Wearmouth, Dr Robert Featherstone
1882-1963; e.m. 1909

PM minister and historian, born into a mining family at Oxhill, Co. Durham on 10 June 1882. He went down the pit at 12, then into the Army, where he served in the West Indies and South Africa and obtained a commission. Converted during a Christian Endeavour mission, he was influenced and encouraged by John Clennell (1878-1962; e.m. 1905). After another period as a miner he was accepted for the PM ministry and trained at Hartley College. As an army chaplain in World War I he went through the Battle of the Somme, writing of it later in Pages from a Padre's Diary (1958).

During his circuit ministry he obtained a BA and MA at Birmingham and a BSc and PhD at London. His series of pioneering studies of Methodism's social and political influence began with Methodism and the Working Class Movements in England, 1800-1850 (1937), based on his doctoral thesis, was continued by Methodism and the Struggle of the Working Classes 1850-1900 (1954) and The Social and Political Influence of Methodism in the Twentieth Century (1957),and was summed up in his Wesley Historical Society Lecture Methodism and the Trade Unions (1959). He meticulously documented the extent to which the working classes learned the arts of public speaking, organization and leadership through their involvement in local Methodism. In retirement at Cullercoats he became an extramural lecturer for Durham University. He died on 28 March 1963.

See also Trade Unionism.

  • Ralph Lowery, Robert Wearmouth of Oxhill (Newcastle upon Tyne, 1982)
  • J. Munsey Turner, 'Robert Featherstone Wearmouth, Methodist Historian' in WHS Proceedings, 43 pp.111-16
  • J.H. Thompson, 'R.F. Wearmouth, Army Chaplain', in WHS Proceedings, 50 pp.19-20
  • Oxford DNB