During this time, “he examined the terms of conformity with great diligence and impartiality, that he might be able to satisfy others as well as his own conscience and he was not carried away by the prejudices of education”.

On 10 November 1662 he was ordained deacon and priest by the Bishop of Norwich, Dr Edward Reynolds, who in his certificate gave him a very honourable character.

One of the provisions of the Act of Uniformity 1662 was that no-one could be a Minister in the Church of England unless he had been ordained by a Bishop so, at this stage, he was clearly uncertain about his rejection of the act, although Reynolds, having himself been a Presbyterian, was clearly sympathetic to Risley’s views.

Thomas Risley’s Episcopalian ordination raises the important point of his assent to the Book of Common Prayer. The Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion contained in it were not changed at all when the Prayer Book was revised in 1661. Article Thirty-six assumes episcopal ordination as the normal mode, whether it is in the form contained in the prayer book of Edward VIor the form as in the book as revised in 1661. So far as can be seen, Risley could have had any theological objection to the Prayer Book, as he did in fact accept if from Reynolds. That he approved and valued the thirty-nine articles is certain because a stipulation was inserted in the deed of conveyance of the ground on which the Risley Chapel stood, namely “that the Minister of the Chapel shall subscribe to the Thirty-Nine Articles”.

Life after Oxford

Edmund Calamy wrote of Risley that, despite his long period of deliberation, “he could not, for any place, be satisfied to come up to the conditions prescribed by the Act. He retired, therefore, to his estate in the country, where, during the storm of persecution, he employed himself in preaching privately to such as scrupled conformity, and in visiting the sick, for whose sake he applied himself to the study of physic; by the practice of which he more effectually engaged their attention when he administered to their spiritual advice.”

About four years after he left Oxford for Lancashire, the Vice-Chancellor of the University wrote to him, pressing him to return and offering preferment to encourage his conformity, but his conscience would not let him.

The Royal Declaration of Indulgence of 1672 had allowed Protestant Dissenters the right of public worship, but when it was later withdrawn and the Conventicle Act again imposed, a number of Croft and Risley Nonconformists were brought before the Bishop, and amongst them was Thomas Risley.

Thomas Risley, of Woolston-cum-Poulton, Gent. Fined £5. This gentleman is one that saith they will not desist.

With the passing of the Toleration Act in 1689, his neighbours, who had previously been his clandestine congregation, resolved themselves into a regular society and “committed themselves to his pastoral conduct, and he was very useful among them by his ministerial performances and exemplary life and conversation.”

The Toleration Act also decreed the licensing of meeting houses, an arrangement which was accepted without complaint as it placed the building and congregation under the protection of the State. Property given for religious uses was secured by trust deed, and the “dissenting interest,” as it was then called, had legal recognition. Ministers, duly licensed and sworn, were made exempt from many services to which laymen were subject. A list of licensed “chappells” in South West Lancashire has survived and amongst them is Richard Jackson’s barn in Culcheth, for which Thomas Risley held the licence. Local tradition has it that, prior to the licence, “conventicles” were held in a field near to the site of the later Chapel.

It appears that at the time of the founding of the Risley Presbyterian Church there was a very strong Presbyterian influence in the Warrington area. References in the Quarter Sessions records state for example, that the house of Francis Turner was registered on 23 January 1706/7 as a Presbyterian place of worship, as was that of John Bent on 24 April 1710, both at Warrington.

At some point in his life Thomas Risley married a woman by the name of Catherine.

With a growing congregation, and active participation in ecclesiastical life in Lancashire and northern Cheshire, the more settled state of the country after the turn of the century led Thomas Risley and his congregation to the decision to erect a permanent chapel.

Thomas Risley died in 1716. at the age of 86, and was buried in Risley Chapel graveyard. His tombstone still exists, but the original inscription became obliterated by weathering. A later minister. the Reverend William Dunn, who took a great interest in preserving relics of the early history of the chapel, placed upon the tombstone the following inscription:

Here interred the body of the Rev Thomas Risley MA Oxford. He left the Church of England in 1662, and built Risley Chapel in 1707, where he officiated up to his death. He died in 1716, aged 86 years. “The righteous shall be in everlasting remembrance” Psalm cxii, 6.

Location of Thomas Risley’s grave on Cross Lane South close to the M62 near Birchwood

Thomas Risley’s funeral sermon was preached by his friend Dr Charles Owen of Warrington, from the text 2 Kings 2:12. This was afterwards printed, together with brief “Memoirs of his life.” Thomas Risley did not contribute much to literature; the only work known to exist is “The Cursed Family; a treatise on the evil of neglecting family prayer.” The celebrated John Howe wrote a preface to it. in which he gave some account of the author. Thomas Risley left at least two sons, Thomas and John. John Risley was born 19 January 1690, educated at Glasgow, and succeeded his father in the Ministry at Risley Chapel.

Retrieved from Wikipedia.

Edward Barlow (Church of England Priest and Inventor) 1639-1719

Born 1639
died 1719
Aged 80

Diagram of rack striking mechanism from a striking clock. Labelled parts: (E) gong, (F) hammer, (G) hammer lift pins, (K) fan fly, (L) rack release lever, (M) rack, (N) snail, (P) drive weight cord, (S) rack lift pin.
Source: Lexikon der gesamten Technik (dictionary of technology) from 1904 by Otto Lueger. The image is out of copyright.

Edward Barlow, alias Booth (1639–1719), was an English priest and mechanician.

