Crabb, James

He was born on 13 April 1774, the son of a Wilton clothier and apprenticed to a Salisbury shoemaker. Converted at 19, he preached his first sermon in a chalkpit at Coombe. Accepted by the Conference of 1794, he was stationed in the Portsmouth Circuit and then, in 1796, at Salisbury. As an itinerant he faced poverty, hunger and severe weather conditions. Poor health and depression caused him to retire in 1797 to Wilton, where he preached in a hired room, gathered a society and built the first chapel. He eventually settled in Romsey and opened a school. He became a champion of gypsy rights in that part of the south. In 1822 his offer to start a WM mission in Southampton did not meet with official support, so he went ahead independently with a seamen's mission and welcomed and encouraged the PMs when they began work in the town. One of his converts, Elizabeth Wallbridge, became well known through Legh Richmond's account of her as 'the dairyman's daughter'.

He died on 17 September 1851.


'It was very wet and dirty all the way, and I was soon wet through. My boots and umbrella being almost won out, made it disagreeable to flesh and blood, Though it was but a little way from Yarmouth to Freshwater, yet with the wind, rain, dirt and want of food I was so worn out with weakness, that I was obliged to rest by leaning against a gate. I searched along the almost barren hedges for provision and when I could find any it was very acceptable.'

James Crabb on the Isle of Wight, quoted by Rudall, p 50

  • John Rudall, A Memoir of the Rev. James Crabb, late of Southampton (1854)
  • 'The Rev. James Crabb and the Welfare of Gypsies in Hampshire and Dorset', in The Hatcher Review (King Alfred's College, Winchester) No.43, Spring 1997

Entry written by: JAV
Category: Person
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