The Hugh Bourne Papers

Scope and Content

The collection consists of two boxes of manuscript material. The first comprises two envelopes of correspondence, three 'Autobiographies' and Bourne's bound copy of Henry Ainsworth's Annotations Upon the Third Book of Moses Called Leviticus. The second box contains nineteen journals. All but one folder of correspondence came from the Hartley Victoria Collection.

Administrative / Biographical History

Hugh Bourne was born near Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, on April 3, 1772. The family moved to Bemersley in 1788, and it was there that Bourne became a member of the Wesleyan Methodist Connexion.

Inspired by the preaching of the American evangelist Lorenzo Dow, he was prominent in organising the first camp meeting held on Mow Cop on May 31 1807. Following crititicism of his role in the camp meeting movement, he was expelled from the Wesleyan Connexion in 1808.

The followers of Hugh Bourne joined in 1811, with those of another Staffordshire preacher William Clowes to form the Primitive Methodist Connexion. Bourne played the leading role in establishing Primitive Methodism as one of the countries leading free churches, and by the time of his superannuation in 1842, it possessed a membership of almost 80,000.

After his withdrawal from the active ministry Bourne went on a two year long mission to North America, and continued to be involved in Connexional affairs until a short time before his death in 1852.


The collection has been catalogued in three series. The loose letters have been catalogued as DDHB 1, the manuscripts formerly in the Hartley Victoria Collection as DDHB 2, and the journals of Hugh Bourne formerly in the Hartley Victoria Collection as DDHB 3 :

  • DDHB1 - Letters of Hugh Bourne
  • DDHB2 - Letters of Hugh Bourne
  • DDHB3 - Journals of Hugh Bourne

Access Information

The collection is open to any accredited reader.

Acquisition Information

With the exception of one folder of correspondence (DD HB 1) the collection was acquired from The Library of Hartley Victoria College.

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

After Hugh Bourne's death his personal papers passed into the hands of his nephew John Walford, who used them in the writing of the 'Memoirs', published in 1856-7.

The Primitive Methodist Conference purchased the collection in 1858, and destroyed those papers which were deemed to be sensitive.

The surviving documents including the Autobiography, eventually passed into the Library of Hartley Victoria College, and after the partial closure of the College in the 1970s, to the John Rylands University Library of Manchester.

Related Material

The William Clowes papers: GB 135 DDCL