The William Clowes Papers

Scope and Content

The collection consists of one box containing seven handwritten notebooks (the first 9.5x15.5cm, the remainder 12x18cm) ).

Very few manuscripts of William Clowes have survived.

The collection comprises seven notebooks of Clowes covering topics such as his relationship with Hugh Bourne, Primitive Methodism in Hull, and his early life within the Methodist Church.

The notebooks represent much the most important source of information concerning Clowes's life.

Administrative / Biographical History

William Clowes (1780-1852), evangelist and co-founder of the Primitive Methodists was born at Burslem, Staffordshire, on 12 March 1780, and trained as a potter.

He was converted under the influence of the local Wesleyan Methodist Society and began preaching locally. He was expelled from the Connexion in 1810 as a result of his involvement in the camp meeting movement.

His followers, who were known as Clowesites, subsequently merged with the group led by Hugh Bourne to form the Primitive Methodist Connexion.

Clowes was an outstanding evangelist and played a major role in the expansion of the Primitive Methodist Connexion, leading important missions to several parts of the country. This missionary fervour complemented by the organisational skills of Hugh Bourne, represented the main strength of the Connexion during its formative years.

On 10 June 1842 he was placed on the superannuation fund, but still continued to work until a day or two before his death from paralysis at Hull on 2 March 1852.


The collection has been catalogued in one series:

  • DDCL1 - The Notebooks of William Clowes 1836-38

Access Information

The collection is open to any accredited reader.

Acquisition Information

Hartley Victoria College Library.

Other Finding Aids

A catalogue of the Collection was produced by Gareth Lloyd in 1993. The present catalogue has been produced to replace this with an ISAD(G) compliant catalogue.

Alternative Form Available

The items listed below have been published as a part of the microfiche collection: Clive Field (ed.), The people called Methodists: a documentary history of the Methodist church in Great Britain and Ireland on microfiche (Leiden, Netherlands: IDC Publishers, 1998). The description here is that contained in the published Guide to the microform collection, which contains the John Rylands University Library reference, followed by the microfiche reference in square brackets.

  • Clowes, William. Notebooks, 1836-38. DDCL1/1/1-7. [[MP-685 mf. 1-4]

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies and photographic copies of material in the archive can be supplied for private study purposes only, depending on the condition of the documents.

A number of items within the archive remain within copyright under the terms of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988; it is the responsibility of users to obtain the copyright holder's permission for reproduction of copyright material for purposes other than research or private study.

Prior written permission must be obtained from the Library for publication or reproduction of any material within the archive. Please contact the Keeper of Manuscripts and Archives, John Rylands University Library, 150 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 3EH.

Custodial History

The notebooks were formerly in the possession of Hartley Victoria College, Manchester.

Related Material

The Hugh Bourne Papers: GB 135 DDHB