Barlow was the son of Edward Booth, of Warrington, in Lancashire, where he was baptised 15 December 1639. He took the name of Barlow from his uncle, Father Ambrose Barlow, the Benedictine monk, who suffered martyrdom on account of his priestly character. At the age of twenty he entered the English College at Lisbon (1659), and after being ordained a priest he was sent on the English mission. He first resided with Lord Langdale in Yorkshire, and afterwards removed to Parkhall, in Lancashire, a seat belonging to Mr. Houghton, but his chief employment was attending the poor in the neighbourhood, “to whom he conformed himself both in dress and diet.” He died in 1719 at the age of eighty.

Dodd, the church historian, who was personally acquainted with Barlow, observes that:

he was master of the Latin and Greek languages, and had a competent knowledge of the Hebrew before he went abroad, and ’tis thought the age he lived in could not show a person better qualified by nature for the mathematical sciences; tho’ he read not many books of that kind, the whole system of natural causes seeming to be lodged within him from his first use of reason. He has often told me that at his first perusing of Euclid, that author was as easy to him as a newspaper. His name and fame are perpetuated for being the inventor of the pendulum watches; but according to the usual fate of most projectors, while others were great gainers by his ingenuity, Mr. Barlow had never been considered on that occasion, had not Mr. Tompion (accidentally made acquainted with the inventor’s name) made him a present of 200l. [£200].


During the 20th century there was a common misconception that Barlow invented the rack and snail striking mechanism for striking clocks in about 1675-6. In fact, his invention was connected with a repeating mechanism employing the rack and snail allowing repeater clocks to be built which, at the pull of a string, would strike the number of hours. In this age before widespread artificial illumination, these were used to tell the time after dark.

This invention was afterwards applied to pocket watches. Barlow and London watchmaker Daniel Quare disputed the patent rights to the repeating watch. In 1687, King James II decided the question by having each watchmaker submit a quarter repeater watch for the examination of the king and his council. The king, upon trying each of them, gave preference to Quare’s, of which notice was given soon after in The London Gazette. The difference between these two inventions was that Barlow’s was made to repeat by pushing in two pieces on each side of the watch-box, one of which repeated the hour, the other the quarter-hour. Quare’s was made to repeat by a pin that stuck out near the pendant; which being pressed repeated both the hour and quarter.


He was the author of:

  • Meteorological Essays concerning the Origin of Springs, Generation of Rain, and Production of Wind; with an account of the Tide, London 1715, 8vo.
  • An exact Survey of the Tide; explicating its production and propagation, variety and anomaly, in all parts of the world, especially near the coasts of Great Britain and Ireland; with a preliminary Treatise concerning the Origin of Springs, Generation of Rain, and Production of Wind. With twelve curious maps, London 1717, 8vo; 2nd edition, 1722.
  • A Treatise of the Eucharist, 3 vols. 4to, MS.

Information retrieved from Wikipedia. This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainStephen, Leslie, ed. (1885). “Barlow, Edward (1639-1719)“. Dictionary of National Biography. Vol. 3. London: Smith, Elder & Co.

Thomas Wilson (Church of England Bishop) 1663-1755

Born 20 Dec 1663
Died 7 Mar 1755
Aged 91

Thomas Wilson, Bishop of Sodor and Man, 1698-1755.
This file is made available under the Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication

Thomas Wilson (20 December 1663 – 7 March 1755) was Bishop of Sodor and Man between 1697 and 1755.

He was born in Burton and Ness, in the Wirral, Cheshire, in December 1663. Having studied medicine at Trinity College, Dublin, he was ordained priest in 1689. In 1692 the Lord of Mann, William Stanley the Earl of Derby, appointed him personal chaplain and tutor to the earl’s son. Five years later, at Lord Derby’s urging, Wilson reluctantly accepted promotion to the vacant bishopric of Sodor and Man.

Early life (1663-1697)

Wilson was the sixth of seven children and fifth son of Nathaniel Wilson (died 29 May 1702) and Alice Wilson née Browne (died 16 August 1708). He was born at Burton, Cheshire on 20 December 1663. According to Wilson’s biographer John Keble, both sides of his family had been Burton residents for many centuries.

Much of Wilson’s childhood was spent at the parsonage in Winwick where his paternal half-uncle, chaplain Richard Sherlock lived; Sherlock supervised Wilson’s training. It was through Sherlock that the earliest connection to the Isle of Man can be made, insofar as he was chaplain to the son of the seventh earl of Derby and Lord of Mann, amongst whose ambitions were to restore order to the church in the Isle of Man after a breakdown in the seventeenth century.

Wilson was tutored at The King’s School, Chester and entered Trinity College, Dublin as a sizar on 29 May 1682. His tutor was John Barton, afterwards dean of Ardagh. Jonathan Swift entered in the previous month, and other contemporaries included Peter Browne and Edward Chandler. He was elected scholar on 4 June 1683. In February 1686 he graduated with a B.A.. The influence of Archdeacon Michael Hewetson (died 1709), a prebendary of St Patrick’s Cathedral, turned his thoughts from medicine to the church. He was ordained deacon before attaining the canonical age by William Moreton, bishop of Kildare on 29 June 1686 in the cathedral church of Kildare on the day of its consecration.

He left Ireland on 10 February 1687 to become curate to his uncle Sherlock in the chapelry of Newchurch Kenyon at the parish of Winwick. He was ordained priest by Nicholas Stratford on 20 October 1689 and remained in charge of Newchurch with a salary of £30 until the end of August 1692. He was then appointed domestic chaplain to William Stanley, 9th Earl of Derby. Early in 1693, he was appointed master of the almshouse at Lathom, yielding £20 more. At Easter he made a vow to set apart a fifth of his small income for charity, especially for the poor.

