(extract from Manchester Faces and Places, Vol.1, July 1890)

The Mayor of Salford truthfully stated the other day that the separation of Canon Stowell from that borough was a matter which affected the whole district, because for sixty years the name of Stowell had been a household word in their midst. The Rev. Canon Stowell (whose portrait we give among this month’s "Faces") is the able son of a revered father the Rev. Hugh Stowell, great as a powerful evangelical preacher, who, in his day, was a very Luther in the ministry, recognised everywhere as a sturdy and talented defender of the Church and her privileges. His son, the Rev. Thomas Alfred Stowell, M.A., Rural Dean of Salford and Honorary Canon of Manchester, has just accepted the appointment of Rectory of Chorley, Lancashire, and Rural Dean of Leyland, and the severance of his long connection with Salford has elicited the expressions already referred to on the part of the Mayor and the leading parishioners.

Canon Stowell was born July 15, 1831, in Bolton Street, Salford, and is another of the leading men of the present day who received their early education at the Manchester Grammar School. He was afterwards a Bridgeman Exhibitioner at Queen’s College, Oxford, where he graduated in double honours in 1855. Two years later he was ordained by the late Bishop of Ripon (Dr. Bickersteth), to the curacy of Calverley, near Leeds. He afterwards held the sole charge of Bolton, near Bradford, where he built his first school, in which public worship for the district was held for three years. Preferred to the first incumbency of St. Stephen’s, Bowling, near Bradford, his activity in parochial educational work was shown by the erection of his second school, which gave a great stimulus to church interest in the neighbourhood. On his father’s death, in 1865, he was offered the Rectory of Christ Church, Salford, an appointment which he held until just recently, when he deemed it fitting to accept the appointments of the Rectory of Chorley (Lancashire), and Rural Dean of Leyland. His reason for the change, great has been the wrench of long association, was explained in a valedictory speech which he gave on the occasion of a presentation to mark the sense of esteem entertained for his twenty-four years’ work in Salford.

The increasing difficulties of so large a parish required one who was vigorous and strong, and though his health was good, he thought the present time was an opportune one for giving a younger man the invitation to guide the helm. There is not much repose for a clergyman in a busy sphere like Salford ; and the time comes to all - especially with the accompaniment of close upon threescore years, when tired Nature cries out for rest. Painstaking, earnest, and conscientious men like Canon Stowell are inevitably subject to much wear and tear in ordinary daily duties. Canon Stowell, it is gratefully admitted by his oldest parishioners, has carried on the work commenced by his father with noble simplicity of mind, marked ability, and consideratble self-abnegation; his great object has been to raise the people to a high standard, and never to forget that their duty is to follow the example of the Master. For the teaching of such men the world should be the better, and their absence from a neighbourhood is a public loss. To the duties of Mr. Stowell’s incumbency were added in 1879 those pertaining to the position of honorary Canon of Manchester Cathedral; he was also first honorary Secretary of the Diocesan Board of Education, the duties of which he discharged for eleven years; he is one of the honorary Secretaries of the Bishop of Manchester’s Fund for thc Diocese (now the Diocesan Home Mission Society) ; a representative of the Diocese (since 1882) on the Central Council of Diocesan Conferences, and one of the honorary Secretaries (since 1867) of the Central Association for stopping the sale of intoxicating liquors on Sunday.

The record of Christ Church parish in active work for education and other laudable objects is in itself a testimony to the zeal of the pastor and the co-operation of the people. The sum of £60,000 raised for religious and charitable purposes, £12,000 of which has been devoted to educational work in the parish, and nearly the same amount to foreign missions, is a testimony that "Church work" in Salford is more than a mere name. Two new schools have been opened - one of a higher character than the ordinary public elementary schools, which for eighteen years has been very succcsslul, and doing a most useful work. The Sunday schools have an attendance of about 2,000, and the number of day scholars, we learn, has increased from a little over 500 to nearly 1,700, while there are about the same number in the Sunday schools. Canon Stowell’s work in reference to schools is indeed regarded throughout the country, and especially in the districts in which he has laboured, as exceptionally valuable.

In addition to the schools which he has assisted in raising, he has greatly assisted the work of tuition in Church Sunday schools by his publications, which include "The Church Catechism Simply and Clearly Explained," (Elliot Stock) and many Hymns, chiefly for children, written for the Sunday school anniversaries, several of which are in most of the modern collections of Children’s Hymns. He is also the author of several published sermons, and has contributed papers to "The Churchman" and other magazines.

Evidently the best wishes from Salford accompany him in his new sphere of labour in another Lancashire district, where perhaps the daily burr of struggling life is not so loud, nor the struggle to keep pace with wicked- ness and worldliness so severe, and where mayhap the pastor’s lines fall in more pleasant places.

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Transcribed 2004, John Stowell