Morton, John (1809-1862)

Primitive Methodist Magazine 1854 | Copy provided by Steven Carter
Primitive Methodist Magazine 1854
Copy provided by Steven Carter

Early years

John was born 23 April 1809 at Hope, Derbyshire to parents George Morton and Hannah Middleton, the oldest of ten children. He was baptised on 7 May 1809 at Hope Parish Church, Derbyshire. George and Hannah are recognised as being among the first Primitive Methodists in Bradwell. George allowed services to be held in his barn before the first chapel was built in 1822 and opened by Hugh Bourne.

John was converted in 1821, joined the Primitives and soon became a class leader and local preacher in his teens.

Ministry

John started as an itinerant preacher aged 20, accompanying Paul Sugden to the Wrockwardine Circuit.

Kendal writes; ‘ Primitive Methodism did not win a place and position in Hereford without a struggle. Indeed, for a number of years, it would be truer to say that it had to fight for its existence, rather than that it flourished. It was eighteen years before Hereford became the head of a circuit. The society, numerically feeble, had to do its best to grow in a niggardly soil and in the cold shade of opposition, such as often rests on Dissent in cathedral cities. During this time there was much adverse sentiment to face, and frequently the roughs took advantage of it to annoy the worshippers at their camp meetings, and even in their own rented room in Union Street. But, at last, persecution was undone by its own act, and better times came. On August 26th, 1833, when Mr. J. Morton, the superintendent, was holding an open-air service at the Friars’, in the neighbourhood of Quaker Lane, he was arrested by the direct orders of an irascible magistrate. Mr. E. Pritchard, attorney and Congregationalist, generously undertook to plead Mr. Morgan’s cause before the mayor and magistrates on the following day; while Mr. Morgan, by his firm though respectful attitude made a powerful impression on the crowded court. Messrs. Pritchard and Yapp stood bail, but when the Sessions came no “true bill” was found against the street-preacher ; and, after this, street preachings were un-molested, and public sentiment became much more favourable. The Circuit Report of 1836 speaks of the prosperity of Hereford. “The room is now generally crowded ; there are now eighty members, whereas in 1829 there had been but twenty-two.” Persecution is spoken of in the past tense: “At Hereford our people have been persecuted, and on various occasions life has been in danger. Several attempts have been made to obtain redress but we could not succeed, because many of the higher powers were utterly opposed to our cause. But now some of the respectable inhabitants are favourable towards us, and use their authority for our benefit, and some of our most violent persecutors are gone the way of all flesh, some are transported, and some converted to God.” In June, 1838, a chapel was opened in the city, and in 1840 Hereford became the head of a new circuit with two travelling preachers and 220 members. The present beautiful church in St. Owen’s Street was erected in 1880 at a cost of £3561, and yet within twelve months after its opening the building was out of debt. It has seatage for six hundred people, and the schoolroom behind has accommodation for three hundred scholars.’

Literature

John was an author of several popular works, including;
The Husband that will suit you and how to treat him
The Wife that will suit you and how to win her, 1856
Lectures to the Young Men
Reasons for being a Primitive Methodist

Family

John married Anne Cambridge. He died on 6 October 1862 at West Bromwich.

Circuits

  • 1829 Wrockwardinewood
  • 1830 Burland (6mths)
  • 1830 Prees (6mths)
  • 1831 Prees (6mths)
  • 1831 Tunstall (6mths)
  • 1832 Pillowell
  • 1834 Kidderminster
  • 1836 Presteign
  • 1837 Bishops Castle
  • 1839 Prees
  • 1841 Cwm
  • 1844 Darlaston
  • 1847 Oswestry
  • 1850 Congleton
  • 1852 Dudley
  • 1854 Darlaston
  • 1856 Birmingham
  • 1858 Brierley Hill
  • 1861 West Bromwich

References

Primitive Methodist Magazine 1832/235; 1853/569 (wife); 1854/129 (portrait); 1863/257

PM Minutes 1863/7

J Petty, The History of the Primitive Methodist Connexion, 1880, p369

H B Kendall, Origin and History of the PM Church, vol 1, p503; vol, p304

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

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

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