Wilson gave up his parish duties to concentrate on the education of the Earl’s heir apparent, continuing in that role for five years. Keble suggests that the Stanley family approved of Wilson’s acceptance of the Glorious Revolution of 1688. Stowall suggests that Wilson became more highly valued by the 9th Earl after giving him strong counsel against his indebtedness and reminding him of the potential for financial crisis arising out of any change in government.

In June 1693 he was offered by Lord Derby the valuable rectory of Badsworth in the West Riding of Yorkshire, but refused it, having made a resolution against non-residence. He received his M.A. in 1696.

On 27 October 1698 he was married at Winwick to Mary (16 July 1674 – 7 March 1705), daughter of Thomas Patten. The couple had four children, of whom only Thomas survived to adulthood and became prebendary of Westminster and rector of St. Stephen Walbrook.

The later years (1697-1749)

On 6 April he landed at Derbyhaven in the Isle of Man. He was installed on 11 April 1697 in the ruins of St. German’s Cathedral, within Peel Castle at Peel. At once he took up his residence at Bishop’s Court, Kirk Michael, which he found also in a ruinous condition, with only a tower and chapel standing. Wilson set about rebuilding the greater part of it, at a cost of £1,400, of which all but £200 came from his own pocket. He soon became ‘a very energetic planter’ of fruit and forest trees, turning ‘the bare slopes’ into ‘a richly wooded glen’. He was an equally zealous farmer and miller, doing much by his example to develop the resources of the island. For some time he was the only physician in the island. He set up a drug-shop, giving advice and medicine to the poor for free.

The building of new churches (beginning with the Castletown chapel, 1698) was one of his earliest cares and, in 1699, he took up the concept of parochial libraries devised by his friend Thomas Bray and began the establishment of such libraries in his diocese. This led to provision in the Manx language for the needs of his people. The printing of prayers for the poor families is projected in a memorandum of Whit-Sunday 1699, but was not carried out until 30 May 1707, the date of issue of his Principles and Duties of Christianity… in English and Manks, with short and plain directions and prayers, 1707. This was the first book published in Manx, and is often styled the Manx Catechism. It was followed in 1733, by A Further Instruction and A Short and Plain Instruction for the Lord’s SupperThe Gospel of St. Matthew was translated, with the help of his vicars-general in 1722 and published in 1748 under the sponsorship of his successor as bishop, Mark Hildesley . The remaining Gospels and the Acts were also translated into Manx under his supervision, but not published.

A public library was established by Wilson at Castletown in 1706 and, from that year, by help of the trustees of the “academic fund” and by benefactions from Lady Elizabeth. He did much to increase the efficiency of the grammar schools and parish schools in the island. He was created DD at Oxford on 3 April 1707 and incorporated at Cambridge on 11 June. In 1724 he founded, and in 1732 endowed, a school at Burton, his birthplace.

Later years and death (1749–55)

From his eighty-sixth year, Wilson was burdened with gout. He died at Bishop’s Court on 7 March 1755, the fiftieth anniversary of his wife’s death. His coffin was made from an elm tree planted by himself, and made into planks for that purpose some years before his death. He had a strong objection, mentioned in his will, to interments within churches, and was buried (11 March) at the east end of Kirk Michael churchyard, where a square marble monument marks his grave. Reverend Philip Moore preached the funeral sermon.

information retrieved from Wikipedia, where you can read a more detailed account of his life.

John Taylor (Dissenting Preacher) 1694-1764

Born 1694
Died 5 Mar 1761
Aged 67

John Taylor (1694-1761)
Author: John Theodore (formerly Dietrich) Heins. Source National Portrait Gallery and now in the public domain.

John Taylor (1694–1761) was and English dissenting preacher, Hebrew Hebrew scholar, and theologian.

Early life

The son of a timber merchant at Lancaster, he was born at Scotforth, Lancashire. His father, John was an Anglican, his mother, Susannah a dissenter. Taylor began his education for the dissenting ministry in 1709 under Thomas Dixon at Whitehaven, where he drew up for himself a Hebrew grammar (1712). From Whitehaven he went to study under the tutor Thomas Hill, son of the ejected minister Thomas Hill, near Derby. Leaving Hill on 25 March 1715, he took charge on 7 April of an extra-parochial chapel at Kirkstead, Lincolnshire, then used for nonconformist worship by the Disney family. He was ordained (11 April 1716) by dissenting ministers in Derbyshire. In 1726 he declined a call to Pudsey, Yorkshire.

In Norwich

In 1733 he moved to Norwich, as colleague to Peter Finch, son of Henry Finch.

So far Taylor had not deviated from dissenting orthodoxy, though hesitating about subscription. According to a family tradition, given by William Turner, on settling at Norwich he went through Samuel Clarke’s Scripture Doctrine of the Trinity (1712) with his congregation, adopted its view, and came forward (1737) in defence of a dissenting layman excommunicated for heterodoxy on this topic by James Sloss (1698–1772) of Nottingham, a pupil of John Simson. On 25 February 1754 Taylor laid the first stone of the Octagon Chapel, Norwich, opened 12 May 1756, and described by John Wesley (23 December 1757) as ‘perhaps the most elegant one in all Europe,’ and too fine for ‘the old coarse gospel.’ In his opening sermon, Taylor, who had received (6 April) the diploma (dated 20 January) of D.D. from the University of Glasgow, disowned all names such as Presbyterian and the like, claiming that of Christian only; a claim attacked by a local critic, probably Grantham Killingworth, writing as a Quaker, under the name of ‘M. Adamson.’

