Papers of Charles Hargrove

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 133 UCC/2/12
  • Former Reference
      GB 133 C1/39
  • Dates of Creation
  • Physical Description
      13 items

Scope and Content

Two bundles of handwritten sermons produced by Charles Hargrove.

Administrative / Biographical History

Charles Hargrove was born on 4 July 1840 at Clapton in North London. His father Charles Hargrove was an Anglican rector at Kilmena in Ireland who converted to the Plymouth Brethren and seceded from Anglicanism before Charles' birth. Maternal illness meant that the younger Charles spent his early childhood with a nursemaid in Hereford in what he referred to as 'a school for poor children, or orphans', while his family travelled around; he was reunited with them in 1847 when they settled in St Johns Wood. From the age of 11, he attended a private school in Wimbledon as a boarder, moving to King's College, London in 1857, and Emmanuel College, Cambridge in 1859. He was raised in the Brethren tradition, but at Cambridge converted to Roman Catholicism, eventually joining the Dominican Order and spending the next few years preparing for the priesthood. He was made a sub deacon in April 1868, a deacon in February 1869, and a priest at Avignon in France in April 1869. As a missionary preacher, he was sent to the West Indies in 1869 where he was appointed chaplain of a hospital in Barbados, remaining there until 1876. Whilst attending the sick in Barbados he began to question Catholic teaching concerning the fate of the souls of non-Catholics and eventually resigned from the Order. After much anguish, he found his way to Unitarianism, becoming a Unitarian minister at Mill Hill Chapel, Leeds in 1876, where he continued until his retirement in 1912.

As an active Unitarian, he rose to prominence in the national movement becoming President of the British and Foreign Unitarian Association in 1910 and President of the National Conference in 1915. He was a member of the committee of Manchester New College, Oxford where he was later a 'visitor'. He published a variety of pamphlets and sermons on Unitarian themes and was a keen local historian actively involved in the Thoresby Society between 1889 and 1918, where he was Vice President during 1902- 1912 and President 1912 to 1915. In addition, he was a member of the Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society for over 30 years and was its President for two years from 1894. In recognition of his achievements, Leeds University awarded him an honorary doctorate in 1915. He was also actively involved with the local branch of the Charity Organisation Society. He died on 19 June 1918.


L.P.Jacks,From Authority to Freedom: The Spiritual Pilgrimage of Charles Hargrove (London: Williams and Norgate, 1920).

Mill Hill Record. In Memoriam. Rev. Charles Hargrove M.A., D.Lit. (28 July 1918).