Hugh Stowell Brown

Hugh Stowell Brown (10 August 1823 - 24 February 1886) Christian minister and renowned preacher.

Hugh Stowell Brown was a preacher, pastor and social reformer in Liverpool in the nineteenth century. His public lectures and work among the poor brought him great renown. On his death a statue was raised to him, one of only three Liverpool clergymen to receive that honour. His brother was the Manx poet Thomas Edward Brown.

Life

Hugh Stowell Brown was born in Douglas in the Isle of Man, the son of a very low church Anglican vicar.

At 11 years of age he was taken out of school to read to his father, who was then threatened with blindness. In this way, he acquired a fund of miscellaneous information which was afterwards of great use to him.

In 1839, he went to England to learn land-surveying, and obtained an appointment on the Ordnance Survey. But he gave it up almost at once, and in 1840, we find him in the London and Birmingham railway engine shop at Wolverton. At this time he became a teetotaller and a Sunday-school teacher.

By the end of 1843, he had decided to be an Anglican vicar and went to College on the Isle of Man. But he was never convinced that it was right to baptise babies and in 1846 he gave up his studies because he realised his beliefs were Baptist.

In 1847 he travelled to Liverpool to preach at Myrtle Street Baptist Chapel, only having previously delivered a few sermons, and by his own admission did not speak well. But the church realised this was a young man with a lot to offer and they took him on as their minister.

In this position he continued during the rest of his life, and became one of Liverpool's greatest ever citizens.

His preaching was simple and direct, and humorous, full of homely proverbs and epigram. His speaking attracted the rich and powerful and the poor and uneducated. When he went to Myrtle Street the church had 239 members; 40 years later in 1884, it had 849 members.

But it was not only the congregation that benefited from his work. In 1851, he began a series of popular Sunday afternoon lectures in St George's Hall. Also in the summer evenings he spoke to large audiences of working class people who felt that they didn't have the right clothes to go to church – often a crowd of three to four thousand.

Through his work many of the poorer people were encouraged to put their money in the "Workman's Bank" established by his church in 1861. This helped people to develop habits of saving, and saved many hundreds of people from poverty.

In 1873, he visited the United States of America, when he recorded his opinion that that country would have "a future of greatness that has never been equalled in the history of the world."

During the last ten years of his life his name as a preacher had become a household word in Liverpool, and honours of various kinds were bestowed upon him. He became President of the Baptist Union of Great Britain, President of the Liverpool Branch of the Peace Society, and Chairman of the Liverpool Seamen's Friendly Society.

The son of Hugh Stowell Brown, J. Sirrett Brown founded the firm of Brown and Backhouse of Liverpool. He built many properties including The Hotel Victoria, New Brighton, Warren Point in Warren Drive and many more in the area. H.S. Brown's Grandson of the same name is still alive and in a nursing home in Wallasey, Wirral.

Statue

Soon after his death a statue of Hugh Stowell Brown was paid for by public subscription. The Statue was unveiled on Tuesday 15th October 1889 in the churchyard at the front of Myrtle Street Baptist Church opposite the Philharmonic Hall. In 1939 Myrtle Street church was closed and subsequently demolished, and the site is now a car park. The statue was moved to Princes Road/Avenue, Liverpool on Saturday 25th September 1954. The statue was then removed around the time that the William Huskisson was toppled from its pedestal in 1988. The now empty pedestal still stands close to Princes Park gates. The statue which is in poor condition is now lying forlornly in the stable yard at Croxteth Hall in Liverpool.

  • A MEMORIAL VOLUME - [1]