Warrington Academy tutor

Around the end of 1757 Taylor returned to Lancashire as divinity tutor (including moral philosophy) in Warrington Academy, opened 20 October 1757. The appointment was a tribute to his reputation, but at the age of sixty-three the change turned out unhappily for him. He had troubles in class teaching, on doctrinal matters with John Seddon, and was convinced that he was denied due deference. Rheumatism settled in his knees, and he could not walk without crutches. Rousing his powers, he wrote, but did not live to publish, a fervent tract on prayer.


Taylor died in his sleep on 5 March 1761, and was buried in the chapel-yard at Chowbent, Lancashire. His funeral sermon was preached by Edward Harwood. A tablet to his memory is in Chowbent Chapel; another in the Octagon Chapel, Norwich, bearing a Latin inscription by Samuel Parr.

Information retrieved from Wikipedia.

John Seddon (Unitarian Minister) 1725-1770

Born 8 Dec 1725
Died 23 Jan 1770
Aged 44

Cairo Street Chapel

John Seddon was an English Dissenter and rector of Warrington Academy.

The son of Peter Seddon, dissenting minister successively at Ormskirk and Hereford, he was born at Hereford on 8 December 1725. The Unitarian John Seddon (1719–1769), with whom he has often been confused, is said to have been a second cousin. He was entered at Kendal Academy in 1742, under Caleb Rotheram, and went on to Glasgow University, where he enrolled in 1744, and was a favourite pupil of Francis Hutcheson and William Leechman. On completing his studies he succeeded Charles Owen, D.D., as minister of Cairo Street Chapel, Warrington, where he was ordained on 8 December 1747. Soon after his settlement the Percival family left the established church and attached themselves to Seddon, thought to be a liberal divine of Arian views. Seddon gave private tuition to Thomas Percival.

After the closure of the private academies at Kendal (1753) and Findern, Derbyshire (1754), a project was launched in July 1754 for establishing in the north of England a dissenting academy by subscription. Seddon was one of the most active promoters of the scheme; it was due to him that the final choice fell upon Warrington rather than upon Ormskirk. On 30 June 1757 he was elected secretary, and when the academy opened at Warrington on 20 October he was appointed librarian. As secretary he did not get on well with John Taylor, who had been appointed to the divinity chair; the trustees, however, sided with Seddon against Taylor. Discipline was always a difficulty at Warrington; with a view to better control, in 1767 the office of ‘rector academiæ’ was created, and bestowed upon Seddon. At the same time he succeeded Joseph Priestley in the chair of belles lettres; his manuscript lectures on the philosophy of language and on oratory, in four quarto volumes, were preserved in the library of Manchester College, Oxford.

Taylor’s difference with Seddon originated in a controversy respecting forms of prayer. On 3 July 1750 a meeting of dissenting ministers took place at Warrington to consider the introduction of ‘public forms’ into dissenting worship. A subsequent meeting at Preston on 10 September 1751 declared in favour of ‘a proper variety of public devotional offices.’ Next year the ‘provincial assembly’ appointed a committee on the subject; a long controversy followed. On 16 October 1760 a number of persons in Liverpool, headed by Thomas Bentley, agreed to build a chapel for nonconformist liturgical worship, and invited several dissenting ministers to prepare a prayer-book. Taylor declined, and wrote strongly against the scheme. Seddon warmly took it up. On 6 January 1762 he submitted ‘the new liturgy’ to a company of dissenters at the Merchants’ coffee-house, Liverpool.

This compilation, published 1763, as A Form of Prayer and a New Collection of Psalms, for the use of a congregation of Protestant Dissenters in Liverpool, is often described as Seddon’s work; he edited it, but had two coadjutors; of its three services, the third was by Philip Holland; the remaining contributor was Richard Godwin (1722–1787), minister at Gateacre, near Liverpool. The book was used in the Octagon Chapel, Liverpool, from its opening on 5 June 1763 till 25 February 1776, after which the building was sold, and converted into St. Catherine’s Church. Seddon declined to become the minister of the Octagon Chapel, and in his own ministry practised extemporary prayer.

He married, in 1757, a daughter of one Hoskins, equerry to Frederick, prince of Wales, but had no issue. His wife’s fortune was invested in calico-printing works at Stockport, and lost. She survived him. A selection from his letters and papers was edited by Robert Brook Aspland, in the Christian Reformer (1854 pp. 224 sq., 358 sq., 613 sq., 1855 pp. 365 sq.).

Seddon was a main founder (1758) of the Warrington public library, and its first president. He was the first secretary (1764) of the Lancashire and Cheshire Widows’ Fund. He died suddenly at Warrington on 23 January 1770, and was buried in Cairo Street Chapel.

Retrieved from Wikipedia.

John Macgowan (Baptist Preacher) 1726-1780

Born 26 Oct 1726
Died 25 Nov 1780
Aged 56

Portrait of John Macgowan (1726–1780), Scottish Baptist minister.
and now in the public domain.

John Macgowan was a Scottish Baptist minister and author.

Macgowan was born in Edinburgh, received an education, and was apprenticed to a weaver. He subsequently settled in Bridge Street, Warrington, as a baker. He had become a Wesleyan; he now joined the Methodist movement as a preacher. At a later period he was attracted by the Independents, but finally joined the Particular Baptists. He ministered at the old baptist chapel at Hill Cliff, near Warrington, and then at Bridgnorth.

