Obituary of Canon Hugh Stowell

Manchester Guardian of October 9, 1865

The Rev. Canon Stowell, rector of Christ Church Salford, died at one o’clock yesterday, at his residence Bar Hill, Bolton Road, Pendleton, in the sixty-sixth year of his age. Mr. Stowell was born in December, 1799, at the Parsonage of Douglas, Isle of Man. His father was for many years rector of the parish of Ballaugh, near that town, where he composed his “Life of the Right Rev. Thomas Wilson some time bishop of Sodor and Man.”

Mr. Stowell matriculated as a commoner at St. Edmund Hall, Oxford, in 1818, and at the close of his undergraduate career took his degree of B.A. in Michaelmas term 1823. He proceeded to his Master’s degree May 25, 1826. On the ?th of December, 1823, he was ordained by the Hon. Right Rev. Dr. Henry Ryder at that time bishop of Gloucester, and subsequently of Lichfield and Coventry. His title for orders was the assistant curacy of an outlying chapelry of Sheepscombe, Painswick, not far from Stroud, in the county and diocese of Gloucester. His stay, however, in this rural parish was only of about three months’ duration, for in the following spring he removed to Huddersfield in which busy manufacturing town he accepted the curacy of Trinity Church. He remained at Huddersfield about two years, when he accepted the sole charge of St. Stephen’s Church, Salford. Here he became so popular as a preacher and esteemed as a devoted and laborious pastor, that in the fear of losing him among the many pressing invitations which he received to undertake other and more valuable appointments, a number of his parishoners and friends subscribed a handsome sum of money, and built for him Christ Church, in Acton Square, Salford, of which he became the first incumbent. The church was founded May 28, 1830, and was consecrated November 4, 1831, the Sunday schools in Hulme street having been erected in the early part of that year.

The church and schools cost upwards of £15,000, the whole of which sum was voluntarily contributed. This church, which was considerably enlarged in 1847, contains 1,900 seats, of which 750 are free. It is remarkable as having been the first church which was consecrated under the act of Parliament, which, for the encouragement of persons willing to build churches, gives the right of nomination in perpetuity to the persons erecting them, and providing that when the number of subscribers is more than five the patronage shall be vested in that number of trustees, to be chosen in the first instance by the subscribers themselves, and filled up on every subsequent vacancy by the remaining trustees, in conjunction with the incumbent. The district of Christ Church was constituted a parish and rectory under the act for re-arranging the spiritualities of Manchester. At the last census the parish contained a population of about 10,000.

In 1845 Mr. Stowell was nominated by Bishop Sumner to an honorary canonry in the Cathedral Church of Chester. In 1851, not long after the erection of Manchester into an episcopal see, Canon Stowell was appointed by the Bishop, Dr. James Prince Lee, one of His Lordship’s chaplains, and on the 14th of November in that year Mr. Stowell preached the visitation sermon in Manchester Cathedral. Subsequently, Mr. Stowell was appointed ? of Salford.

At the close of the Art Treasure Exhibition, in 1857, Mr. Stowell preached a special sermon on the lessons to be gathered from that remarkable collection of works of art; and when the British Association visited this city he addressed crowded congregations which included the most distinguished members of the Association, on the relationship of science to religion. During the latter portion of his ministerial career, Mr. Stowell has not appeared so prominently before the public as a controversialist as he did during the lively discussions on what was termed “the Papal ag....” and the warm debates in this locality on the ... question.

During his latter days his efforts were more devoted to ministerial work, the advocacy of ? ?, and the promotion of religious causes with which he sympathised. The only occasion on which there was any approach, in recent years, to the ? scenes of his earlier days, was when the Church Congress was held in Manchester in October 186?. During the sittings of the Congress a “scene” was brought about by some pointed personal remarks addressed by Archdeacon Denison to Mr. Stowell, but the misunderstanding was speedily rectified, and was promptly followed by a public apology from the Archdeacon.

Mr. Stowell was an earnest promoter of educational efforts, and as an indication of the extent to which they were carried on in his own parish it may be stated that the collections at the anniversary school sermons in Christchurch usually reached near £300, and that the number of children on the books of Mr. Stowell’s schools in May last was about 2,100, of whom 1,500 were Sunday scholars and 600 day scholars.

In the early part of 1862 Mr. Stowell visited Sunderland for the purpose of lecturing on loyalty to the Church, under the auspices of the Church Defence Association, and while at the rectory of the Rev. Mr. Eden he injured his kneecap very severely by a fall down some stairs. This accident obliged him to absent himself from duty for a few weeks. On the 24th of October last he sustained a similar injury while on a visit to Matlock, and although at the Church anniversary, in November, he declared that he was in excellent health, it was too apparent to his friends that a gradual diminution of strength was taking place, and there were undeniable indications of a break-up of the constitution. This gave rise to feelings of much anxiety, but it was not until the spring of the present year that Mr. Stowell was himself willing to admit that his strength was failing.

In the week preceding Easter the evening lectures usually taken throughout the week by the rector were divided between the rector and his curates; and on Easter Sunday, it was known that Mr. Stowell had been requested by his medical attendant to cease for a season from active duty, in conseqence of enlargement of the heart having manifested itself. Mr. Stowell remained at his post taking partial duty, the anniversary sermons had been preached and a confirmation had been held, and on Trinity Sunday morning, June 11, he preached his last sermon. He was then evidently suffering from extreme weakness. The charge of the church was delegated to the curates, the Rev. W. Robinson and the Rev. R. T. Ridyard, and Mr. Stowell left home on visits to friends in the adjoining counties. He occasionally returned for the Sunday services, but not to preach.

The three months’ prohibition of his medical adviser having expired on the first Sunday in September, Mr. Stowell announced his intention to resume his pulpit ministrations, but so little improvement had taken place that he was pursuaded to seek a further period of repose.

In the first week of September, Mr. Stowell proceeded to Grasmere, and while there he had a severe attach of diptheria and was compelled to return home. In a few days the disease seemed to abate, but the symptoms arising from his old ailment became more unfavourable. About a week since congestion of the lungs was added to the other affections, and he continued gradually to sink until yesterday, when death closed his sufferings, which have been very acute.

Mr. Stowell was married in 1828 to Anne Susannah, eldest daughter of Mr. Richard Ashworth, barrister, of Strawberry Hill, Pendleton, by whom he had a family of three sons and six daughters. His youngest child, a son, died in infancy, and his eldest daughter died in 1861(?), a few months after her marriage to the Rev. Mr. Keene of Oldham. Mr. Stowell’s surviving sons are clergymen in the Church of England; the eldest, the Rev. Hugh Ashworth Stowell, being incumbent of Waralow and Elksl?? in Derbyshire; and the second, the Rev. Thomas Alfred Stowell, is the incumbent of Bowling ?, near Bradford.

The next presentation to the living is vested in five trustees. Only one of the original trustees is living, Robert Gardner, and we believe that his co-trustees are Messrs. Le Mare, Blacklock, Crowdson and Makin.

The activities of a busy life left Mr. Stowell but little leisure for authorship, yet he found time to contribute the following works to the catalogue of contemporary literature:- “Tractarianism Tested,” 2 vols.; Lectures on the character of Nehamiah, - a model for men of business,”“Sel?? Culture,” The Voice of the Church in Holy Baptism,” the “?deration of the Church of England,” “Worldly Anx??,” The Bible Self Evidential,” “The pleasures of religion and other poems;” “Conversion,” “William B??er – a Warning,” “The Age We Live In,” “The Day of Rest;” and several other theological works; sermons, lectures, speeches and letters.

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Transcribed by John Stowell from a microfilm copy.