Higginson, Henry (1805-1871)

Primitive Methodist Magazine
Englesea Brook Museum ENBM 1990.21.14a

Early years

Henry was born on 19 August 1805 at Pendeford Mills, Staffordshire. He was educated at Brewood Grammar School. His father, John Higginson, was a farmer and miller.


Higginson was popularly known as ‘Six feet of Eccentricity’ and as ‘The Roving Ranter’.

One of his first missions was to the Gower in March 1834. It is recorded that he used the Murton Wesleyan Chapel, which had fallen into disrepair as one of his preaching bases. A diary of that mission was published in the PM magazine in 1835.

Henry was sent to mission Luton and Dunstable in 1839 from the Shefford circuit, along with Samuel Turner. They opened their mission at Houghton Regis on 21 April, gathering a crowd by singing in the streets. The work in Luton prospered and by 14 November a chapel was opened in the most needy part of town. Henry’s work in Luton was cut short by a fever caught through visiting some sick persons.

When he had recovered, he was sent to Marlborough and within a year the mission was set up as a separate circuit with two travelling preachers and 276 members.

Henry was a noted hymn writer amongst the Primitive Methodists, often using popular tunes of the day. Ritson tells the story of Henry on his way to a tea meeting at Walsall hearing a lad singing a tune which caught the preacher’s fancy. The lad was induced, on the promise of a penny to sing it over again. At the close of the rehearsal, Henry handed over the penny with the significant remark: ‘I’ve got the tune and the devil can take the words’.


Henry married Emma Fincher Smith (1820-1899) in 1844 at Kidderminster. They had five children.

  • Henry (1846-1851)
  • Jane Selina (b1847) – a millener
  • Adolphus Frederick Augustus (1848-1896) – a commercial traveller
  • Alexander (1852-1926) – a carpenter
  • John (1854-1881)

Henry died on 15 March 1871 at Aston, Warwickshire.


  • 1833 Blaenavon
  • 1834 Pillowell & Hereford
  • 1836 St Austell
  • 1837 Pillowell & Hereford
  • 1838 Faringdon
  • 1839 Shefford
  • 1840 Darlaston
  • 1841 Tunstall
  • 1842 Dudley
  • 1843 Kidderminster
  • 1844 Sandbach
  • 1846 Hadnall
  • 1847 Darlaston
  • 1849 Dudley
  • 1850 Brierley Hill
  • 1851 Ramsor
  • 1853 Dawley
  • 1854 Darlaston
  • 1857 Brierley
  • 1859 Leintwardine
  • 1861 Dudley
  • 1863 Birmingham
  • 1865 Newcastle under Lyme
  • 1867 Newcastle under Lyme (S)
  • 1870 Birmingham


Primitive Methodist Magazine 1835; 1872/300; 1903/869

PM Minutes 1871/10

J Petty, The History of the Primitive Methodist Connexion, 1880, p358, p361, p453

B A Barber, A Methodist Pageant, 1932, p73-4

H B Kendall, Origin and History of the PM Church, vol 2, p32

Joseph Ritson, The Romance of Primitive Methodism , 1909, p270

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



Comments about this page

  • I am a relative of Henry Higginson
    his nephew was my great, great grandfather Allen Joshua Higginson

    By Mrs Val Corbett (22/02/2020)
  • This page was modified on 6 August 2017 to add a transcription of a sketch published in the Primitive Methodist Magazine, 1903. Occupational information has also been added about his father.

    By Geoff Dickinson (06/08/2017)

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