In September 1766 Macgowan became pastor of the old Baptist meeting-house in Devonshire Square, Bishopsgate, London, opened by William Kiffin in 1687. Here he remained until his death. His preaching, despite its Calvinistic tone, became popular. Macgowan’s congregation were typically artisans. On its behalf he signed the petition of the Protestant Association of London, in the prelude to the Gordon Riots.

In failing health, Macgowan administered the sacrament for the last time on 12 November 1780, and died 25 November. He was buried in Bunhill Fields. He left a widow and children.


Macgowan was a caustic controversial writer, who used allegory in devotional works. His books went through many editions in London, the North of England, and America. Several were published under pseudonyms such as “The Shaver” and “Pasquin Shaveblock”. His major work, Infernal Conferences, or Dialogues of Devils, by the Listener, London, 1772, 2 vols. may have been suggested by The Dialogues of the Dead (London, 1760) of George Lyttelton, 1st Baron Lyttelton.

Information retrieved from Wikipedia, where you can read about his other works.

Edward Evanson (Church of England Clergyman) 1731-1805

Born 21 Apr 1731
died 25 Sep 1805
Aged 74

Edward Evanson was a controversial English clergyman.

He was born in Warrington, Lancashire. After graduating at Emmanuel College, Cambridge and taking holy orders, he spent several years as curate at Mitcham in Surrey. In 1768 he became vicar of South Mimms near Barnet; and in November 1769 he was presented to the rectory of Tewkesbury, with which he held also the vicarage of Longdon in Worcestershire. In the course of his studies he discovered what he thought important variance between the teaching of the Church of England and that of the Bible, and he did not conceal his convictions. In reading the service he altered or omitted phrases which seemed to him untrue, and in reading the Scriptures pointed out errors in the translation.

A crisis was brought on by his sermon on the resurrection, preached at Easter 1773; and in November 1773 a prosecution was instituted against him in the consistory court of Gloucester. He was charged with depraving the public worship of God contained in the liturgy of the Church of England, asserting the same to be superstitious and unchristian, preaching, writing and conversing against the creeds and the divinity of our Saviour, and assuming to himself the power of making arbitrary alterations in his performance of the public worship. A protest was at once signed and published by a large number of his parishioners against, the prosecution. The case was dismissed on technical grounds, but appeals were made to the court of arches and the court of delegates. Meanwhile, Evanson had made his views generally known by several publications.

In his later years he ministered to a Unitarian congregation at Lympston, Devonshire. In 1802 he published Reflections upon the State of Religion in Christendom, in which he attempted to explain and illustrate the mysterious foreshadowing of the Apocalypse. This he considered the most important of his writings. Shortly before his death at Colford, near Crediton, Devon, he completed his Second Thoughts on the Trinity, in reply to a work of the bishop of Gloucester.


In 1772 he anonymously published his Doctrines of a Trinity and in the Incarnation of God, discussed Principles of Reason and Common Sense. This was followed in 1777 by a work addressed to Richard Hurd, A Letter to Dr. Hurd, Bishop of Worcester, wherein the Importance of the Prophecies of the old Testament and the Nature of the Grand Apostasy predicted in them are discussed. He also wrote some papers on the Sabbath, which brought him into controversy with Joseph Priestley, who published the whole discussion (1792). In the same year appeared Evanson’s work entitled The Dissonance of the four generally received Evangelists, to which replies were published by Priestley and David Simpson (1793). Evanson rejected most of the books of the New Testament as forgeries, and of the four gospels he accepted only the Gospel of Luke.

His sermons (prefaced by a Life by G. Rogers) were published in two volumes in 1807, and were the occasion of Thomas Falconer’s Bampton Lectures in 1810. A narrative of the circumstances which led to the prosecution of Evanson was published by N. Havard, the town-clerk of Tewkesbury, in 1778.

Information Retrieved from Wikipedia.

William Enfield (Unitarian Minister) 1741-1797

Born 29 Mar 1741
Died 3 Nov 1797
Aged 56

Title page to William Enfield’s Speaker (1794). Source: Eighteenth Century Collections Online

William Enfield was a British Unitarian minister who published a bestselling book on elocution entitled The Speaker (1774).

Enfield was born in Sudbury, Suffolk to William and Ann Enfield. In 1758, he entered Daventry Academy at the behest of his teacher and minister, William Hextal. In 1763 he became the minister at Benn’s Garden Chapel in Liverpool, a wealthy and well-connected congregation. In 1767 Enfield married Mary Holland, the daughter of a local draper, and together they had five children.

In 1770 he moved to Warrington to be the minister of the Cairo Street Chapel and a tutor of rhetoric and modern languages at Warrington Academy. He remained there until 1785, when he was called to be the minister of the Octagon Chapel, Norwich.

In Norwich Enfield’s congregation assembled prominent families: the Martineaus, two unrelated Taylor families (those descending from John Taylor his predecessor at the Octagon, and that of William Taylor), and several others. His reputation was for bringing those of different views into polite discussion,, and he founded the Speculative Society, including Anglican and nonconformist clergy, and physicians.

Enfield died on 3 November 1797.


Despite being a Unitarian, Enfield still respected the Established Church and supported the government intertwined with it. When fellow Unitarian Joseph Priestley attacked these institutions, Enfield published Remarks on Several Late Publications in a Letter to Dr. Priestley (1770). Enfield believed that Dissenters would eventually win recognition from the government and decried Priestley’s abrasive strategy. Priestley replied in a dismissive pamphlet, but the two still remained friends. Eventually, after the failure of the Feathers Tavern Petition, Enfield changed his position, agreeing with Priestley that Dissenting civil rights were too slow in coming.

