Papers of Brooke Herford

Scope and Content

A collection of sermons, notebooks and illustrations.

Administrative / Biographical History

Brooke Herford was born in Altrincham, Cheshire on 21 February 1830, the son of John Herford, a wine and spirit merchant and his wife Sarah (née Smith) of Birmingham. Herford was educated in the school set up by John Relly Beard and was influenced greatly by other Unitarian figures such as Travers Madge and Philip Pearsall Carpenter in his youth. It was a cause of consternation to his Father when in 1847, Herford chose to join the ministry instead of succeeding his father in business, as was expected. In addition to his education under Relly Beard, Herford spent time in Paris and became fluent in French. In 1848 he entered the Manchester New College and in 1851 became a minister for the first time, settling at Todmorden, and shortly afterwards on 22 June 1852 married Hannah Hankinson of Cheshire. The marriage produced 3 sons and 6 daughters.

After four years at Todmorden, he resigned in January 1856 to become the minister at Upper Chapel in Sheffield, eventually succeeding his old mentor Relly Beard as the minister at New Bridge Street Chapel in Strangeways, Manchester where he remained until 1875, by which time the excessive workload and changes implemented during his tenure had severely affected his health. Soon after leaving this post, Herford travelled to America and became a minister in Chicago, moving to Arlington Street Church in Boston in 1882. During his lifetime Herford was a member of many organisations; among other things he was chairman of the American Unitarian Conference (1889-91), a preacher to Harvard University in 1891, and the co-founder of the Unitarian Herald in 1865. In 1892 Herford moved back to England and settled as a minister at Hampstead, succeeding Thomas Sadler at Rosslyn Hill Chapel. Despite his failing health Herford continued his efforts to contribute to the Unitarian church, presiding over the British and Foreign Unitarian Association from 1898-9 and doubling its income.

Brooke Herford died at his home in Hampstead on 20th December 1903. His publications include The Small End of Great Problems (London: Longmans, Green and Co.,1902), What Is Left After The Questionings Of Our Time? (n.d) and Eutychus and his Relations (Boston: American Unitarian Association, 1906).


The collection has been organised into the following series:

  • Sermons
  • Notebooks
  • Printed Illustrations
  • Newspaper Cutting


R. K. Webb, 'Herford, Brooke (1830-1903)',Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004) .