Clowes, William (1780-1851) (DNB00)

CLOWES, WILLIAM (1780–1851), primitive methodist, son of William Clowes, potter, and of Ann, daughter of Aaron Wedgwood, was born at Burslem, Staffordshire, on 12 March 1780, and employed during his early years as a working potter. He was considered one of the finest dancers in his neighbourhood, aspired to be the premier dancer in the kingdom, and gave a challenge to all England. For many years he led a dissipated life, but on 20 Jan. 1815 was converted. He soon established a prayer-meeting in his own house, became the leader of a Wesleyan methodist class, and joined a society which endeavoured to promote the better keeping of the Sunday. He was one of the attendants at the first camp-meeting ever held in England, which was at Mow Hill, near Harrisehead, on 31 May 1807, and was joined in this meeting by Hugh and James Bourne and others. In October 1808 he preached his trial sermon and was duly appointed a local preacher, but, continuing to associate with the Bournes and to attend camp-meetings, his name was omitted from the preachers plan in June 1810, and in September his quarterly ticket as a member of the society was withheld from him. After this he made common cause with H. and J. Bourne and J. Crawfort, and with them was one of the founders of the primitive methodist connexion, which dates its commencement from 14 March 1810 [see Bourne, Hugh]. From this time forward he became one of the best-known preachers of the new society, and his labours in most of the northern counties of England, as well as in London and Cornwall, were most successful in adding members to the church. In 1819 he visited Hull, where primitive methodism was as yet unknown, and such was the force and earnestness of his preaching that in six months three hundred persons joined the society. On 10 June 1842 he was placed on the superannuation fund, but still continued his labours as before, and was at his work until a day or two before his decease, which took place, from paralysis, at Hull on 2 March 1851. He was a man of strong common sense and of great mental powers.

[Davison's Life of W. Clowes, 1854 (with portrait); Petty's Primitive Methodist Connexion, 1864 (with portrait).]

G. C. B.