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A History of Horncastle by James Conway Walter

Worsnop retired to Newcastle on Tyne

Horncastle was at first included in the Lincoln Circuit, but in 1837, at the building of the second chapel it was constituted a separate circuit, and when the third chapel was erected, in 1853, Coningsby was made a branch of Horncastle.

The first preacher who visited Horncastle was a female, Jane Brown by name, who is said to have walked from Lincoln to Horncastle on a Sunday morning, giving an address in the Market Place in the afternoon, and in the evening holding a service in a house, now forming part of the back premises of the Red Lion Hotel. The first local preachers were also females, Mary Allen and Mary Clarke. The first two female members were Mary Elwin and Martha Belton.

Mr. Butcher having been the first resident minister, was succeeded by the Rev. C. Smith, who worked here and in various other places during 50 years, and then retired to York as supernumerary. The Rev. William Rose, who had been Second Minister in 1850, was appointed Superintendent in 1875, and remained two years. A few years later the Rev. J. Pickwell (1888-90) was Superintendent, with Rev. W. Whitaker as Second Minister; the former first joined the society as a scholar in 1849, being numbered among the local members, he afterwards removed to Lincoln, and acted as Itinerant Minister for 33 years before returning to Horncastle in 1888. Mr. Pickwell was succeeded by Rev. William Kitson as Superintendent, with Rev. R. H. Auty as Second Minister. Mr. Kitson retained his post during four years, when he left for Market Rasen. Mr. Auty was followed, as Second Minister, by Rev. John Bowness, and he, in turn, by Rev. Thomas Stones.

In 1894 the Rev. John Featherstone succeeded to the ministry, with Rev. W. J. Leadbetter as Second Minister, both these stayed to their second year, Mr. Featherstone dying in 1896. In that year the Rev. John Worsnop was appointed, with Rev. A. W. Bagnall as Second Minister; the former retained his post during five years; Mr. Bagnall two years, being succeeded in 1898 by Rev. Walter Tunley, and he, in 1899, by the Rev. George H. Howgate, who stayed two years. In 1900 Rev. J. Worsnop retired to Newcastle-on-Tyne, and died there in Dec., 1904.

In 1901 the Rev. Matthew H. Chapman became Superintendent Minister, with Rev. J. A. Kershaw as Second, both remaining during two years. In 1903 the Rev. Robert B. Hauley succeeded, with Rev. J. Cousin as assistant, both remaining two years. In 1905 (July) the former left for Kirkby Stephen, Westmoreland, the latter for a circuit in Shropshire. They were followed by the Rev. E. Allport, from Skegness, as Superintendent, Sept. 1905; and Rev. E. J. Hancox from Doncaster. In June of that year the annual Conference was held at Scarborough.

We will now put together a few details of the origin of this society. Hugh Bourne was born at Stoke-upon-Trent, April 3, 1772. {73} Although his family was said to be ancient, his ancestors having come to England at the Norman Conquest, he belonged to a humble rank in life, living at Ford Hays Farm. He was in early life educated by his mother, a godly woman, and while very young he learnt by heart the Te Deum, the Litany, and much of the prayers of the Church of England. He worked for his father, and an uncle who was a millwright, but found time to study hydrostatics, pneumatics, natural philosophy, as well as Hebrew, Greek and Latin. His mother's influence had given him a serious bent of mind, and he early acquired strong religious convictions. His biographer says of him "He tells, in child-like simplicity, how, when only four or five years old, he pondered over thoughts of heaven and hell, the last judgment, and other solemn subjects. During the next 20 years his inner life was one of hopes and fears, doubt and faith, conflict and victory."

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