Religious institutions

Historical Account of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne Including the Borough of Gateshead. Originally published by Mackenzie and Dent, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 1827.

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Eneas Mackenzie, 'Religious institutions', Historical Account of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne Including the Borough of Gateshead, (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 1827), pp. 569-574. British History Online [accessed 16 June 2024].

Eneas Mackenzie. "Religious institutions", in Historical Account of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne Including the Borough of Gateshead, (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 1827) 569-574. British History Online, accessed June 16, 2024,

Mackenzie, Eneas. "Religious institutions", Historical Account of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne Including the Borough of Gateshead, (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 1827). 569-574. British History Online. Web. 16 June 2024,

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THIS society was instituted in 1809, to "encourage a wider circulation of the Holy Scriptures, without note or comment," The Rev. R, Prosser, D. D. archdeacon of Durham; Sir M. W. Ridley, Bart, M. P.; Cuthbert Ellison, Esq. M. P.; and Matthew Bell, Esq. M. P. are Vice-presidents. The Secretaries are the Revds. J. Tyson and W. Turner, and Mr. John Bruce; the Treasurer, W. S. Batson, Esq.; and the Depositaries, Mr. G. Richardson and Mr. James Finlay; who, with a committee of 20 gentlemen, conduct the business of the society. Each annual subscriber is a member; and those who subscribe five guineas annually are governors, A subscriber of £50, or an executor paying a bequest of £100, is a governor for life. Governors, clergymen, or Dissenting ministers who are members, are entitled to vote at all meetings of the committee.

Since the commencement of this society to the anniversary meeting held December 6, 1826, there were purchased for the depot 17,363 Bibles and 15,773 Testaments. Its interests are supported with uncommon zeal. (fn. 1) By the report of the sub-committee appointed to form and encourage branch associations, signed J. R. Wilson, Secretary, it appears that, in 1826, they made, exclusive of occasional visits, three regular tours through different divisions of Northumberland, during which they established 27 associations and agencies!

The Ladies' Branch of the Newcastle upon Tyne Auxiliary Bible Society was established in 1819; since which time the managers have paid to the Newcastle Depository £833, and voted to the British and Foreign Bible Society £250, The total number of Bibles and Testaments distributed by the ladies of this establishment, to November, 1826, is 2333.

The Tyne Union Committee, during the last year, visited 168 ships, and sold 45 Bibles and 28 Testaments. The total number of vessels visited since the establishment of the Tyne Union Committee is 1354, and of Bibles and Testaments distributed 1160.

The following is a statement of the accounts of the Newcastle Bible Society for the year ending December 6, 1826:—

1826. Dr. L. s. d. 1825. Cr. L. s. d.
Jan. 28. Remittances for Bibles, &c. 795 7 8 Dec 15. Balance brought forward 179 14 3
Mar. 28. Free contributions to parent society 82 12 9 1826. Collection at anniversary meeting for the London Hibernian Society 9 10 3
Ditto for London Hibernian Society 9 10 3 Dec. 6. Female Branch Society on account 105 0 0
Mr. Edward Walker, for printing, &c. 12 18 0 Country associations 382 8 10
Dec. 6. Depositary for incidentals 16 18 6 Tyne Union Committee, for sales 15 11 8
Balance in the hands of the treasurer 40 15 6 Sabbath School Union, for Bibles 15 0 0
Collection at Rev. J. Hughes'public meeting 15 4 1
Subscriptions, donations, and arrears 158 14
Sales per depositaries 76 19 0
L.958 2 8 L.958 2 8
Due from country associations for Bibles L.298 14 9 Due to parent society for Bibles L.409 12 1


This society, which was instituted April 5, 1813, is supported by donations and subscriptions of one penny a week and upwards. Its object is to promote the circulation of the Holy Scriptures at Home. At its commencement, this town and neighbourhood was divided into districts, and all the houses of the poor were visited. The result was, that 725 families and individuals were found without Bibles. Most of these agreed to pay the collectors a stated sum weekly for a copy; and, during the first four years of the Association, 1191 Bibles and 886 Testaments were distributed, and £775, 4s. 3½d. was received by the treasurer. This Association has ceased to act, though it has not been formally dissolved.


This society was formed October 30, 1817, in aid of the London Church Missionary Society for Missions to Africa and the East. It is supported by benefactions, collections, and annual subscriptions of 6d. per month and upwards. From its commencement to the anniversary meeting held in the Concert-room, April 14, 1826, the sum of £2325, 6s. 4d. had been collected; all of which, after deducting the necessary expenses, was remitted to the parent society. The Right Honourable and Reverend Lord Decies is President; C. N. Wawn, Treasurer; and Mr. J. R. Featherston and Mr. T. Balls, Secretaries. There are also ten Vice-presidents.


