Bowran, John George (1869-1946)

Primitive Methodist Magazine 1916
Primitive Methodist Magazine 1932
Elizabeth Batey Bowran
Primitive Methodist Magazine 1908
Eleanor Hedley Bowran
Primitive Methodist Magazine 1929

Early years

John was born on 25 June 1869 at Gateshead, Co Durham, to parents William and Jane.  William was an engine driver at the pit. John was one of eight sons. He was baptised on 1 August 1869 at Holy Trinity, Gateshead. The family’s religious activities were centred on the Prince Consort Road Church, Gateshead.

John was educated and served his apprenticeship as a pupil teacher in the Wesleyan Day School, Gateshead, before entering Hartley College.


His work at Middlesbrough, consolidating and extending the great revival that transformed the religious life of the town at the turn of the century, marked John out as a man of courage, initiative and vision. He revealed gifts of organisation of a very high order and, behind them, a gallant, gay, and winsome personality that endeared him to all.

John was Connexional Editor from 1916 to 1921. The early years of WW1 had caused a slump in circulation of the Magazines. John was able to tune the content to arrest the decline.

John was President of Conference in 1928, an office he filled with a dignity and friendliness only possible to true humility. He had a genius for friendship and his zeal for evangelism was the keynote of his life.

His last address to the Newcastle Synod, a few weeks before his death, was a passionate plea for evangelical preaching.


John wrote under the pen name, Ramsey Guthrie.

  • On God’s lines, and other stories, 1899
  • Idylls of Rosehill, 1901
  • Elsie Macgregor, or, the maid of the mine, 1904
  • Black Dyke, 1904
  • Neddy Jacques and others, 1907
  • A son of the silence, 1908
  • The Maddisons of Moorlea, 1908
  • The Cranstons: a tale of two brothers, 1909
  • The canny folks o’coal-vale, 1910
  • The doctor’s daughter, 1912
  • With signals clear, 1914
  • Brotherhood Stories, 1916
  • The old folks at home: the romance of the aged miners, 1919
  • Bessie Binney, 1922

He authored the following under his own name.

  • Life of Arthur Thomas Guttery D.D., 1921
  • Christianity and Culture – Hartley lecture 1923
  • My memories, 1946


John married Elizabeth Batey Robson (1870-1907) in September 1893 at Prince Consort Road Church, Gateshead, Co Durham. Census returns identify four children.

  • John Ramsey Guthrie (1897-1974) – a local preacher; a company director (1950)
  • Elizabeth Mary (1899-1991)
  • William Norman (1902-1976) – a local preacher
  • Douglas Robert (1903-1991) – a local preacher

John married Eleanor Hedley Davison (abt1879-1950) in the spring of 1911 at Chester-le-Street. Birth records identify two daughters.

  • Margaret Winifred (1913-2006) – married Stanley Bell in 1940
  • Kathleen (1920-2002) – married Richard Elwes Robson in 1941

John died on 8 December 1946 at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Northumberland.

For more family information follow this link to a page prepared by John Martin Bell.


  • Hartley
  • 1889 Newton & Hyde
  • 1893 Cockermouth
  • 1895 Barnsley II
  • 1896 Spenymoor
  • 1900 Middlesbrough
  • 1908 Hexham
  • 1911 Stockton
  • 1916 Editor
  • 1921 Surrey Chapel
  • 1925 Newcastle II
  • 1931 Harrogate
  • 1935 N Shields (S)


Primitive Methodist Magazine 1908/72; 1914/434; 1916/620; 1929/1; 1932/263

Methodist Minutes 1947/135

W Leary, Directory of Primitive Methodist Ministers and their Circuits, 1990

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

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