fonds JPAR - Records of Reverend James Parsons

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Records of Reverend James Parsons


  • 1816-[1920] (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

0.02 cubic metres

1 box

Context area

Name of creator


Biographical history

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.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

The archive was gifted to the Borthwick Institute in 2009.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Correspondence, papers, press cuttings and photographs relating to Reverend James Parsons, 1816-[1920].

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.


Further accruals are not expected.

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Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Records are open to the public, subject to the overriding provisions of relevant legislation, including data protection laws. 24 hours' notice is required to access photographic material.

Conditions governing reproduction

A reprographics service is available to researchers subject to the access restrictions outlined above. Copying will not be undertaken if there is any risk of damage to the document. Copies are supplied in accordance with the Borthwick Institute for Archives' terms and conditions for the supply of copies, and under provisions of any relevant copyright legislation. Permission to reproduce images of documents in the custody of the Borthwick Institute must be sought.

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Finding aids

The archive has not yet been catalogued.

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related units of description

Records of Salem and New Lendal Congregationalist churches are also deposited at the Borthwick Institute. These include engravings, correspondence and other papers relating to James Parsons.

A copy of 'Sermons by James Parsons, York' (London, 1830) is available at York Minister Library Special Collections.

A copy of 'Services at the ordination of the Reverend James Parsons to the pastoral charge of the church and congregation assembling in Lendal Chapel, York, October 24th 1822' (1824) is available at York Explore Local History Reserve.

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Rules and/or conventions used

ISAD (G): General International Standard Archival Description, International Council on Archives (2nd edition, 2000); Rules for the construction of personal, place and corporate names, National Council on Archives (1997).

Level of detail

Dates of creation revision deletion

Created by S. A. Shearn, 18.10.16.




Accession area