Religion in the village of Cowling, West Yorkshire is likely to be the subject of a future post. However it provides me with something to write about for Amanuensis Monday this week. My Dawson ancestry is firmly rooted in Cowling. My 2xgreat grandfather, John Dawson married Ellen Gawthrop on 8th April 1844 in the Parish Church of Kildwick.
So I am connected to John Gawthrop by marriage. He is my 1st cousin 3x removed.
John was born c1853 and he married Elizabeth Thornton in 1890. As far as I have been able to determine they had at least two children – Elsie and John.
On the 1871 census John was living with his parents and working as a weaver. In 1881 he was still with his parents but his occupation had changed to a local mission preacher. By 1891 John was away doing mission work and he and Elizabeth are shown as visitors at an address in Gravenhurst, Bedfordshire. His occupation is shown as Wesleyan Minister. In 1901 John, Elizabeth and their two children were living in Kirkby Stephen, Cumberland.
I guess it’s a sign of how much they moved about the country that Elsie was born c1892 in Northampton and John was born c1896 in Foleshill, Warwickshire.
OK, that just about sets the scene!
John became active as a preacher during the period known as Revivalism. These revivial services were well attended and John was a regular and popular preacher at the Ickornshaw Chapel. This article refers to John as:-
“a typical product of the revivalist era and whose unorthodox methods and powerful personality made him one of the most successful mission workers of his day. He gained a high place in the Wesleyan ministry, conducting several large missions in various cities and serving as pastor of important churches throughout the country”.
This article from the Cumberland & Westmorland Herald of November 2000 includes a look back to 100 years ago and tells the story of John speaking in Kirkby Stephen and complaining that “there were no young men in the Wesleyan societies. At Dent Head, Blencarn and Milburn, where he had just held missions, there was not a single young man and scarcely a young woman to be seen. It was a shame that the devil should have the cream of the young people”.
I get the impression that John was a bit of firebrand and I would love to be able to get copies of some of his sermons if they still exist. Writing this post has motivated me to see if the Methodist Church have any records remaining of John Gawthrop and his work. So I may be talking about him again if I am successful.