- 1816- (Creation)
Level of description
Extent and medium
0.02 cubic metres
Name of creator
James Parsons was born in Leeds on 10 April 1799, the son of Edward Parsons, Congregational minister of Salem Chapel, Leeds, and a founder of the London Missionary Society, and his wife Margaret, née Hamilton. He was educated by Reverend William Foster of Little Woodhouse, alongside Matthew Talbot Baines and Edward Baines (later Liberal MP for Leeds and a lifelong friend).
In 1814 was he was articled to Tottie, Richardson and Gaunt, the Leeds solicitors firm of his brother in law, James Richardson. He worked for them both in Leeds and later in London.
Following the death of his mother in 1820, he gave up his legal career to become a Congregational minister. He studied theology at the Academy for the Training of Independent Ministers at Idle, later known as Airedale Independent College.
He was ordained in York on 24 October 1822 and became minister to the city's Lendal Chapel. His sermons became extremely popular and in 1839 the new and larger Salem Chapel was opened to accommodate him. During his ministry in York he published two books, 'Excitements to Exertion in the Cause of God' in 1827 and 'Sermons, Critical and Explanatory' in 1830, and many of his sermons were published in 'The Pulpit' between 1824 and 1864.
In 1828 Parsons married Mary M. Wilks, the daughter of John Wilks, a London attorney and MP for Boston in Lincolnshire. The couple had one son, James, who died young, and four daughters; Mary, Margaret, Emma and Selina. A well respected local figure, Parsons had a wide circle of friends which included Baines and George Leeman, lawyer and Liberal MP for York.
In 1870 Reverend Parsons retired to Harrogate. Three years later he was elected the first president of the Yorkshire Congregational Union and Home Missionary Society.
He died at Harrogate on 20 October 1877.
Immediate source of acquisition or transfer
Content and structure area
Scope and content
Correspondence, papers, press cuttings and photographs relating to Reverend James Parsons, 1816-.
Correspondents include Edward Baines; George Hadfield; James Hamilton; William Hargrove; George Leeman; John Morley; Margaret Parsons, née Hamilton; Mary Parsons, née Wilkes; George Trevor; and John Wilkes.