Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Bowes, John (1804-1874)

BOWES, JOHN (1804–1874), preacher, was born at Swineside, Coverdale, in Coverham parish, Yorkshire, on 12 June 1804, the son of parents in very humble circumstances. While still in his teens he began preaching, first among the Wesleyans, then as a primitive methodist minister. About 1830 he separated himself from that body, and, renouncing all party appellations, started a mission at Dundee, where he was joined by Mr. (afterwards Dr.) Jabez Burns. Bowes subsequently left Dundee and went from town to town, preaching in the open air or wherever he could gather a congregation, but he always declined to take part in a service at which money was taken, as he could not think of 'saddling the gospel with a collection.' He was several times prosecuted for street preaching, and often suffered privations in his journeyings. He was an earnest and vigorous platform speaker, ever ready to combat with socialists, freethinkers, or Roman catholics. With like ardour he entered into the advocacy of temperance and of peace, and in 1848 was one of the representatives of England at the Brussels Peace congress. During the greater portion of his life he refused to accept a salary for his ministrations, and he seems to have supported himself and family chiefly by the sale of his own tracts and books. He died at Dundee on 23 Sept. 1874, aged 70.

His publications consist of some 220 tracts; two series of magazines—the 'Christian Magazine' and the 'Truth Promoter'—issued between 1842 and 1874; pamphlets on 'The Errors of the Church of Rome,' 'Mormonism exposed,' 'Second Coming of Christ,' 'The Ministry,' &c. ; discussions with Lloyd Jones, G. J. Holyoake, Joseph Barker, C. Southwell, W. Woodman, and T. H. Milner; a volume on 'Christian Union' (1835, 310 pages); a translation by himself of the New Testament (1870); and his 'Autobiography' (1872). His son, Robert Aitken Bowes, was editor of the 'Bolton Guardian,' and died on 7 Nov. 1879, aged 42.

[Autobiography or History of the Life of John Bowes, 1872; Alliance News, 10 Oct. 1874; G. J. Holyoake's History of Co-operation, i. 326; Old South-East Lancashire, 1880, p. 40.]

C. W. S.