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William Clowes (1780-1851)

William Clowes was born in Burslem, Staffordshire. He was apprenticed to a potter at the age of ten and as a young man was notoriously dissolute in his ways. He was converted in 1805 after attending a Methodist meeting and joined the local Wesleyan society. With his friend Hugh Bourne, Clowes fell under the influence of the Methodist mystic James Crawfoot who introduced them to the independent Methodist sects that existed in the North Midlands.

In 1807 Clowes led the first English camp meeting on Mow Cop on the border of Cheshire and Staffordshire. His irregular habits led in 1810 to his expulsion by the Wesleyans and the following year, Clowes and Bourne formed the Primitive Methodist Connexion.

Clowes laboured as a Primitive Methodist itinerant in the North of England until his superannuation in 1842. He was not as gifted an organiser as Bourne but was a preacher of considerable gifts. Affected by poor health, Clowes entered partial retirement in 1827. Much of his ministry was centred around the town of Hull, the largest Primitive Methodist circuit and where Clowes was resident from the 1820s.

Source: Lewis, Dictionary of Evangelical Biography (1995)

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