John Scott Lidgett

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John Scott Lidgett

Scott Lidgett.jpg
Lidgett in 1907
President of the Methodist Conference
In office
Preceded byJohn Smith Simon
Succeeded byWilliam Perkins
In office
Preceded byDr Henry Maldwyn Hughes
Succeeded byFrederick Luke Wiseman
Personal details
Born10 August 1854
Died16 June 1953 (1953-06-17) (aged 98)
OccupationMethodist theologian

John Scott Lidgett, CH (Lewisham, 10 August 1854 – Epsom, 16 June 1953) was a British Wesleyan Methodist minister and educationist. He achieved prominence both as a theologian and reformer within British Methodism, stressing the importance of the church's engagement with the whole of society and human culture, and as an effective advocate for education within London.[1] He served as the first President of the Methodist Conference in 1932–33.


Lidgett was educated at University College, London, entering in 1873, taking his BA in 1874 and his MA in 1875; he was awarded a DD by the University of Aberdeen on the strength of a book published in 1902, The fatherhood of God. In later life he was closely involved with the University of London, serving on its Senate from 1922 until he retired in 1946 at the age of 92. He served as deputy vice-chancellor and as Vice-Chancellor from 1930 to 1932. He was active in supporting the development of women's colleges and, through his support for the university's relations with teacher training colleges, was instrumental in the foundation of its Institute of Education.


By the standards of 19th-century British Methodism, Lidgett's theology was liberal. He rejected the penal substitution doctrine of the atonement, and wanted to move his denomination away from its inherited tendency to a narrow evangelical stance, towards a social gospel. He founded the Bermondsey Settlement, the only Methodist foundation among the 19th century settlements in the East End of London. Like the secular settlements such as Toynbee Hall, it aimed to bring into the neighbourhood middle-class activists who could provide social and educational facilities for the poor, rather than concentrating narrowly on evangelism like the Church's more traditional "Missions" located in poor areas of London.

Within the Church, Lidgett founded the "Wesley Guild", a social organization aimed at young people but also offering activities to adults, which claimed over 150,000 members by 1900. He was President of the Wesleyan Methodist Conference (the ruling body of the denomination) in 1908-09. He was also an early supporter of the ecumenical movement and a key architect of British Methodist Union in 1932, and was the first President of the newly united church's conference. He remained in the active work of the ministry as chairman of the London South-West Methodist District until he was 94.

Lidgett was active in London politics for much of his career. He served as an alderman of the London County Council, and was leader of the Progressive Party on the Council from 1918 to 1928. He was prominent on the LCC Education Committee. He was appointed a Companion of Honour in 1933.

Personal life[edit]

Lidgett was a grandson of Wesleyan Rev. John Scott (1792–1868), a founder and first Principal of Westminster Training College.[2]

Lidgett married Emmeline Davies in 1884. They had a son (John Cuthbert Lidgett, b.1885, killed in action 1918) and a daughter (Lettice Mary Lidgett, b.1887, m. Gerald H. Davy 1911,[3] d.1980[4]). Emmeline died in 1934.

Lidgett died at Epsom on 16 June 1953, and was buried at West Norwood Cemetery.


Lidgett is remembered in the name of Scott Lidgett School, a comprehensive school built in Drummond Road, Bermondsey in the 1960s and closed in 1991, and in that of the road Scott Lidgett Crescent.[5] Both Drummond Road and Scott Lidgett Crescent lie near Jamaica Road.

Published works[edit]

  • The Spiritual Principle of the Atonement (the 1897 Fernley lecture)
  • The Fatherhood of God (1902)
  • The Christian Religion, its Meaning and Proof (1907)
  • God in Christ Jesus (1915)
  • Sonship and Salvation (1921)
  • The Victorian Transformation of Theology (the 1934 Maurice lectures)
  • The Idea of God and Social Ideals (1938)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Martin Wellings (2004). "Lidgett, John Scott (1854–1953)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004. Retrieved 20 August 2012.
  2. ^ F. C. Pritchard The Story of Westminster College 1851–1951 London:The Epworth Press 1951
  3. ^ England and Wales Civil Registration Indexes. London, England: General Register Office. 1911, October quarter; Vol. 12, p. 2105
  4. ^ England and Wales Civil Registration Indexes. London, England: General Register Office, 1980, Vol. 16, p. 2078
  5. ^


External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by
John Benn
Leader of the Progressive Party
Succeeded by
William C. Johnson
as leader of the Liberal Party
on London County Council
Academic offices
Preceded by
Sir Gregory Foster
Vice-Chancellor of the
University of London

Succeeded by
John Leigh Smeathman Hatton