This society was established in 1796, under the title of the Missionary Corresponding Society, it being designed to co-operate with the parent society (fn. 2) at London. It is supported by small donations and subscriptions from the ministers and members of the Dissenting congregations in Newcastle and the vicinity. In the last published report, read at the anniversary meeting held at the Postern New Chapel on August 23, 1826, the treasurer's account with the parent society stood thus:—

1825. Dr. L. s. d. 1825. Cr. L. s. d.
Aug. 18. To balance 4 16 Aug. 25. By cash paid Dr. Bouge 51 0 0
To collections by the deputations 51 0 0 1826 By sundries 5 0 10
1826. To subscriptions and donations 33 5 1 March 27, By bill sent to parent society 111 0 0
March 1. To cash from Female Association 55 0 0 Aug. 23. By balance in hand 2 16 6
To do. from Young Men's do. 20 0 0
To do. from prayermeetings, &c. 5 15
L.169 17 4 L.169 17 4

The New Missionary Society of Young Men, in aid of the London Missionary Society, was established in 1815. It was afterwards united with a similar association of young ladies.


This society was established in 1819, and is in connection with 15 corresponding committees in the north of England. The central committee at Newcastle consists of 12 members, exclusive of Mr. J. L. Angas, Treasurer; Rev. R. Pengilly, Assistant Treasurer and Secretary; R. J. Williamson, Assistant Secretary; and Mr. James Redshaw, Collector. The objects of the society are, 1. The translation and printing of the Scriptures; 2. The preaching of the Gospel to the Heathen; 3. The establishment and support of schools for the children of natives. The total biennial collection, including donations made in 1825, amounted to £330, 15s. 0¾d. of which sum £275, 7s. 4d. was remitted to the parent society. (fn. 3)


This association has been in active operation for some years, and is under the direction of a committee; Mr. John Fenwick being Treasurer, and the Rev. George Sample and Mr. H. Angas Secretaries. The Juvenile and Female Branch Societies co-operate with great zeal. The cash collected for the year ending April, 1826, (including a balance of £48, 5s. 3d.) amounted to £108, 8s. 6½d.


This flourishing society was established on April 28, 1814. It includes not only the Newcastle circuit, but also those of Gateshead, Durham, Shields, Sunderland, Hexham, Alston, Alnwick, and Berwick. Every district in this town and neighbourhood has a collector, who brings his box to the annual meeting at Brunswick Chapel, and then drinks tea with the ladies in the vestry. (fn. 4) There are also regular half-year visits made to each district. The total collections of this branch society, (fn. 5) for the year ending December 31, 1826, amounted to £1595, 14s. 3d.


This association was formed in 1825, at the suggestion and with the assistance of the Rev. Isaac Saunders and the Baron Von Bulow, for the purpose of diffusing religious knowledge over the continent of Europe. The subscriptions, donations, and sale of work, during the first year, amounted to £23, 15s. 6d.


This society was definitively organized in July, 1824, and is supported by donations and subscriptions of not less than 6d. per month. It is exclusively conducted by the members of the Established Church, although liberally supported by the Dissenters. According to the first report, there was collected to November, 1825, including remittances from North Shields, Warkworth, and Sunderland, £93, 4s. 9d. The collections are duly remitted to the parent society.


This society was established in 1822, chiefly through the exertions of Mr. G. F. Angas, Its objects are, to preach to seamen on board a vessel or otherwise, after notice given by hoisting the Bethel flag; to provide seamen with Bibles, &c.; to establish a religious library for their use; to form a Sabbath-school for ship and keel-boys; and to direct seamen, on their arrival, to respectable lodging-houses. The expenses of this society are defrayed by annual subscriptions and donations. A subscription of 4s. per annum constitutes a member. The average income exceeds £28 a year. Several Dissenting ministers, the Methodist preachers, and other pious individuals, co-operate in forwarding the objects of the Union.


This society was instituted in 1810, for the purpose of diffusing religious knowledge and the promotion of morality. (fn. 6) Those who subscribe 4s. a year are members, and each is entitled to receive for distribution, at cost price, religious tracts to the amount of his subscription. "Hawkers' Tracts" are sold at prime cost to persons who will undertake to dispose of them. These tracts are suited to the capacities of ignorant persons, and are intended "to drive foolish ballads, tales, and stories, out of circulation." The present officers of this society are, President, Mr. C, N. Wawn; Treasurer, Mr. John Fenwick; Secretaries, Rev. G. Sample and Mr. T. Brunting; Depository, Mr. James Finlay; Collector-general, Mr. J. Hume; and a committee of all the ministers who are members, with 12 laymen. By the fifteenth report, it appears that the collections, subscriptions, donations, and sale of Hawkers' Tracts, for the year ending January 26, 1826, amounted to £85, 7s. 4½d. and that a balance of £13, 14s. 2d. remained in the treasurer's hand. The parent society, since its commencement, has issued one hundred millions of tracts!

