Everett, James (DNB00)

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EVERETT, JAMES (1784–1872), miscellaneous writer, born in 1784 at Alnwick in Northumberland, was the second son of John Everett and his wife, Margaret Bowmaker. Everett's father died while he was of tender age, and the boy soon learned to help his mother. After a short time at a private school in Alnwick, he was apprenticed to a general dealer, where he was given to fun and practical jokes. In 1803 he underwent a great change, joined the Wesleyan society, and began to preach. He refused an offer made in 1804 to send him to Hoxton Academy to prepare for the ministry among the independents. At the end of his apprenticeship in 1804 he went to Sunderland, and there showed such preaching power that in December 1806 he was recommended for the regular ministry among the Wesleyans, and was duly accepted by the conference of the following year. His first circuits were Sunderland, Shields, and Belper in Derbyshire. He obtained a good knowledge of practical theology, and a wide acquaintance with general literature. In August 1810 he married Elizabeth Hutchinson of Sunderland. At an early period he formed the habit of taking careful notes of the celebrated characters whom he met, and thus preserved recollections of Robert Southey, poet laureate, James Montgomery, William Dawson [q. v.], and many others. In 1815 he was appointed to the Manchester circuit. On account of a serious throat affection in 1821, Everett gave up the regular ministry and became a bookseller, first in Sheffield, afterwards in Manchester. He had been collecting materials for the history of methodism in those towns, part of which he published. He was the intimate friend and became the biographer of Dr. Adam Clarke [q. v.] Everett preached occasional and special sermons while in business, and extended his popularity. In 1834 he resumed full ministerial work at Newcastle-on-Tyne, and thence moved to York in 1839. Through failure of health he was again made a supernumerary minister in 1842, but remained in York, and employed his pen more actively than ever.

The most important event in Everett's life was his expulsion from the Wesleyan conference in August 1849. For many years he had been opposed to the policy and working of that body, and had published anonymously several volumes of free criticism, such as ‘The Disputants’ in 1835, in which he argued against the scheme for starting a theological college for the training of ministers. He was the author of the chief part of ‘Wesleyan Takings,’ a work in two volumes, containing disparaging sketches of the preachers. In 1845 and following years certain clandestine pamphlets, called ‘Fly Sheets,’ were circulated widely, bearing neither printer's nor publisher's names. They contained serious charges against the leading men of the conference, reflecting both on their public actions and personal character. A general suspicion attributed the authorship of these pamphlets to Everett. He was brought before the conference and questioned respecting them, but declined to give any answer. After further inquiry and discussion he was formally expelled (see Minutes of the Methodist Conferences, xi. 276–82). Everett then took the lead in an agitation against the conference which shook the entire Wesleyan community, and resulted in the loss of over two hundred thousand members and adherents. Some of the seceders joined others who had previously left the ‘old body’ (so called), and formed a new sect, which they styled the ‘United Methodist Free Church.’ This was in 1857, and Everett was elected the first president of their assembly, which met at Rochdale in July of that year. To the end of his life Everett remained a minister of this community, filling their pulpits as health and opportunity permitted. He lived for some years in Newcastle, and finally in Sunderland. He wrote many articles for magazines and printed a few poems. In July 1865 his wife died, leaving no children. Everett had formed a large collection of methodist literature, both printed and in manuscript. These he disposed of to the Rev. Luke Tyerman, the biographer of Wesley. His library was bought after his death for the theological institute of the methodist free church. He died at Sunderland on Friday, 10 May 1872.

His works are: 1. ‘History of Methodism in Sheffield and its vicinity,’ vol. i. 1823. 2. ‘History of Methodism in Manchester and its vicinity,’ pt. i. 1827. 3. ‘The Village Blacksmith: Memoirs of S. Hick,’ 1831. 4. ‘Edwin, or Northumbria's Royal Fugitive Restored,’ a metrical tale of Saxon times, 1831. 5. ‘The Polemic Divine: Memoirs of Rev. D. Isaac,’ 1839. 6. ‘Memoirs of William Dawson,’ 1842. 7. ‘Correspondence of William Dawson,’ 1842. 8. ‘Adam Clarke Portrayed,’ 3 vols. 1843–9. 9. ‘The Wallsend Miner: Life of W. Crister,’ 2nd ed. 1851. 10. ‘The Camp and the Sanctuary,’ 1859. 11. ‘Gatherings from the Pit Heaps, or the Allens of Shiney Row,’ 1861. 12. ‘The Midshipman and the Minister: Sketch of the Rev. A. A. Rees, circa 1861.’ Everett was co-editor with John Holland of ‘Memoirs of the Life and Writings of James Montgomery,’ 7 vols. 1854–6.

[Chew's James Everett: a Biography, 1875; Minutes of the Wesleyan Conferences; Osborn's Outlines of Wesleyan Bibliography, 1869.]

W. B. L.