John Angell James

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John Angell James
John Angell James.jpg
in 1840 in the crowd at the conference. To the left is John Howard Hinton and central is James
Born 1785
Blandford Forum
Died 1859
Occupation Minister
Known for Writing

John Angell James (6 June 1785 - 1 October 1859), was an English Nonconformist clergyman and writer.


He was born at Blandford Forum. After seven years' apprenticeship to a linen-draper in Poole, Dorset, he decided to become a preacher, and in 1802 he went to David Bogue's training institution at Gosport in Hampshire. A year and a half later, on a visit to Birmingham, his preaching was so highly esteemed by the congregation of Carrs Lane Independent chapel that they invited him to exercise his ministry amongst them; he settled there in 1805, and was ordained in May 1806. For several years his success as a preacher was comparatively small; but he became suddenly popular in about 1814, and began to attract large crowds. At the same time his religious writings, the best known of which are The Anxious Inquirer and An Earnest Ministry, acquired a wide circulation.[1] He was a contemporary of William Wilberforce and Charles Simeon.

James was a typical Congregational preacher of the early 19th century, massive and elaborate rather than original. His preaching was very popular and well received by serious Christians of his day in the Georgian era. His doctrine was a moderate form of Calvinism. He softened the earlier strict Calvinistic doctrine of Edward Williams, one of his predecessors. He wrote numerous books on practical subjects of the Christian life including: The Anxious Inquirer, The True Believer, Christian Growth, an Earnest Ministry, A Help to Domestic Happiness, Female Piety, The Christian Father's Present to His Children, The Young Man's Friend and Guide, and The Widow Directed to the Widow's God. Many of these are still available in print and widely used among Conservative and Reformed Christians. He was one of the founders of the Evangelical Alliance and of the Congregational Union of England and Wales. Municipal interests appealed strongly to him, and he was also for many years chairman of Spring Hill College, Birmingham. He was also an ardent slavery abolitionist, and is portrayed in the huge canvass depicting Clarkson's opening address at the world's first Anti-Slavery Convention in 1840, in the National Portrait Gallery, London.[2] He died in Birmingham.[1]

A collected edition of James's works appeared in 17 volumes between 1860-1864.


  • "The Sunday School Teachers' Guide", 1816
  • "Christian Fellowship, or the Church Members' Guide", 1822
  • "The Christian Father's Present to his Children", 1824
  • "Christian Charity Explained", 1828
  • "The Family Monitor, or a Help to Domestic Happiness", 1828
  • "The Anxious Inquirer after Salvation Directed and Encouraged", 1834 (Reprinted by Quinta Press, 2003)
  • "The Christian Professor", 1837
  • "The Young Man from Home", 1838
  • "Pastoral Addresses, first series", 1840
  • "Pastoral Addresses, second series", 1841
  • "The Widow Directed to the Widow's God", 1841
  • "Pastoral Addresses, third series", 1842
  • "An Earnest Ministry the Want of the Times", 1847 (reprinted by Banner of Truth Trust, 1993)
  • "The Church in Earnest", 1848
  • "The Young Man's Friend and Guide through Life to Immortality", 1851
  • "Female Piety, or the Young Woman's Guide through Life to Immortality", 1852
  • "The Course of Faith, or the Practical Believer Delineated", 1852
  • "Christian Progress", 1853
  • "Christian Hope", 1858
  • "The Works of John Angell James" (17 volumes), Hamilton Adams, 1860-64


James married first, on 7 July 1806, Frances Charlotte Smith (d. 27 Jan. 1819), a physician's daughter of independent fortune, who had formerly been a member of the established church, and had a son, Thomas Smith James, and two daughters, one of whom died in infancy; secondly, on 19 February 1822, Anna Maria (d. 3 June 1841), the widow of Benjamin Neale, whom she had married in 1812.[3]

Thomas Smith James (1809–1874) was a solicitor in Birmingham. He edited his father's works, and defended his view of justification in additions to the autobiography. He published The History of the Litigation and Legislation respecting Presbyterian Chapels and Charities in England and Ireland &c., 1867. Part of this work was earlier issued as Lists and Classifications of Presbyterian and Independent Ministers, 1717–31, &c., 1866, an ‘Addendum’ [1868] dealt with the criticisms of John Gordon. The work was inaccurate; it did contain "Dr. Evans's List" (1715–1729). He was twice married and left issue, and died on 3 February 1874.[3]


  1. ^ a b Public Domain This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. 
  2. ^ The Anti-Slavery Society Convention, 1840, Benjamin Robert Haydon, accessed April 2009
  3. ^ a b  "James, John Angell". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900. 

External links[edit]


 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain"James, John Angell". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.