Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Stowell, Hugh

STOWELL, HUGH (1799–1865), divine, elder son of the Rev. Hugh Stowell, author of a ‘Life of Bishop Thomas Wilson,’ was born at Douglas, Isle of Man, on 3 Dec. 1799. William Hendry Stowell [q. v.] was his cousin. Hugh was educated at home and afterwards by the Rev. John Cawood, at Bewdley, Worcestershire, whence he proceeded in 1819 to St. Edmund Hall, Oxford. His college career was undistinguished except for his poetical productions and for achievements in the university debating society. He graduated B.A. on 5 Dec. 1822 and M.A. on 25 May 1826. He was ordained in 1823 by Bishop Ryder to the curacy of Shepscombe, Gloucestershire. This he exchanged in the course of a few months for that of Trinity Church, Huddersfield. He remained there until 1828, when he accepted the sole charge of St. Stephen's, Salford. Here he became popular as a preacher. His friends built for him Christ Church, Acton Square, Salford, of which he was appointed the first incumbent in 1831. For many years he was one of the most prominent leaders of the evangelical party in England, and was widely known as a vigorous and effective platform orator. He was ever denouncing the ‘errors of popery,’ and some remarks of his as to an alleged penance inflicted on a poor Roman catholic led to an action for libel in 1840, when the verdict went against him, with forty shillings damages; but on appeal this judgment was reversed by Lord-chief-justice Denman. A few years later he took a leading part in an agitation in favour of religious education.

He was appointed honorary canon of Chester Cathedral in 1845, chaplain to Dr. Lee, bishop of Manchester, in 1851, and rural dean of Eccles at a later date. He died at his residence, Barr Hill, Pendleton, near Manchester, on 5 Oct. 1865, and was buried in the church of which he had been minister for thirty-four years. His portrait, painted by Charles Mercier, was placed during his lifetime in the Salford town-hall. There was an earlier portrait by William Bradley. Both portraits were engraved.

By his wife, Anne Susannah, eldest daughter of Richard Johnson Daventry Ashworth of Strawberry Hill, Pendleton, whom he married in 1828, he had, besides other issue, the Rev. Hugh Ashworth Stowell (1830–1886), rector of Breadsall, Derby, and author of ‘Flora of Faversham’ (in the ‘Phytologist,’ 1855–6), of ‘Entomology of the Isle of Man’ (in the ‘Zoologist,’ 1862), and of other contributions (Britten and Boulger, Biographical Index of Botanists, 1893, p. 163); and the Rev. Thomas Alfred Stowell, M.A., now hon. canon of Manchester and rector of Chorley, Lancashire.

Among his numerous works are the following: 1. ‘The Peaceful Valley, or the Influence of Religion,’ 1825. 2. ‘Pleasures of Religion, and other Poems,’ 1832; enlarged edition, 1860. 3. ‘Tractarianism tested by Holy Scripture and the Church of England,’ 2 vols., 1845. 4. ‘A Model for Men of Business, or Lectures on the Character of Nehemiah,’ 1854. 5. ‘Sermons for the Sick and Afflicted,’ 1866. 6. ‘Hymns,’ edited by his son, 1868. 7. ‘Sermons preached in Christ Church, Salford,’ 1869.

[Marsden's Memoirs of Stowell, 1868, with portrait; Evans's Lancashire Authors and Orators, 1850, Life of William McKerrow, D.D., 1881; Manchester Guardian, 6 Oct. 1865; Foster's Alumni Oxon. 1715–1886; Gent. Mag. 1865, ii. 789; Julian's Dict. of Hymnology; Brit. Mus. Cat.]

C. W. S.