Dove family

Leeds WM, originated in Darlington, Co. Durham where Christopher (1783-1854) and William (1792-1855), sons of Christopher (1745-1816) and Jane (1758-1835) Dove, followed their father’s occupation of currier. Despite parental discouragement the younger Christopher became a WM in 1808, and the family gradually followed suit.

Christopher and William married and raised their families in Darlington before moving to Leeds in 1829, establishing a successful partnership in the town’s leather trade. Christopher settled in the superior neighbourhood of Park Square, while William was councillor for the West Ward from 1837-43; both brothers were Tories. Both were also active in Leeds Methodism, serving as Trustees and Class leaders. Christopher’s arrival helped to stabilise the Second Leeds Circuit after the dissension over the Leeds organ case, and he played an important role in the building of the new Oxford Place chapel.

Christopher Dove married twice. Through his first wife, Mary Steele (died 1815), he was connected to the Steeles of Barnard Castle; Steele, Anthony (1793-1861), historian of WM in Barnard Castle and the Dales, was his brother-in-law. His second wife, Mary Dunn(1790-1858), was aunt of Mary Cryer (née Burton), subject of a missionary memoir by Barrett, Alfred. In the next generation Christopher junior (1820-36) was memorialised by Peter M’Owan; Elizabeth (1821-47) and Jane (1832-1917) married the WM ministers John Holt Lord (1820-1902; e.m. 1840) and Henry R. Burton (1831-1903; e.m. 1855) respectively; Sarah (1823-89) married John Sloggett Jenkins (died 1900), who was Second Master at Woodhouse Grove School from 1852-55. William (1827-56) who married Jenkins’ sister Harriet in 1852, gained national notoriety when she died of strychnine poisoning in March 1856. William was tried for her murder at York Assizes, and despite mitigating evidence of alcoholism and mental instability, he was executed on 9 August 1856.

On the other side of the family, William senior’s son Christopher Wesley Dove (1825-95) owned a Leeds carpet manufacturing business, which subsequently passed to his brother Edward Parker Dove (1834-1904), a trustee of Headingley Wesleyan Chapel.

A third Dove brother, John (1794-1855) became an attorney in Leeds, and published A Biographical History of the Wesley Family: more particularly its earlier branches, which ran through several editions between 1833 and 1840.


‘He was plain in dress; simple and courteous in manners; guarded in discourse; and strictly economical in the use of his time. He loved his children with a most devoted affection. When at home, he was ingenious in devising means for the increase of their happiness, and the improvement of their minds: when at a distance his letters abounded with loving recollections, wise counsels, and earnest breathings for their present and everlasting salvation.’

‘The institutions, doctrine, and discipline which were so plainly owned of God, he regarded as a living embodiment of primitive Christianity; and, as such, they commanded his esteem, gratitude, and support. … The Connexional principle he held to be in harmony with New-Testament precedents, and with the genius of our holy religion; recognising, as he gladly did, the duty and the privilege of church-members, and that on the widest scale, to comfort and aid one another, as aid requires. Whatever affected the character and usefulness of the Body, or of its Ministers, at home or abroad, excited his sympathies and prayers.’

‘[H]e specially rejoiced in the doctrine of entire sanctification, when proclaimed in its scriptural connexion with the atonement of Christ, the agency of the Holy Spirit, and the precepts of the law.’

Peter M’Owan, ‘Memoir of Mr Christopher Dove, of Leeds’, WMM November 1856, pp. 970-72

  • Sylvia M Barnard, To Prove I’m not Forgot: living and dying in a Victorian city (Manchester, 1990)
  • Peter M’Owan, Memoir of Christopher Dove, junior, of Leeds (Leeds, 1837)
  • Methodist/Wesleyan Methodist Magazine 1816, pp.531-35; 1839, p. 158; 1855, p. 967; 1856, pp. 966-77

Entry written by: DCD
Category: Person
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