To Alice Barlow

3 May 1875


[Ms in Finney Papers, 2/2/2, in the handwriting of Rebecca Finney.]


Finney received the following letter from Alice Barlow:



near Bolton.

April 15 [1875]

My dear Sir

Whenever my mind

is exercised in reference

to good things my thoughts

turn to you, and many

attempts have been made

to write to you.

In your last letter you

were right in your con-

clusions in reference

to my Christian experience.

I have not gone into open

sin - or folly - but I have

[page 2]

been too busy- have allowed

the care of family and

home to absorb all attention.

Three years ago I was laid

asside and have been

more or less an invalid

since having to spend

the winters away from

home&endash; I have in a way

always been seeking after

a better state of things, but

I fear that I have not con-

cern enough&endash; About last

Christmas- all our servants

were converted through

the influence of our Coachman

who is a godly man - and

[page 3]

he had been trying to get

the others interested in

the reports of the good

that was being done

in connection with the

services of Messrs Moody

& Sankey &endash; I am often

very much depressed because

I dont seem able to

strive after good things

My good purposes are

so short lived - &endash;

Will you please excuse me

saying so much about


We hear about you

sometimes through Mrs

[page 4]

Hill &endash; Our eldstst eldest

son Thomas whom you

will I daresay remember

knows Mrs Hill. You

will be sorry to know that

Miss Catharine Hill is

very poorly.

Mr & Mrs Best are both

pretty much as when you

were in Bolton &endash; Mr Davidson

has removed to the neigh-

bourhood of London.

You will remember Mrs

Bell, she is very delicate

and is living in the Isle

of Man &endash; You will th

[page 5]


near Bolton.


know that Mr Bell has

been dead between three &

four years &endash; and her eldest

son has had to go out

to Africa on account of

his health &endash; so that she

has had many sorrows.

Do you remember the first

convert in Bolton when

you were with us-

It was Miss Howarth

a young lady who came

up to our house either

on the first Sunday or

[page 6]

on the Monday &endash; She is

greatly afflicted and

has been confined to

bed for many years,

She is however greatly

supported and is enabled

to do much good to

both her family and many

who visit her.

Very many who used

to meet in the Temperance

Hall of one heart and mind

have been removed, others

are doing good work in

various ways&endash; sometimes

we meet with people quite

[page 7]

unexpectedly who got good

there. We hear that

you have given up your

pastorate. I hope the

rest will enable you

to do much good work

yet in other ways.

Will you present my

kind regards to Mrs Finney

of whom I heard from

Miss Catharine Hill.

We are living much in

the same way as when

you were with us-

Our children are all

loving and obedient.

Our eldest son is a

[page 8]

physician in London &

is in connection with

the Great Ormond Street

Children's Hospital.

I enclose Mr Barlows and

our two sons photographs.

Our girls are still busy

with their education.

Our Annie Elizabeth Finney

is a bright intelligent girl

of eleven - she is the youngest

I must now ask you to

forgive my seeming careless-

ness for your kind interest

in me &endash; I feel that I have

lost what I can never

regain &endash; but will you

[page 9]


near Bolton.


let me have an interest

in your prayers, and

believe me to be with

sincere affection

Alice Barlow


Finney replied as follows:


Oberlin May 3d 1875.

Mrs. Alice Barlow,

My Dear Sister, Your most

welcome letter, of Apr. 15th is just rec'd.

Thank you many times for it, and the

Photographs it contained. I have

never ceased to desire much to hear

from you, by your own hand.

In looking back, I think I can

well enough account for your

spiritual state. When I first

knew you, you had just rec'd

your new carriage, and had

become a lady that kept her

carriage. A great step upwards,

in England. I rode with you, the


first time that ^ went to meeting in

it. Your new carriage attracted

the attention of your friends. Since

then, your family, has been rapidly ri-

[page 2]

sing in the estimation of the public.

