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Title: A new appearance on the face of things : retelling the Primitive Methodist creation narrative
Author: Woolley, Timothy Robert
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2013
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This research looks at the emergence of the Primitive Methodist Connexion in the period 1800-1812, from a revival at Harriseahead, Staffordshire. It examines the ‘creation narrative’ the Connexion told about its beginnings, posing two questions: How influential was the first chronicler and founder of the community, Hugh Bourne, on subsequent accounts? Can a fuller story be told which places Primitive Methodist origins and Bourne’s early influences in a wider context? Use is made of contemporaneous material published by Bourne and William Clowes, the Connexion’s other recognised founder, their surviving MSS, extant records of the Burslem Wesleyan Circuit and Chester District, New Connexion, Wesleyan and Independent Methodist connexional records, as well as parish registers and later published accounts. An outline of Primitive Methodist historiography is given in the introductory chapter. Primitive Methodist origins are then re-examined in four phases. In the years 1797-1800, a context is set of division in Burslem Wesleyanism brought about by the emergence of the Methodist New Connexion. The formative years of Lorenzo Dow, John Riles and William Edward Miller are surveyed, and the influences they brought to bear on later events identified. In 1800-1804, when the revival gathered pace, the role of Daniel Shubotham, Bourne’s cousin, is re-assessed. Changes in the Burslem Wesleyan Circuit in 1805-1807 included the arrival of Miller and Riles, and the visit of American maverick evangelist Dow, and the impact on the revival of the resultant changing dynamics are explored. The aftermath of the revivalists holding a camp meeting on 31 May 1807 was a Wesleyan ban and a circuit dispute, causing rifts between Bourne, Shubotham and Clowes. This delicate subject for Primitive Methodist historiography is re-examined, as is the likely role of Superintendent John Riles, and the question of whether in 1808-1812 a linking of the camp meeting Methodists with the New Connexion was ever likely. In conclusion, three key influences upon Hugh Bourne in the emergence of Primitive Methodism are identified. Firstly the Methodist New Connexion gave a context for Bourne’s early ministry in a weakened circuit, and for the emergence later of a separate revivalist community. Secondly, Shubotham’s spirituality was influential for Bourne despite the fissure between them. Lastly, the ‘self-superintending’ ministry of Dow inspired Bourne to continue to hold camp meetings and divided him from Shubotham and Clowes. These second two factors are to be found in Bourne’s writings, but the dominance of his first full-length published account led to the forging of the Primitive Methodist creation narrative at an early stage. Attention to all three factors enables a contextually richer story to emerge.
Supervisor: Meadows, Philip Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Primitive Methodism