This study of four high Calvinists in Manchester and London in the period c.1810-60 has highlighted the need for a re-examination of the image of the isolated scholastic high Calvinist, hidebound by doctrine, unable to engage with the world around, and occupying a marginal position in Church and social life. Far from high Calvinism being the last-ditch conservative defence of the poorest of a denomination, 1 the resort of the uneducated, unsophisticated margins of society, it was a more widespread and complicated phenomenon, claiming significant followings in most major towns. It found adherents in a variety of denominations, notably among Anglicans, Baptists, and Independents. High Calvinism was certainly attractive to the poor, but this is surely to its credit, in the face of the evidence of religious alienation among sections of the urban working class, especially the poorest. It could also attract university-educated men, well-qualified professionals, and highly successful businessmen. Even among the poorest, there could be a high degree of biblical literacy and theological awareness, even if it was confined to a rather limited range of issues. Historians have accepted the need for a more nuanced approach to the work of the nineteenth-century churches in the city, noting strengths as well as weaknesses. 2 In that more nuanced perspective the successes and failures of the high Calvinists must take a place.
Making broad generalizations as to the response of high Calvinists to the city is difficult. They were not a homogeneous group; common theology did produce common tendencies, but with notable variations. The biographical approach taken in this book has been necessary to demonstrate this adequately. Variations in individual attitude and method were conditioned by factors including personal upbringing, church tradition, and the influence of the wider historical context. The role of place has been shown to be most important in dictating patterns of activity. Personal acquaintance with acute urban problems appears to have strongly influenced practical outcomes. The Manchester-London antithesis has