Monday, February 23, 2009

1859: The Year of Revival

While some may be recalling 1859 for the installation of Big Ben in the Houses of Parliament, and the publication of The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin, here in Ulster, we recall with gladness the Revival that swept the province. For many years, I've had a copy of the book written by the Rev Dr Ian Paisley on the subject, The "Fifty Nine Revival", and so in this 150th anniversary year, I thought I should get around to eventually read it. Particularly since the Northern Ireland Assembly may be holding events to mark the occasion.

Starting from a prayer meeting of four converts in the Old Schoolhouse in Kells and Connor, County Antrim, it rapidly spread across the country, affecting over 100,000 people. God's grace and mercy were richly poured out on this land, and the Holy Spirit was mighty in operation. Over the coming days I'll post some quotations from the book, highlighting stories from local places, as well as lessons to learn.

1 comment :

  1. I first heard of the 1859 British Revival tonight, while reading an article about missionary activity in China. I am curious to know what you have to say about it, because my wife's forebears in the UK seem to have been affected by it. Her great-grandparents, you see, were Wesleyan Methodists by the early 1900s, having met in "chapel". Most likely, they were not raised in that persuasion: The paternal great-grandfather was a Baptist from Suffolk; and the paternal great-grandmother was the daughter of a Birmingham gunmaker's son and the teen heiress of a German sugar refiner of London. The gunmaker's son had been sent to London as a young man to learn the hatter's trade; but upon marriage to the refiner's orphaned daughter, he went into partnership with an employee of her father's firm, establishing a refinery in Dublin. This went bust after the partner died in the year of a cholera epidemic, and the family returned to London. There, the daughter of the family met and married the man from Suffolk, who had gone to London to learn the umbrella-maker's trade from his uncle. The whole family found employment through Waterlow and Sons Stationers, who also had befriended the partner's family of the failed sugar-refining business.

    The name of the sugar refinery in Dublin was Jaggers & Ferreday. My wife's family has a tradition, handed down by her grandfather, that Jaggers was the villian in the partnership. I have recently been in contact with a Dr. John Jaggers, however, a descendant of the partner, who reports that his family has held rather the opposite tradition. We had an enjoyable time exchanging notes with one another. Regardless of who was at fault in the collapse of the business, both families seem to have fallen upon hard times because of it, and seem to owe much to the Waterlows for their recovery.

    I was wondering if the Waterlows were somehow involved in the revival, and would like to know the extent of it in the East End of London where the family settled. I also wonder about the Irish connection: The family was certainly in Dublin in 1850, some nine years before the revival.

    Please email me at, if you can inform me on these matters.

    Thank you in advance, for your time and attention.


    Michael Shoemaker
    Eugene, Oregon, USA

    P.S. Speaking of revivals, my wife and I both participated in the "Jesus Movement" revival in the US in the early 1970s. I would be glad to exchange notes about those times with whoever is interested. Our daughter lives in China, where she married and is raising a family. Our son returned from study in China three years ago, and now lives near us in Oregon.