Hannah, John (1792-1867) (DNB00)

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HANNAH, JOHN, D.D., the elder (1792–1867), Wesleyan methodist minister, born at Lincoln on 3 Nov. 1792, was the third son of a small coal-dealer. His parents were Wesleyan methodists, then a very humble community, in Lincoln. He received his early education from various local teachers, but chiefly from the Rev. W. Gray, a senior vicar of the cathedral. He obtained a respectable knowledge of the classics, and studied French, mathematics, and Hebrew with enthusiasm and success. From his earliest years his thirst for knowledge was insatiable, and his powers of acquisition remarkable. In the intervals of his studies he helped his father in his trade. At an early age Hannah became a Wesleyan preacher in the villages about Lincoln, preaching his first sermon at Waddington. The warm interest he felt through life in foreign missions was awakened early, and when in 1813 Dr. Thomas Coke [q. v.] was about to start with seven young men for India, on the voyage on which he died, Hannah accepted an offer to fill a vacancy which was anticipated, but did not occur. In 1814 Hannah was received into the Wesleyan ministry, and was speedily recognised as a preacher of unusual eloquence and ability. When only in his thirty-second year (1824) he was sent out to America in company with the representative of the Wesleyan conference of Great Britain to the general conference of the methodist body in the United States. On his return from America he was in 1834 appointed theological tutor of the institution for training candidates for the ministry, in the establishment of which he had taken an important part. This post he filled with signal success, first at Hoxton and afterwards at Stoke Newington. From 1840 to 1842 and from 1854 to 1858 he was secretary, and in 1842 and again in 1851 president of the Wesleyan conference. In 1843 he was appointed to the theological tutorship of the northern branch of the institution for training ministers at Didsbury in Yorkshire, which he held till within a few months of his death. His lectures were characterised by freshness and vigour; they were models of exact thought, delivered with an enthusiasm which awoke an answering enthusiasm in his pupils. In 1856 he crossed the Atlantic a second time, accompanied by Dr. Jobson, as the representative of English methodism to methodists of the United States. For many years before his death he was chairman of the district of the methodist connexion of which Manchester is the centre. His calm judgment brought many threatened disputes to a happy conclusion. He died at Didsbury on Sunday, 29 Dec. 1867, shortly after resigning his tutorship. In 1817 he married Miss Jane Capavor, by whom he had eight children, of whom only one survived him, John Hannah [q. v.], vicar of Brighton.

Hannah was an impressive preacher and a ready public speaker. Though no latitudinarian, and clinging tenaciously to the doctrines and practices of methodism, he was devoid of bigotry or narrowness, and, while regarded with filial love by the whole methodist body, enjoyed friendly relations with the church of England.

Hannah published, besides some memorial sermons and short tracts, 1. 'Memoirs of the Rev. D. Stowe,' 1828. 2. 'Memoirs of the Rev. T. Lessey,' 1842. 3. 'Documents relating to the Dissolution of the Union between the British and Canadian Conferences; with an Appendix,' 1841. 4. 'Ministerial Training an Inaugural Address at Didsbury,' 1860. 5. 'Infant Baptism scriptural, and Immersion unnecessary; with an Appendix on Re-baptising,' 1866. 6. 'Introductory Lectures on the Study of Christian Theology,' London, no date.

[Methodist Magazine, 1867; Memoirs by the Rev. W. B. Pope.]

E. V.