John Trevor Working Papers

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

Correspondence, 1925-1968, with the Trevor and other related families, other historians, and topographical files relating to Trevor's places of residence; miscellaneous files, including genealogies and notes taken by Brassington, 1960-1969; publications, 1892-1933; photographs, n.d.

Administrative / Biographical History

Born in Liverpool in 1855, after the death of his parents John Trevor was raised by his maternal grandmother, a strict Johnsonian Baptist. This upbringing marked him for life, and possibly as a reaction against it, Trevor embraced Unitarianism, before founding the Labour Church. Its first service was held in Manchester in 1891, with Trevor attacking the lack of support given to the working classes by the traditional churches. Support for this movement grew rapidly through the industrial North, and in 1892 Trevor founded the monthly Labour Prophet. Annual conferences followed in 1893. Due to ill-health, Trevor resigned from the editorship in 1896, but continued his involvement by becoming chairman of the Labour Church Union. At its height, the Union numbered 25 churches, nearly all in Yorkshire and Lancashire. The central idea behind the Labour Church movement was to add a spiritual dimension to the idea of the emancipation of labour, but Trevor's views on this subject brought him into conflict with other church members, and with the Independent Labour Party, which he believed failed to recognise this aspect. However, Trevor continued his formal association with the Labour Church into the next century, whilst also maintaining links with the Unitarian Church. However, his last decade was one of increasing loneliness and frustration with the established churches. He finally died in 1930, and was buried in Highgate cemetery.

The Rev. G.W. Brassington, from Dalton-in-Furness, Cumbria, was working on a life of Trevor during the 1960s and 1970s, up until his death c.1976.

Reference: Richard Storey in Joyce M. Bellamy and John Saville (eds.), Dictionary of Labour Biography, Vol. 6(London, 1982)

Conditions Governing Access

Access : Open, but see above.

Archivist's Note

The collection largely consists of research notes Brassington was using in writing his life of John Trevor. These are somewhat disorganised, and were often made on the backs of letters, church circulars, bank statements and the like. The Centre also holds records relating to the Labour Church, founded by Trevor (MSS.143BC) Authority files exist for Rev. Brassington (GB 152 AAR0755), Rev. Trevor (GBR 0152 AAR0756) and the Labour Church (GBR 0152 AAR0757)

Conditions Governing Use

Any published work based on the collection is to acknowledge Brassington's original researches.

Custodial History

The original collection was deposited with the Centre in December 1976 by Mrs. R. Brassington, via Cumbria Record Office.