High Calvinists in Action: Calvinism and the City, Manchester and London, c. 1810-1860

By Ian J. Shaw | Go to book overview

6 William McKerrow (1803-1878)

Do we cease to be men because we are citizens; to be citizens because we are Christian ministers? 1


Introduction

Study of the interaction between people, places, and theology in early nineteenth-century Manchester has so far indicated the significant, but not always dominant, influence of doctrine on the ministry of high Calvinists and the reception of their work by their adherents. Consideration of the work of an evangelical Calvinist ministering in the same context will further demonstrate the relative influence of theological perspective upon response to the urban environment. To accomplish this, attention is now turned to the work of a third Manchester minister, William McKerrow.

When, in 1827, the congregation of the Lloyd Street Secession Church in Manchester sought an assistant and ultimate successor to the ageing and highly respected Robert Jack, their minister since 1801, William McKerrow, fresh from the denomination's divinity hall, was chosen. Dr Jack had gathered an 'important, prosperous and peaceful congregation', but his new colleague, definitively moulded by a background in fervent evangelical Presbyterian Dissent and Scottish radicalism, proved something of a 'firebrand'. W. R. Ward has characterized McKerrow as 'the most distinguished of a vitriolic brood'. 2 Certainly he proceeded actively to support most of the radical and advanced Liberal causes of his day, yet he remained zealous and committed in his pastoral charge. He retained a strong grasp on the evangelical Calvinism of the Secession

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