The Journals of William Clowes

Another new local book found, The Journals of William Clowes (1844). He was born in Burslem in 1780, and came of age and was married in 1800. Among the accounts of prayer meetings and verbose ‘tremblings before god’, there are some insights into local lore and difficulties of travel. For instance, it seems inconceivable today that it would be any difficulty to get from Tunstall to Kidgrove, and yet in the winters of the early decades of the 19th century it could be a wild boggart-haunted road…


It was about this period also that Mr. W. E. Miller, the travelling preacher in the circuit, strongly pressed me to lead a class at Kidsgrove, to which I consented. This place, at which there is a large colliery [coal mine], is distant about two miles from [my home in] Tunstall; and to attend every week, and especially in the winter season, when the nights were cold and stormy, was not a very easy matter.

In a lonely part of the road leading to Kidsgrove, which is skirted by a wood, there wandered a ghost, as tradition and common report asserted. It was called the “Kidsgrove bogget”. On my first induction into office as the Kidsgrove class-leader, I confess, when passing the haunted domains of this “Kidsgrove bogget”, that I occasionally felt a little fear creeping on me; but, unlike the school-boy with his satchel on his back in crossing the church-yard, “Whistling aloud to keep his courage up”, I endeavoured to pray away those fears […] Very frequently my Tunstall friends would accompany me; and on these occasions we used to make the lonely lane to ring with shouts of glory, and singing the praises of God.

The class-meeting at Kidsgrove rose into great vigour and usefulness in a short time, and many of the roughest colliers [miners] were brought to God. At one period several of these came into the house where we were holding the class-meeting, some of whom were half drunk, and the house was crowded with people. I hardly knew what course to adopt; at last I came to the resolution to address both saint and sinner, and to give an exhortation […] I then began personally to address the ungodly [drunkard ruffians] some of them were struck with such terror and alarm that they jumped up and rushed out of the house, and they confessed afterwards that they thought they should have fallen into hell if they had remained any longer in the house, and they should take care not to go to William Clowes’s class again. [But] One ruffian was so wrought on that he fell like an ox, and laid quietly under the form [of address] till the meeting closed. The meeting being thus tolerably cleared, a mighty shout of glory went through the house.

This blog as an ebook

There’s a new page on this blog, “Blog-to-ebook”, being a handy way to read the best of this blog as a 55,000 word ebook. Articles and posts are linked, and are collected by theme or location.

… etc. If I were to one day format it for print, I’d add various other articles of local interest, which have appeared elsewhere. Many would also be polished and expanded.

More Garnering

From Boston, Michael Grasso at We Are The Mutants reviews Alan Garner’s The Voice That Thunders. Garner being the local fantasy writer of Alderley Edge, just a bit north from here and over the border from North Staffordshire. And his book being one I was unaware of, a collection of…

“sixteen essays, prepared lectures, and newspaper columns that return to the mythic themes that Garner’s more than half-century of novels explore”

It was issued back in 1997, and has been available in Kindle since 2014. The review adds…

“The collection is in effect an expressionistic autobiography”

Interesting. I dug out the contents list…

As such it seems like a shelf companion to Garner’s recent autobiography of his childhood, Where Shall We Run To, also available in Kindle ebook form.