[April 30, 2001]
Bourne, Hugh; 1772-1852
1 Reel of Microfilm
The original of this microfilm is owned by the library at Hartley Victoria Methodist College. Those wishing to quote from, reproduce, or publish material from the film should write to:
Hartley Victoria Methodist College
Hugh Bourne was born April 3, 1772, in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, England, the son of Joseph and Ellen Bourne. As a youth, he was apprenticed to his uncle as a wheelwright, and eventually pursued this trade being principally concerned with windmill and watermill wheels. From his childhood he sought an inner conviction of salvation and he spent, as he put it, "twenty sorrowful years" in this pursuit. In 1799, at the age of twenty-seven, he achieved this goal. From that point on, he began to seek a way to be a preacher of the gospel, although by necessity he continued in his trade.
Bourne joined the Methodist movement, but his support of the "camp meeting" type of open-air evangelism did not endear him to many fellow Methodists. Bourne learned much about the camp meeting when the American evangelist Lorenzo Dow (1777-1834) visited England, and on May 31, 1807, he put his knowledge into practice by organizing the first English camp meeting at Mow Cop, on the border of Cheshire and Staffordshire. The Methodist authorities condemned the proceedings as "highly improper in England," and excluded Bourne from the circuit in 1808. Bourne and his followers organized under the name Camp Meeting Methodists.
In 1810, William Clowes (1780-1851) was also excluded from the Methodist circuit for much the same reasons as Bourne's exclusion. On February 12, 1812, the Camp Meeting Methodists and the Clowesites coalesced into one body, taking the name Primitive Methodists. Emphasis on the camp meeting as a channel of evangelism was unquestioned.
For the next forty years, Bourne traveled widely, founding Primitive Methodist societies, which by the time of his death numbered one hundred ten thousand persons with five hundred and more circuit-riding pastors. In 1829, a mission field was opened in America, with stations in New York, Philadelphia, and Upper Canada. In 1840, the United States churches became independent of the English conference. Bourne, at the age of seventy-two, in 1844 undertook a journey to Upper Canada to oversee the mission there. After being there for a year, he accepted an invitation to visit the United States societies of the "Primitive Methodist connexion," as he called it, en route back to England. He sailed from New York for Liverpool in the spring of 1846.
Hugh Bourne died at Bemersley, Staffordshire, England, on October 11, 1852.
Scope and Content
From 1803 to 1852, Hugh Bourne kept a journal. Twenty-two volumes of this exist, lacking the years 1821-1842. This collection is a microfilm copy of two of these volumes, covering February 8, 1844, to April 14, 1848. A detailed description of the volumes, with explanation about pagination, can be found in the introductory material at the head of the microfilm. The journal is preoccupied with religious matters, specifically the salvation of souls and the furtherance of the Primitive Methodist cause. Constant themes in the journal are: nearly daily preaching, teetotalism, Sunday schools, and Methodist politics. He refers to salvation often as "liberty." One special interest of Bourne's was what might be called Children's Sermons.
The two volumes of Bourne's journal contained in this collection cover the two years he spent in missionary work in Canada and the United States. Below are noted some of the more significant passages, selected because the commentary is particularly good, or because the event itself is noteworthy.
|1844||Apr||3||His birthday; he discusses his age and spiritual life|
|Jun||9||Description of a camp meeting|
|12||Troubled mind about decision to go to America|
|18||Description of a barn fitted up as a chapel, where he spoke|
|Jul||2||Preparing to sail; list of wardrobe; description of embarking|
|Jul-Aug||Description of journey; seasickness; things seen; religious services on board|
|Aug||26||Recap of journey; sailors' ideas about church and Sabbath observance|
|Sep||7||Montreal; foodstuffs; prices; economy|
|14||Sunset on St. Lawrence River (excellent description)|
|15||Church services on board ship|
|16||Passenger drowns in Rideau Canal; journey to Toronto|
|Oct||2||First log house he has ever seen|
|13||Dealing with a reprobate man|
|21||List of his appointments through January 1845|
|1845||Jan||1||He walks nineteen miles; receives invitation from Primitive Methodist Society of New York to visit|
|10||Difficulty in winter travel|
|Feb||12||District reports 1832-1844 for England's seven Primitive Methodist districts (membership statistics); recipe for homemade yeast|
|[End of volume one; beginning of volume two. There is a bit of an overlap, with volume two beginning at February 1, 1845.]|
|Feb||5||Winter weather in Canada|
|Mar||25||Boiling down maple sugar|
|May||9||A successful Sunday school|
|15||Rumors of war between U.S. and England|
|23||Primitive Methodist ministers' pension fund|
|29||Description of Niagara Falls and museum|
|Jul||20||Camp meeting at Buffalo, new York|
|Aug||4||Minutes of Niagara Falls and Buffalo mission station meeting|
|14||Costs of trip from Toronto to New York City|
|Sep||15||Testimony of a man in New York; Bourne's thoughts that Satan is behind some of william Clowes's publications|
