52 residents #50 James Barton Turner

One of the longest serving ministers in Sion, James Barton Turner led the church from 1901 to 1929. As a member of the church in the 1980s I recall several of the older members fondly referring to him 50 years later. Indeed he became the standard against whom all future ministers were judged for many years, probably a little unfairly. He was always referred to as the Rev Barton Turner and styled himself James Barton Turner A.T.S. The meaning of the post nominals is unknown.

His ministry wasn't unbroken however, with him resigning his pastorate in 1908 to explore missionary work in India. In the event he stayed at Sion.

He died in1963 aged 90 according to his gravestone. That would have him born 1873 ish. The 1911 census says b USA, British citizen by parentage. It appears from the 1881 census (in which the family were in Heap, Bury) that they travelled to the US sometime between 1871 and 1873 and returned sometime between 1876 and 1879. Mmm, interesting.

He certainly travelled between the UK and USA, sailing from Liverpool to New York on the Baltic (2nd class) on 27th May 1922 i.e.whilst still in post at Sion. He gave his country of intended future residence as 'USA', which it obviously wasn't. His address at that time was 'The Cross, Cloughfold'. An appropriate address for a Baptist Minister.

He was forced to deny saying, in 1916 , that 'it didn't much matter whether we were ruled by King or Kaiser', sharing a disdain for the press in the process. He did however chair a meeting of the 'Peace by Negotiation Movement in 1917. He was also active in the Band of Hope.

He appears to have stood for parliament in the 1923 election for Royton, just north of Oldham and a good 20 miles away from Springhill. He stood for Labour and came last by a good 10,000 votes, polling 2,740. Wonder what the congregation thought about that.


Royton election 1923 600

He also translated an Aramaic grammar, 'Manual of the Aramaic Language of the Palestinian Talmud'.
The frontispiece reads :
'Formerly student of Semitic languages in the University of Manchester
Late examiner of Hebrew and Greek in the Baptist College, Manchester.'

Wonder what the congregation thought about that, and whether he found life in Cloughfold a little intellectually dull.

Sources:
Census 1881 RG11/3854/16/26
Census 1911 RG14/24713/471
Passenger lists leaving UK ticket no 2170301 1922
Passenger lists leaving UK 1906
Burnley Gazette 14 Nov 1908 (missionary)
Burnley Express 12 April 1916 (Band of Hope)
Burnley Express 15 April 1916, Burnley News 15 April 1915 (King or Kaiser)
Lancashire Evening Post 25 Jan 1917 (peace by negotiation)
Burnley Express 24 August 1929 (resignation of pastorate)