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Hugh Bourne

1772-1852. Founder of the Primitive Methodist Church.* Born at Stoke-on-Trent, he joined the Wesleyan Methodists, and in 1802 built a chapel for them at his own expense. By this time a local preacher, he organized with others in 1807 a camp meeting* of the type that had proved so successful in the USA. It was the first of many, despite the disapproval of his denomination, which eventually expelled him. Unwillingly Bourne organized a separate body which held its first conference in 1820, with a name that indicated a desire to restore Methodism to its primitive simplicity. Bourne journeyed to Scotland, Ireland, and the USA, and was everywhere well received, and by the time he died the movement had some 110,000 members. The body was not styled “church” until 1902; in 1932 nearly a quarter of a million Primitive Methodists in Great Britain united with others in the new Methodist Church. Bourne was a man of high principle and a total abstainer; for most of his life he worked as carpenter and builder so he would not be a charge on his church.