|Mid-September and after: descriptions of New York City|
|Oct||19||Vandalism done on a chapel in Brooklyn|
|Nov||1||Trouble is over in Brooklyn|
|13||Visit with the Pennington family: mother and son churchgoers, father a drunkard; his words to Mr. Pennington about having "a little hell" in him|
|23||Dedication of a new church at Paterson, New Jersey; distinction between a "church" and a "chapel"; good descriptions of church services and the building|
|1845||Nov||26||Passaic Falls and its value to Paterson|
|Dec||15||Reservoir at New York City|
|16||Journey, New York to Philadelphia; church meeting at Philadelphia|
|17||Description of Philadelphia|
|26||Post-communion "lovefeast" described|
|31||Watchnight services in church|
|[Printed leaflet stitched into journal at this point: "American Man-Stealing and the Alliance." Concerns the Presbyterian Church and slavery.]|
|1846||Jan||8||A backslider "gloriously set at Liberty"|
|9||Philadelphia water works: steam engine vs. water wheel; involvement of whiskey in steamworks system|
|19||Pottsville (New Jersey) circuit|
|20||Slave trade a blot on religion, especially the "Episcopal Methodists"|
|25||Description of Norristown, Pennsylvania|
|26||Winter: England vs. America|
|28||Excellent description of a Protestant Methodist Church service; mention of "penitent bench"|
|30||Suspension bridge over Schuylkill River; waterworks for Philadelphia|
|31||Various Methodist groups in the United States|
|Feb||3||He charts out the Great Lakes from the Lake of the Woods to the Atlantic; "ungodly" men create a disturbance at church|
|11||Fellow member is excluded from the circuit|
|13||He makes arrangements to sail for England|
|18||Discovery of deception in a fellow worker, William Lawson|
|Mar||1||Communion; grape juice and NOT wine is noted|
|4||He sails for Liverpool|
|12||Winter storm at sea; water in ship|
|[Two items stitched into volume at this point: (1) A letter dated October 19, 1847 concerning an attack on Bourne's leadership in the Primitive Methodist church, and (2) a pamphlet, primarily statistical in nature, entitled "A Nine Years' Progress Report of the Primitive Methodist Connexion, from the Conference Held in the Year 1824 to the of 1833, Intended as a Continuation of the History of the Primitive Methodists."]|
|1846||Mar||20||Poor spiritual condition of crew and passengers on board; his health improved when he left America|
|26||Arrival in Liverpool|
|Apr||4||Description of the herb cure his mother used on him as a boy for an eye disease; cure still in use in 1846|
|May||24||Camp meeting at Oldbury|
|25||Meeting continues; woman preacher|
|22||A textbook description of Niagara Falls|
|Sep||3||Wool combers out of work|
|9||He fears Primitive Methodist Connexion is declining|
|14-15||Proselytizing of a sick girl; her death predicted by another|
|16||Teetotalism service preached at Rochdale|
|Dec||27||Christmas sermon at Mow Cop|
|1847||Apr||14||He tries that old herb remedy for the eye problem|
|Jun||15||Description of an excellent sermon he heard|
|Jul||4||Services at Doncaster: sermons, prayer meeting, mourner's bench, woman preacher|
|25||Camp meeting at Masbro (Masborough?)|
|31||Gets a new tarp on his umbrella|
|Aug||1||Sheffield camp meeting (at Cricket Grounds)|
|1847||Aug||9||An attack is made on Bourne's character and leadership abilities (see letter stitched in journal after March 12, 1946)|
|17||He has a dream with a message from God|
|[The rest of the journal is rather mundane; it ends April 14, 1848.]|
After the day-by-day entries are over one hundred pages on which many essays, letters, and extracts are written. Not every item is noted here, but the more important pieces follow in this order:
1. Sketch of some of Hugh Bourne's early religious work, ca. 1799-1800
2. Primitive Methodist statistical accounts
3. Excerpt from 1826 annual meeting minutes, including a denunciation of "reciting sermons"
4. Invoice of Sunday school books, purchased 1825
5. More statistics
6. Text of "Temperance Sermon or Lecture"
7. "Niagara Falls"--a technical description
8. Extract from a book, A Testimony of God Against Slavery, 1839
9. Copies of several letters
10. "Secret of Oliver Cromwell's Success"
11. Essay "On the Meekness of Wisdom"
12. Essay "On Commerce Connected with Religion"
13. Pamphlet "An Account of the works of God at Harriseahead, near Mow, in Staffordshire..." by Hugh Bourne, 1842
14. Pamphlet "Letters to Mr. Aaron Leese, of Tunstall, on his History [of Wesleyan Methodism]..." by Hugh Bourne, 1842
15. "On Relieving the Eyes," concerning the herb eye cure. Apparently a manuscript draft for an intended pamphlet
16. List of the foodstuffs, clothing, and other things Bourne took from New York to Liverpool in 1846
17. More copies of letters
18. Essay "The Temperance Movement"
19. Miscellaneous letters, essays, and accounts
20. Deed Poll of the Primitive Methodist Connexion, 1830
21. Cure for Burns/Cure for Sore Throat. Recipes for home cures.
22. Essay "The Camp Meeting, or Open-Air Preacher"
23. Miscellaneous letters and essays
The materials for this collection were purchased by the Center.
No Accession #
September 22, 1982
Galen R. Wilson
No Accession #
Type of Material:Microfilm
The following items are located in the CENTER LIBRARY MICROFILM ROOM:
Reel 1 - Journal, essays, and letters of Hugh Bourne; 1844-1848. Positive copy, 35mm.