Burton family, of Middleton, Lancs

Daniel Burton, of Rhodes Hall, Middleton, was the founder of a substantial calico-printing business and was also a prominent Wesleyan Methodist. He and his wife Esther had five sons. Two, James Daniel Burton and Charles Burton, entered the Wesleyan itinerancy; a third, George Burton, became a local preacher.

James Daniel Burton (1784-1817; e.m. 1805)) was born on 25 July 1784 and was baptized by John Wesley himself. After a period of youthful reaction against the family piety in 1801 an 'awful Providence' in the form of an encounter with the corpse of someone suddenly deceased led him to become seriously religious. He became a sick visitor and a local preacher and entered the itinerancy in 1805, serving, inter alia, in the Sheffield Circuit with Jabez Bunting (a close family friend) and Edmund Grindrod in 1808-1809 His preaching was down-to-earth and practical, rather than doctrinal, and his ministry, despite the affluence of his upbringing, was marked by sympathy with the poor. He was also a firm upholder of Methodist discipline at a time when it was being tested. He wrote A Guide for Youth, recommending … vital piety as the only rational way to present happiness and future glory (1814). After three years of poor health, he died on 24 March 1817.

His brother Charles Burton (1793-1866; e.m. 1810) was received into full connexion in 1814, but 'voluntarily left the work' in 1815 and joined the Church of England, being ordained deacon in 1816 and priest in 1817.

A fourth son, John Burton (a name which recurs in the lists of members of Connexional committees in the Minutes) was the father of John Daniel Burton, banker, and one of the secretaries of the General Centenary sub-committee in 1839, member of the Committee of Privileges for many years, local treasurer for the Didsbury branch of the Theological Institution etc. Two of J.D. Burton's sons, John James Burton (1849-1927) and Arthur Daniel Burton (1852-1933), were educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, and became Anglican clergymen.

A daughter of Daniel and Esther, Mary Burton, married the Methodist businessman, James Wood, who was also a local preacher. She was 'for many years a pattern of Christian excellence to ladies in superior station'.

  • Methodist Magazine, 1817 pp.708-9, 881-91
  • Oxford DNB

Entry written by: MW
Category: Person
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