Hugh Stowell Brown
|Hugh Stowell Brown|
10 August 1823|
|Died||24 February 1886
Hugh Stowell Brown (10 August 1823 – 24 February 1886) Christian minister and renowned preacher.
Hugh Stowell Brown was a preacher, pastor and social reformer in Liverpool in the nineteenth century. His public lectures and work among the poor brought him great renown. On his death a statue was raised to him, one of only three Liverpool clergymen to receive that honour. His brother was the Manx poet Thomas Edward Brown.
He was born at Douglas, Isle of Man, on 10 August 1823, was second son of Robert Brown, and his wife Dorothy (Thomson). Thomas Edward Brown was his younger brother. The father, Robert Brown (died 1846), was at one time master of the grammar school in Douglas, and in 1817 became chaplain of St. Matthew's chapel in that town. An evangelical of extreme views, he never read the Athanasian Creed, and took no notice of Ash Wednesday or Lent. In 1832, he became curate of Kirk Braddan, succeeding as vicar on 2 April 1836. He learned Manx in order to preach in it, and supported a family of nine on less than £200 a year. His boys spent the summers in collecting his tithes of hay and corn, intermittently walking five miles to Douglas grammar school, but Hugh's early education consisted chiefly in reading four or five hours daily to his father, who became almost blind. Robert Brown was found dead by the roadside on 28 November 1846, and buried next day at Kirk Braddan. He wrote twenty-two Sermons on various Subjects, Wellington (Shropshire) and London, 1818, 8vo; and a volume of Poems, principally Sacred, London, 1826, 12mo.
Hugh was apprenticed when fifteen to a land surveyor, and employed in tithe commutation and ordnance surveys in Cheshire, Shrewsbury, and York. In 1840, he entered the London and Birmingham Railway's works at Wolverton, Buckinghamshire. While earning from four to eight shillings a week he began to study Greek, chalking his first exercises on a fire-box. After three years, part of the time spent in driving a locomotive between Crewe and Wolverton, he returned home and entered King William's College at Castletown to study for the church. When his training was almost complete he felt unable to subscribe to the ordination service, and resolved to return to his trade; but in the meantime was baptised at Stony Stratford, lost his father, and received unexpectedly an invitation to preach at Myrtle Street Baptist Chapel, Liverpool. About November 1847, he was accepted by that congregation as their minister. He was then twenty-four. There he remained until his death, winning great popularity as a preacher. To his Sunday afternoon lecture, established in 1854 in the Concert Hall, Liverpool, he drew from two to three thousand working men, whom his own early experiences, added to great power and plainness of speech, with abundant humour, powerfully influenced. He anticipated the post office by opening a workman's savings bank, to which over £80,000 was entrusted before it was wound up. In 1873, he visited Canada and the States.
Brown was president in 1878 of the Baptist Union. His addresses (printed in London, 1878) were an appeal for a better educated nonconformist ministry. He thought at one time of retiring from Liverpool to open a hall at Oxford or Cambridge, to be affiliated to one of the colleges. He was in favour of abandoning denominational colleges, the students to take their arts degrees at existing universities. He was an active member of the Baptist Missionary Society, and for many years president of the Liverpool Peace Society and chairman of the Seaman's Friend Association.
He died after a few days' illness from apoplexy on 24 February 1886 at 29 Falkner Square, Liverpool, and was buried on 28 February at the West Derby Road cemetery.
Brown married, first, in 1848, Alice Chibnall Sirett, who was the mother of all his children, and died in 1863 ; secondly, he married Phoebe, sister to Mr. W. S. Caine, M.P., who was also his son-in-law. She died on 25 March 1884.
Soon after his death a statue of Hugh Stowell Brown was paid for by public subscription. The Statue was unveiled on Tuesday 15 October 1889 in the churchyard at the front of Myrtle Street Baptist Church opposite the Philharmonic Hall. In 1939, Myrtle Street church was closed and subsequently demolished, and the site is now a car park. The statue was moved to Princes Road/Avenue, Liverpool on Saturday 25 September 1954. The statue was then removed around the time that the William Huskisson was toppled from its pedestal in 1988. The now empty pedestal still stands close to Princes Park gates. The statue which is in poor condition is currently lying forlornly in the stable yard at Croxteth Hall in Liverpool. Permission and funding have now been granted by Liverpool City Council for the statue to moved to a safe and protected location.
This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Smith, Charlotte Fell (1901). "Brown, Hugh Stowell". In Sidney Lee. Dictionary of National Biography, 1901 supplement. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
- A Memorial Volume. Routledge and Sons. 1888.
- "Rev. Hugh Stowell Brown, Campaign", Liverpool Monuments