Macpherson, James (1814-1901)

Primitive Methodist Magazine
Englesea Brook Museum ENBM 1990.21.21b

James was born in Edinburgh in 1814.

Connexional Responsibilities

James was appointed Editor of the Primitive Methodist Magazine from 1871 to 1876.

James was President of Conference in 1872.

Ministerial Training

During the period 1881-1889 James was the first Principal of the Manchester Ministerial Training College, later known as Hartley College. It appears that in the early days of the college he had to be a ‘jack of all trades’ being Principal, Tutor, Secretary and Financial Agent. The college was jokingly known as the ‘House of Perpetual Starvation’, an obvious caricature, but sufficient to illustrate the necessity of the strictest economy in the work of administration. The Manchester College was the third ministerial training venture after Elmfield College (1865) and the Sunderland Theological Institute (1868)


James  authored ‘Life and Labours of John Petty’ and the supplement to the third edition of Petty’s ‘History of the Primitive Methodist Connexion’


James married Fanny Bishop Buck (1810-1858) in 1839. Fanny was from Wyke Regis in Dorset. They had five children.

  • Christian, born in 1840 married Duncan Kennedy.
  • Archibald (1842-1890)
  • Sophia, born in Rochdale in 1846.
  • Jessie, born in Chester in 1849.
  • George (1852-1911) – in 1891 he was an undertaker.

James remarried to Mary Jane Aspinall in 1861. She was born in Salford in 1815 and died in 1888.

James died on 18 April 1901 at Cluny Cottage, Chorlton cum Hardy.


  • 1833 Sunderland
  • 1836 Manchester
  • 1837 Preston Brook
  • 1838 Silsden
  • 1840 Rochdale
  • 1843 Keighley
  • 1845 Preston
  • 1847 Chester
  • 1849 Haslingden
  • 1851 Stockport
  • 1854 Manchester lll
  • 1856 Blackburn
  • 1859 Birkenhead
  • 1862 Manchester ll
  • 1865 Manchester lll
  • 1869 Haslingden
  • 1871 London
  • 1876 Manchester
  • 1878 Principal T.I.
  • 1887 Manchester (S)


Primitive Methodist Magazine 1856/449; 1915/739; 1919/22

PM Minutes 1901/26

H B Kendall, Origin and History of the PM Church, vol 2, p528

B A Barber, A Methodist Pageant, 1932, p213-215, p220

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

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers


Comments about this page

  • This page was modified on 2 April 2017 to add a transcription of a memorial poem about James, published in the Primitive Methodist Magazine 1901.

    By Geoff Dickinson (02/04/2017)
  • James Macpherson also wrote a book, “The larger Hope: is it scriptural?” which was published by James B. Knapp in the 1880s. It arose from a series of articles in one of the Primitive Methodist periodicals. A copy is at Englesea Brook.

    By David Young (23/01/2016)

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