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A History of Horncastle by James Conway Walter

Clowes and Shubotham hesitated


The movement had now taken definite form and substance. Another camp meeting followed at the same place on July 19, lasting three days; a third on August 16th, at Brown Edge; a fourth on August 23rd, at Norton-in-the-Moors. At this time was held the Annual Wesleyan Conference, at which handbills were issued denouncing this separate movement. For a brief moment Bourne, Clowes and Shubotham hesitated; but the question was seriously considered at a meeting at the house of a friend, Joseph Pointon, when it was "revealed" to Bourne that the camp meetings "should not die, but live;" and from that moment he "believed himself to be called of God" for the new work; and shortly his brother James, James Nixon, Thomas Cotton, and others, gave themselves to the cause.

For some years the labours of these men and their associates were chiefly devoted to the pottery and colliery districts of Staffordshire, where a remarkable change was brought about in the moral condition of the hitherto almost brutalized people. The area of work was then gradually enlarged, extending throughout the whole country, and even, as we shall presently see, beyond it. The following are a few personal details of Hugh Bourne's subsequent career.

In 1808, on his way to Bemersley from Delamere Forest, an impression forced itself upon him that he would shortly be expelled from the Wesleyan connexion; on reaching home he found that a rumour to this effect was being circulated, and in June of that year the formal sentence of expulsion was carried out. He continued to devote himself to the work of evangelization, urging however all others to join whatever denomination they were themselves most inclined for.

He preached his first sermon at Tunstall, on Nov. 12, 1810, in a kitchen which had been licensed for preaching three years before. It was not plastered or ceiled, so that if not required at any future time, it might be converted into a cottage, which took place in 1821, when a chapel was erected. At the Conference held at Newcastle-on-Tyne, in 1842, he was most regretfully placed on the retired list, on account of his impaired health, a yearly pension of 25 pounds being assigned to him. He was still, however, to be at liberty to visit different parts of the connection; and during the next ten years of his superannuation he kept up a very wide correspondence on religious matters, and made a missionary visit to America. The last conference which he attended was at Yarmouth, in 1851. For several years he had felt a premonition that the year 1852 would be his last. The last sermon which he preached was at Norton Green, on Feb. 22, 1852; and on Oct. 11, in that year, he surrendered his happy spirit into the hands of God, who gave it, when "the weary wheels of life stood still." His chief residence would appear to have been at Bemersley, where it was long felt that they had lost in him "a man of great faith and mighty prayer."

We now pass over a period of several years. Clowes received a call to Hull. He had crowded the work of a life-time into some 17 years, and his health was now far from good. At a meeting in December, 1827, he exhibited such weakness as showed that he had done his best work. However, he continued to reside in Hull and visited other places from there, as his strength allowed. It is certain that he visited Horncastle, for an old lady, Mrs. Baildham, who died in May, 1900, having been a member of the connection more than 70 years, frequently asserted that she had heard both Clowes and his wife preach in, presumably, the second chapel in Mill Lane.


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