The Wesleyan Lending Tract Society, for the Newcastle Circuit, was established in 1823, and is supported by small subscriptions and donations. It is calculated that, in the first year, 320 distributors had lent weekly 9600 tracts, amounting, in 52 weeks, to nearly 500,000. This lending tract system is carried on at a very trifling expense; as the tracts, being carefully covered with cartridge paper, continue a long time fit for circulation. The distributors have also many opportunities to invite poor persons to attend their chapels, and the children to become scholars in their Sunday-schools.

The Tract Association of Friends commenced on October 15, 1812, and included in its plan the distribution of Bibles and Testaments, which, however, was relinquished on the formation of the Newcastle Bible Association. The tracts distributed are "chiefly such as have a tendency to elucidate and support the principles of Christianity as held by the body of Friends." Since the commencement of this association to February 4, 1827, the members have distributed 102,707 tracts. The expenses are paid by annual subscriptions.

The Unitarian Religious Tract Society was formed in 1813. It is supported by annual subscriptions of 4s. and upwards. Many of the tracts published by this society are in defence of the truth of Natural and Revealed Religion, and of the doctrines held by Unitarians. They have nearly completed four volumes of tracts.

The Catholic Religious Defence Society was established in Newcastle in the year 1825, "in order," as the members avow, "to stem the torrent of calumny, misrepresentation, and abuse, which is so lavishly poured forth by certain bodies of men, styling themselves 'Religious Tract Societies,' 'Continental Societies,' 'Irish Evangelical Societies,' 'Gospel Tract Societies,' &c. &c. against the Catholics of the United Kingdom, by means of circulating tracts, and by speeches at public meetings." Every subscriber of 4d. a month is a member, and receives a certain number of tracts or papers for gratuitous distribution. They consist chiefly of selections from the writings of the most celebrated authors of the Roman Catholic communion, shewing the real principles and practices of their religion.

There are occasional sermons preached, and collections made, for the support of Dr. Morrison's Anglo-Chinese College, the Hibernian Society, the Irish Missionary Society, &c. although no regular associations are formed for these objects. The Newcastle Presbytery of Scotch Presbyterians has just announced the formation of a Bible, Missionary, and School Society.


  • 1. A schism lately took place amongst the members of the British and Foreign Bible Society, in consequence of the parent society having passed a resolution, on April 9, 1825, authorising the circulation of the Apocryphal books; but which is now rescinded. During the warm dispute occasioned by this imprudent attempt, it came out that the salaries of the secretaries, agents, collectors, &c. including the travelling expenses of the secretaries, for forming, aiding, and visiting branch societies, amounted to about £8000 a year! On this subject, the committee of the Newcastle Bible Society observes in the last report, "From the comparison of the expenses of other similar institutions, it should seem that these have been rather below than above the average."
  • 2. This society has missionaries in the South Seas, China, Ultra-Ganges East Indies, Russia, Africa, the Mediterranean, and the West Indies. Its income for the year ending March 31, 1826, amounted to £34,002, 13s. 11d. There are 47 auxiliary societies and associations in connection with the parent society.
  • 3. The missionaries of this society, which was formed in 1792, have been peculiarly active in the East and West Indies. Dr. Carey has superintended the translation and printing of the New Testament in 34 lan guages, and the Old in 8; besides three varieties of the Hindostanee New Testament. Dr. Marshman has also translated and conducted through the press the Bible in Chinese. The schools are very numerous in the province of Bengal.
  • 4. A collector in one of the most obscure lanes in Sandgate, occupied chiefly by families in very indigent circumstances, raised upwards of £1, 15s. during the year ending November, 1826, and which was subscribed at one farthing or upwards a week. At a public meeting held in the New Road Chapel, one of the speakers very judiciously observed, that "the public will always be found ready and willing to give, provided they have been trained to it; and the more frequently a call is made on their philanthropy, so much the more cheerfully will they contribute their assistance."
  • 5. The income of the parent society, for the year 1825, amounted to £45,776. Above 100 missionaries are employed in various parts of the world, but chiefly in the West Indies.
  • 6. In 1811, a society was formed in Newcastle for the Suppression of Vice; but this self-constituted inquisition was not countenanced by a sensible magistracy, who are never remiss in punishing and restraining acts which really disturb the order and peace of society. The thinking part of the inhabitants were also convinced of the extreme absurdity of attempting to enlighten the mind, or to inculcate the benevolent precepts of the Gospel, by the infliction of pains and penalties; and they scouted the mock piety of those who would persecute the poor and helpless for trifling peccadilloes, while they either durst not or would not interfere with the much greater offences of the rich. The society was therefore soon dissolved.