Throughout his career, Enfield focused more on ethics than on theology in his many published sermons and essays. He was also a contributor to the Monthly Magazine and at his death had just started a biographical dictionary project with John Aikin, a friend from Warrington. Like Aikin and Priestley, Enfield wanted to remain current in many disciplines. Believing that natural philosophy was essential to his students, he studied mathematics one summer and subsequently published a textbook dedicated to Priestley: Institutes of Natural Philosophy, Theoretical and Experimental (1783).

His most successful work, however, was The Speaker (1774), an anthology of literary extracts intended to teach elocution, and produced first for his Warrington pupils. He published a sequel, Exercises in Elocution in 1780. Enfield’s Speaker remained in print until the middle of the nineteenth century and inspired other anthologies, such as Mary Wollstonecraft’s The Female Speaker.

Enfield industriously translated Brucker’s multi-volume Critical History of Philosophy.

Information retrieved from Wikipedia.

Thomas Biggin Broadbent (Unitarian Preacher) 1793-1817

Born 17 Mar 1793
Died 9 Nov 1817
Aged 24

Thomas Biggin Broadbent was an English preacher.

Broadbent was the only child of William Broadbent and was born in Warrington. He entered Glasgow College in November 1809. After graduating in April 1813, he became classical tutor in the Unitarian academy at Hackney, an office he filled till 1816, preaching latterly at Prince’s Street Chapel, Westminster, during a vacancy. His pulpit powers were remarkable. Resigning his London work, he returned to Warrington to pursue his ministerial training as his father’s assistant. He died of apoplexy on 9 November 1817.


He prepared for the press, in 1816, portions (1 and 2 Cor., 1 Tim., and Titus) of Thomas Belsham’s Epistles of Paul the Apostle, published in four volumes in 1822. He also edited the fourth edition (1817) of the “Improved Version” of the New Testament, originally published in 1808 under Belsham’s superintendence. Two of his sermons, published posthumously in 1817, reached a second edition.

Information from Wikipedia.

William Quekett (Church of England Preacher) 1802-1888

Born 3 Oct 1802
30 Mar 1888
Aged 85

The Parish Church of St
Elphin, where Quekett was
rector of Warrington

William Quekett, rector of Warrington, Lancashire, was the eldest brother of microscopists Edwin John and John Thomas Quekett, born at Langport in 1802. William Quekett married Harriet Foulger and had two children. 

William entered St. John’s College, Cambridge, in 1822, and, on his graduation, in 1825 was ordained as curate of South Cadbury, Somerset. In 1830 he became curate at St. George’s-in-the-East, where he remained until 1841. To his efforts was due the establishment of the district church of Christ Church, Watney Street, of which he acted as incumbent from 1841 to 1854. His philanthropic energy here attracted the attention of Charles Dickens, who based upon it his articles on “What a London Curate can do if he tries” (Household Words, 16 November 1850) and “Emigration” (ib. 24 January 1852).

In 1849 Quekett, with the co-operation of Sidney Herbert, founded the Female Emigration Society, in the work of which he took an active part. In 1854 he was presented by the crown to the rectory of Warrington, where he restored the parish church, and died on 30 March 1888, soon after the publication of a gossiping autobiography, My Sayings and Doings.

Information retrieved from Wikipedia.

Whilst at Warrington, Quekett was the man who decided to add the spire to the Parish Church of St Elphin. The 281 feet high spire was,at the time, the third highest in the country.

See the Warrington Guardian report for more information.

Philip Pearsall Carpenter (Presbyterian Minister) 1819-1877

Born 4 Nov 1819
Died 24 May 1877
Aged 67

Philip Pearsall Carpenter.
Image is in the public domain.

Philip Pearsall Carpenter (4 November 1819 – 24 May 1877) was ordained Presbyterian minister in England in 1841, and earned a Doctorate of Philosophy in 1860. His field work as a malacologist or conchologist in North America is still well regarded today. A man of many talents, he wrote, published, taught, and was a volunteer explaining the growing study of shells in North America.

Philip P. Carpenter was born in Bristol, England on 4 November 1819. His father was Lant Carpenter. His mother was Anna or Hannah Penn, daughter of John Penn and Mary. Anna was christened on 11 May 1787 in Bromsgrove, Worcester.

P. P. Carpenter, as he was called, was educated at Trinity Bristol College, and then Manchester College at York, gaining a BA from the University of London in 1841, the year of his ordination as a minister.

Carpenter was a Presbyterian minister at Cairo Street Chapel in Warrington between 1846 and 1862 and he studied the collection of shells in the local museum between 1860 and 1865, before moving to Canada.

He married Minnie Meyer in 1860. Minnie was born about 1830 in Hamburg, Germany. Her parents are unknown. In 1881 she was still living in their house in the Saint Antoine Ward of Montreal.

Carpenter died 24 May 1877 in Ste-Antoine Ward, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, of typhoid complicated by rheumatism.

A memorial drinking fountain to Carpenter is situated in Bank gardens by the town hall in Warrington.

Notable siblings

Mary Carpenter was born on 3 April 1807 in Kidderminster, Worcester, England. She died on 14 June 1877 and was buried in Arnos Vale, Bristol, England. Mary was founder of the Ragged school movement. Mentioned in brother William’s insert in the Dictionary of Scientific Biography by Charles Coulton Gillispie. She was a social reformer.

William Benjamin Carpenter was born on 29 October 1813 in Exeter, Devon, England. He died on 19 November 1885 in London and was buried in Highgate Cemetery, London.

Information retrieved from Wikipedia.

William John Beamont (Church of England Clergyman and Author) 1828-1868

Born 1828
Died 6 Aug 1868
Aged 40

William John Beamont was an English clergyman and author.

