Billy Graham Center

Papers of Hugh Bourne - Collection 68

[Note: The BGC Archives does not have the original documents of this collection. What it does have is a microfilm edition of the papers, which it purchased from a publisher, as did many other archives and libraries.]

[Note: What follows is a description of the documents in this collection which are available for use at BGC Archives in Wheaton, Illinois, USA. The actual documents are not, in most cases, available online, only this description of them. Nor are they available for sale or rent.]

Since we are migrating our website to a new platform, we will no longer be updating this earlier version our site. Please visit our Archon database for online guide descriptions. In early 2018, look for our new site, currently under construction, linked in the BGC Archives section on the Library and Archives page. (12/11/2017)

Table of Contents

Brief Description of This Collection

Title Page and Restrictions


An Essay on the Contents of the Collection (Scope and Content)

List of Microfilm in This Collection (Location Records)

Brief Description.
Microfilm of a journal kept by Bourne, British evangelist and revivalist, about his mission trip to Upper Canada on behalf of the Primitive Methodist Church. In 1845, he began a tour of the northeastern U.S.A. circuits, and then sailed from New York for England in March, 1846. Includes material on camp meetings, temperance, and Methodists.

Collection 68
[April 30, 2001]
Bourne, Hugh; 1772-1852
Papers; 1844-1848

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:

    The Principal
    Hartley Victoria Methodist College
    Manchester, ENGLAND


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
Nov 6 Threshing machine
13 Dealing with a reprobate man
21 List of his appointments through January 1845
Dec 26 Sleighing
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
19 Niagara Falls
23 Primitive Methodist ministers' pension fund
29 Description of Niagara Falls and museum
Jun 30 A funeral
Jul 20 Camp meeting at Buffalo, new York
23 Cradling wheat
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 2 A robbery
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
24 Ireland sighted
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
Jun 7 Camp meeting
22 A textbook description of Niagara Falls
Jul 5 Blind preacher
Aug 2 Camp meeting
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
May 9 Camp meeting
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
Aug 24 York museum
Oct 6 Tooth extracted
[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.

Send us a message

Return to BGC Archives Home Page
Last Revised: 4/30/01
Expiration: indefinite