Banks, Dr John Shaw
1835-1917; e.m. 1856

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Theologian and pioneer missionary in the Mysore District of India, he was born in Sheffield on 8 October 1835, the son of Matthew Banks (1798-1878; e.m. 1826), a missionary in the West Indies. He served in India 1856-65. From 1880-1910 he held the Chair of Systematic Theology at Headingley College. He was described by one acquaintance as '"pawky", shrewd, marvellously well-read, and as effective on the platform of the Leeds town hall as in the Headingley classroom'. His Manual of Christian Doctrine (1887) went through many editions and among his other publications were the Fernley Lecture of 1880 on Christianity and the Science of Religion and translations of German theological works. He was President of the Conference in 1902 and received a DD from Edinburgh the following year. He died in Headingley, Leeds, on 17 March 1917 and was buried in Lawnswood cemetery.


'He was a man of massive learning, one who wrestled not merely with a few books, but with libraries. He was seemingly a recluse, but he soon proved himself a man of affairs, and for many years was Chairman of the Leeds District, which office he administered with great diligence and success… He was in in external appearance shaggy and uncouth, and in speech a man of most awkward gestures. But such was his moral passion that, when he spoke at some great meeting in Leeds - for he was a leading citizen - his words were as hammer blows. The sheer sincerity of his character, his great intellectual power, and the earnestness of his zeal, gave prophetic force to his words.'

W. Bardsley Brash, The Story of our Colleges (1935), p.85

  • Methodist Recorder, 22 March 1917