Beamont was born in Warrington, being the only son of William Beamont, solicitor and author of Annals of the Lords of Warrington, and other works.

After attending the Warrington grammar school for five years he was, in 1842, removed to Eton College, where he remained till 1846, bearing off Prince Albert’s prize for modern languages, and the Newcastle medal and other prizes. He entered Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1846, took high honours, gained the chancellor’s medal, and was awarded a fellowship in 1852. He graduated B.A. in 1850, and M.A. in 1853.

After his election as fellow of Trinity he commenced a tour in Egypt and Palestine, and on being ordained in 1854 he spent some time at Jerusalem, where he engaged earnestly in the education of intending missionaries to Abyssinia, in Sunday school work, and in preaching not only to the English residents but to the Arabs in their own tongue. He afterwards acted as chaplain in the camp hospitals of the British army before Sevastopol during the Crimean War.

In 1855 Beamont returned home, and became curate of St. John’s, Broad Street, Drury Lane, London, in which parish he worked with great zeal until 1858, when he accepted the vicarage of St. Michael’s, Cambridge. He died at Cambridge, 6 Aug. 1868, at the age of forty, his death being hastened by a fever caught in the East. He was buried in Trinity College Chapel.

Beamont’s life was one of unremitting self-denying usefulness, and in addition to his successful parochial labours and his pioneer efforts for church extension in Barnwell and Chesterton, he was the main instrument of founding the Cambridge School of Art (1858) and the Church Defence Association (1859). He was also the originator of the Church Congress (1861), in the foundation of which he was aided ‘by his friend, Mr. R. Reynolds Rowe, F.S.A.


  • Catherine, the Egyptian Slave, 1852.
  • Concise Grammar of the Arabic Language, 1861.
  • Cairo to Sinai and Sinai to Cairo, in November and December 1860, 1861.

In conjunction with Canon W. M. Campion he wrote a learned yet popular exposition of the Book of Common Prayer, entitled The Prayer-Book Interleaved, 1868. Among his pamphlets are the Catechumen’s ManualPaper on Clergy Discipline, and Fine Art as a Branch of Academic Study

Information Retrieved from Wikipedia.

Brigham Henry Roberts (Mormon Preacher) 1857-1933

Born 13 Mar 1857
Died 27 Sep 1933
Aged 66

A Photo of Brigham Henry Roberts from 1903. Author: Andrew Jenson (1850-1941) from Jenson, Andrew (1901) Latter-day Saint biographical encyclopedia

Brigham Henry Roberts was a historian, politician, and leader in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church).

Roberts was born in Warrington, Lancashire, the son of Benjamin Roberts, an alcoholic blacksmith and ship plater, and Ann Everington, a seamstress. In the year of his birth both parents converted to the LDS Church. Benjamin Roberts then abandoned his family. Roberts later wrote, “My childhood was a nightmare; my boyhood a tragedy.”

He edited the seven-volume History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and independently wrote the six-volume Comprehensive History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Roberts also wrote Studies of the Book of Mormon—published posthumously—which discussed the validity of the Book of Mormon as an ancient record. Roberts was denied a seat as a member of United States Congress because of his practice of polygamy.

Assisted by the Perpetual Emigrating Fund, B. H. Roberts and a sister left England in April 1866. In Nebraska they joined a wagon train and proceeded to walk—for much of the way barefoot—to Salt Lake City, where they were met by their mother, who had preceded them. In 1867, Roberts was baptized into the LDS Church by Seth Dustin, who two years later became his stepfather. Dustin eventually deserted his family, and “after several reappearances, he finally disappeared completely.” Ann Dustin was granted a divorce in 1884. Upon coming to Utah Territory, Roberts settled in Bountiful, which he always from then on considered his home.

Roberts became a miner and participated in the gambling and drinking typical of that time and place. (He was once disciplined by a Salt Lake bishop, who warned him that alcohol “would not only beat him to his knees but to his elbows and chin.”) But Roberts eventually learned to read and, after a series of menial jobs, was apprenticed to a blacksmith while attending school. He then became a “voracious reader, devouring books of history, science, philosophy,” especially the Book of Mormon and other Mormon religious texts.

In 1878, Roberts married Sarah Louisa Smith, and in the same year he graduated first in his class from University of Deseret, the normal school precursor of the University of Utah. He and Sarah eventually had seven children.

Religious Service

After graduation (and the birth of his first child) Roberts was ordained a seventy (a priesthood office) in his local church branch and taught school to support his family. The LDS Church sent him on a mission to Iowa and Nebraska, “but because the cold weather was hard on his health, he was transferred to Tennessee in December of 1880.” There he rose to prominence as the president of the Tennessee Conference of the Southern States Mission.

Political and Military Career

Roberts became a fervent Democrat and was elected Davis County Delegate to the Utah State Constitutional Convention in 1894. Roberts proved a vocal member of the Convention, particularly in his opposition to women’s suffrage.

In 1895, Roberts was the losing Democratic candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives, and Roberts believed LDS Church leaders, who were predominantly Republicans, “had unfairly influenced the election by publicly reprimanding him and fellow Democrat Moses Thatcher for running for office without express permission of the Church.”

The LDS Church then issued the “Political Manifesto of 1895,” which forbade church officers from running for public office without the approval of the Church. Both Roberts and Thatcher refused to agree to the Political Manifesto and were suspended from their ecclesiastical offices. Roberts, believing such a requirement was a basic infringement of his civil rights, capitulated just hours before the deadline of March 24, 1896. He signed the manifesto, wrote a letter of apology to the First Presidency, and was reinstated. Thatcher was more stubborn: he refused to sign, was expelled from the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and barely evaded excommunication.

