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Stevenson, George John (DNB00)


STEVENSON, GEORGE JOHN (1818–1888), author and hymnologist, born at Chesterfield on 7 July 1818, was the son of John George Stevenson (1792–1866) of Chesterfield, by his wife Jane, daughter of John Aldred. George was educated at Duttoris grammar school, Chesterfield. From an early age until 1844 he was employed in the printing and bookselling business. In 1844 he entered St. John's College, Battersea, to be trained for an organising mastership under the National Society. In 1846 a reformatory school was established in the Philanthropic Institute, Southwark, for the benefit of the better conducted criminals from the convict prisons, and Stevenson was appointed first headmaster. In 1848 he became headmaster of the endowed parochial school at Lambeth Green, but in 1855 he resigned his post and established himself in Paternoster Row as a bookseller and publisher, a business which he continued until a few years before his death. From 1861 to 1867 he was editor and proprietor of the ‘Wesleyan Times,’ and in 1882 he edited the ‘Union Review.’ He died on 16 Aug. 1888.

After joining the methodists in 1831, Stevenson took the keenest interest in their history and literature, and brought out several publications embodying the results of his researches. One of the most important of these is the ‘Methodist Hymn Book and its Associations,’ 1869, which was published in an enlarged form in 1883 as ‘The Methodist Hymn Book, illustrated with Biography, Incident, and Anecdote.’ According to the Rev. John Julian, this is ‘the most complete account of methodist hymnody extant.’ Besides the works mentioned, Stevenson wrote:

  1. ‘The Origin of Alphabetical Characters,’ London, 1853, 8vo.
  2. ‘Sketch of the Life of C. H. Spurgeon,’ London, 1857, 12mo; new edit. 1887.
  3. ‘The American Evangelist,’ London, 1860, 12mo.
  4. ‘The Prince of Preachers, C. H. Spurgeon,’ London, 1867, 8vo.
  5. ‘City Road Chapel, London, and its Associations,’ Edinburgh, 1872, 8vo.
  6. ‘Memorials of the Wesley Family,’ London, 1876, 8vo; new edit. 1883.
  7. ‘Sir Charles Reed: a Life Sketch,’ London, 1884, 4to.
  8. ‘Historical Records of the Young Men's Christian Association,’ London, 1884, 8vo.
  9. ‘Methodist Worthies,’ London, 1884, &c., 8vo.
  10. ‘Memorial Sketch of May Stevenson,’ London, 1886, 8vo.

He also edited ‘A Historical Sketch of the Christian Community, 1818–1826,’ London, 1868. 8vo, and ‘Samuel Wesley's Memorials of Elizabeth Ann Wesley,’ London, 1887, 8vo.

[Julian's Dict. of Hymnology, p. 1093; Boase and Courtney's Bibl. Cornub. ii. 689.]

E. I. C.