Hollowell, James Hirst (DNB12)

HOLLOWELL, JAMES HIRST (1851–1909), advocate of unsectarian education, born in St. Giles's Street, Northampton, on 25 Feb. 1851, was son of William Hollowell, shoemaker and a local preacher in the reformed Wesleyan denomination. His mother's maiden name was Mary Anne Swinfield. He left school early to earn a living, but read widely by himself, and also attended a class which met three times a week from five to six in the morning. In early youth he showed a gift for public speaking, and at eighteen became a temperance agent and lecturer. Joining the congregationalists at Dumfries, he decided to study for the congregational ministry. He was already married when in 1871 he entered Nottingham (congregational) institute. He went on to Cheshunt College in the f oUowing year, and there won a scholarship. From 1875 to 1882 he was pastor at Bedford chapel, Camden Town, London, and from 1882 to 1889 was minister of Park Hill congregational church, Nottingham. At Nottingham he was for a time chairman of the school board. Subsequently he was pastor of Milton church, Rochdale, from October 1889 till December 1896. This charge he relinquished in order to devote himself to the work of organising secretary of the Northern Counties Education League for promoting unsectarian state education. He was practically the founder of this league. His faith in unsectarian education was strong and uncompromising. In 1903 he took a leading part in organising with the Rev. John Clifford 'the passive resistance movement' against the payment of rates and taxes, on the ground that the Education Act of 1902 gave an inequitable support at state expense to church schools which taught church doctrine. Learned in educational legislation, he was a forcible speaker and an untiring pamphleteer. He also wrote a novel entitled 'Ritualism Abandoned or a Priest Redeemed' (1899), under the pseudonym of K. Ireton, and 'What Nonconformists stand for' (1901 ; 2nd edit. 1904).

In 1904 Hollowell unsuccessfully contested the South Birmingham division against Viscount Morpeth. In 1908 he was elected chairman of the Lancashire Congregational Union.

His exertions broke down his health, and he died of cerebral apoplexy at Rochdale on 24 Deo. 1909. He was buried at Rochdale cemetery. A memorial bust, by John Cassidy, was unveiled at the Congregational Church House, Manchester, on 3 April 1911.

He married at Dumfries, in 1870, Sarah, daughter of James Lacey of Crewkeme, Somerset, and had one son and five daughters.

[W. Evans and W. Claridge, James Hirst Hollowell and the Movement for Civic Control in Education, 1911 (with portraits) ; Congregational Year Book, 1911, p. 176; Manchester Guardian, 27 Dec. 1909.]

C. W. S.