In 1898, Roberts was elected as a Democrat to the 56th Congress, but the House of Representatives refused to seat him because of his practice of polygamy. The prolonged battle that ensued to keep his seat, which was not successful, left Roberts bitter.

The governor of Utah had appointed Roberts a chaplain in the Utah National Guard; in 1917, when the United States declared war on Germany, Roberts volunteered to serve as a U.S. Army chaplain. The age limit of forty was waived—Roberts was then sixty—and Roberts became chaplain to the 145th Field Artillery, which arrived in France in September 1918 but did not see action before the Armistice was signed in November.

Roberts died on September 27, 1933, from complications of diabetes. He was survived by thirteen children and by his second wife.

Information retrieved from Wikipedia.

George Vale Owen (Church of England Vicar) 1869-1931

Born 26 June 1869
Died 9 Mar 1931
Aged 61

George Vale Owen was a clergyman of the Church of England and one of the best-known spiritualists of the early twentieth century.

Vale Owen was born in Birmingham, England, the eldest son of George Owen, a chemist and druggist, and his wife Emma. He was educated at the Midland Institute and Queen’s College, Birmingham (a predecessor college of Birmingham University).


In 1893 he was ordained by the Bishop of Liverpool as curate in the parish of Seaforth, in Liverpool. He became curate successively at Fairfield in 1895 and St Matthew’s, Scotland Road, in 1897, both also in Liverpool. In 1900 he became vicar of Orford, Warrington, where he created a new church, which was built in 1908, and worked there until 1922.


The death of his mother in 1909 awoke his alleged psychic abilities and he claimed to began receiving psychic communication in 1913. He received ‘messages’ via a process known as automatic writing, which adherents believe is writing performed without conscious thought or deliberation, typically by means of spontaneous free association or as a medium for alleged spirits or psychic forces.

Given the impact on him of the information he received in this way, he converted to Spiritualism. This was to incur the disapproval of his bishop, Francis Chavasse.

The ‘messages’ he received were developed into books. During the 1920s he authored a number of books about his new faith, his most notable being the five-volume set, Life Beyond the Veil. The works were prefaced by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (creator of Sherlock Holmes), who was a great supporter of Owen.

Lord Northcliffe, the foremost newspaper proprietor of the day, published summaries of the works of Owen in his journal, The Weekly Dispatch. He said that he was impressed by the great sincerity and unshakeable conviction of Owen and that he clearly possessed great spiritual gifts. Through the publication of his work in the Dispatch, Owen became famous throughout the United Kingdom.

Owen’s spiritualist work resulted in the Church authorities forcing him out of his parish. This had a severe impact on him, including the loss of his primary source of income. In 1922, aged 53, he began actively promoting Spiritualism. He first went on a lecture tour in the United States. In England, after his return, he gave more than 150 lectures. He eventually became pastor of a Spiritualist congregation in London.

However, his financial resources became severely depleted. To help him, Conan Doyle organised a collection for him. This resulted in a trust fund that provided financial support for Owen for the rest of his life.

Personal life and death

Owen married Rose Pemberton on 21 November 1892 at St James church in Handsworth; they had four children. In 1931 he fell seriously ill, exacerbated by the strain of his work as a medium. He died on 9 March of that year, aged 61.

Information retrieved from Wikipedia.

Richard Blackburn (Church of England Bishop) 1952-

Born 22 Jan 1952

Richard Finn Blackburn (born 22 January 1952) is a British retired Anglican bishop. From 2009 until 2018, he served as the Bishop of Warrington — the sole suffragan bishop in the Church of England Diocese of Liverpool; he was also temporarily the acting Bishop of Sodor and Man (the Church of England on the Isle of Man), 2016–2017.

Early life and education

Born in Denmark, Blackburn grew up in Yorkshire. He was educated at Aysgarth School, and later Eastbourne College before going to Durham University to study theology. He was President of the Durham Union Society, graduating from St John’s College, Durham with a Bachelor of Arts degree; He also studied at Hull University, receiving a Master of Arts degree, followed by ordination training at Westcott House, Cambridge.

Ordained ministry

Blackburn was ordained (in the Church of England): made a deacon at Petertide 1983 (26 June), by Graham Leonard, Bishop of London, at St Paul’s Cathedral, and ordained a priest the Petertide following (1 July 1984), by Jim Thompson, Bishop of Stepney, at his title church. He served his curacy at St Dunstan’s, Stepney from 1983 to 1987, and then served for five and a half years as priest in charge of St John’s Isleworth until 1992. He was then Vicar of St Mark’s Mosborough from 1992, during which time he was also Area Dean of Attercliffe starting in 1996 and an honorary canon of Sheffield Cathedral from 1998. In 1999 he became Archdeacon of Sheffield and Rotherham until 2009 and a canon residentiary of Sheffield Cathedral until 2005; during this time, his partner was ordained there and served as the cathedral curate.

Episcopal ministry

On 27 August 2009, it was announced that Blackburn had been appointed to the episcopacy as Bishop of Warrington, the suffragan bishop of the Diocese of Liverpool, succeeding David Jennings. He was ordained and consecrated a bishop at York Minster on 3 November 2009. He was installed during a service at Liverpool Cathedral on 7 November 2009.

Blackburn retired from full-time ministry in 2018: a farewell Eucharist was held for him at Liverpool Cathedral on 21 April 2018.

Information retrieved from Wikipedia.