Your husband has been at least twice

Mayor of the city. When I was there, he

was just about building Greenthorne

and getting up your establishment

there. Taken all in all, you have had

a constant appeal made, to your

worldly ambition, and desire of

family elevation. I do not say this,

because I think you more ambitious

or anxious for family elevation than other

women, but there has been much, very

much, all things considered, to engross

your attention, and stimulate a

worldly ambition. The Spirit of God

is very sensitive upon these points.

If you had before, been in a spiritual

frame of mind, as your husband was,

your rapid rise in the world, would not

perhaps have done you an injury, but

as it was, and is, your thoughts have been

so stimulated, with your worldly cares, re-

lations, & rapid rising, that spiritually,

[page 3]

you have been kept down. My Dear

Sister, I cannot tell you how my

heart yearns to have you get out

of this bondage. I have hoped that you

would fall under the influence of the great

revival under Moody & Sankey.

I should not have recognized your husband,

in the picture you sent me, nor either of

your sons. Thomas is a thinker, and was so,

very much, when I was there. I presume

he will make a good physician.

Of what school of medicine is he? And what

is John? Have you added Bp to his name

on the back of his card? Is he a Bishop?

I am sorry to hear that you are in poor

health. Where do you spend your winters?

Dear Mrs. Bell! I do not recollect to have

heard that her husband was dead. If

you ever correspond with her please give

my love to her, and ask her to write

to me, that I may hear directly from

her, particularly of her religious state.

A word more concerning your religious

[page 4]

state. How much has your health

to do, with the state of your mind?

In what did the failure of your health

originate? Was it not connected with that

change through which all women pass, at

about your age? Unbelief was always your

easily besetting sin. You did not seem to

realize that God loves you. That He

has loved you, with an everlasting love, you

are bound to assume as a fact as unquestionable

as the existence of God. This you must know

to be true, & why will you not assume it, in

all your thoughts of God, and of yourself?

He loves you indefinitely more, than the

aggregate love of all creatures for you.

Why not let this fact, take possession of

your heart, and cause you to respond to Him

as you do to your husband, and your friends.

You respond to every inviting look &

act of your husband, as quick as light.

You have a most responsive nature to the

manifested affection of your friends, your

children, and every human being that loves you.

How is it, My Dear Sister, that you cannot

[page 5]

be as thoroughly & quickly responsive

to the manifested love of Christ?

The love of all mere creatures, for

you, is as nothing, compared to the

love of God. I want to ask

you a multitude of questions,

& so great is my desire

to see you & your family,

& multitudes of other friends

in England that I am some-

times almost tempted to try

to make the journey.

Yes, I

resigned my pastorate, at about

the age of eighty. My strength

is much less, than when I was

with you, though I think my

health is quite as good.

I write some for the press,

and continue my teaching

[page 6]

in the Theological Dep't

of our college. I preach

but seldom, as it taxes my

strength too severely. My

eyes, have, for the last year or

two, failed considerably, so

much so, that I write al-

most altogether by the hand

of an amanuensis. Is John that

little boy that you weaned

while we were at your house?

I think not. What has become

of him? The daughter whose

name you mention, was born

of course, since we left there.

She is named for the Mrs. Finney

that you knew. Will you not

give my kindest love to her.

Your Sister, who resided with

you when we were there, is,

I think, married. I do very

much want to see Bro. Barlow, your

[page 7]

husband. Why can not you & he

come over and see us, this

coming summer? You have

each of you, a Scholarship in this

institution. The disposal of their use

from term to term, has been com-

mitted to me, as you know.

They are constantly paying for tu-

ition of some of our worthy, but

poor, students. We have a young man

from Bolton, a kind of potagee of

Mrs. Best, living most of his time,

in Oberlin. His name is Blinkhorn.

I wish you would give my sincerest love, to

Mr. & Mrs. Best, and to any friends who

may feel interested enough to inquire

about me. Is Bro. Barlow

still mayor of the city?

I suppose he is still prosperous

in business. Will he not be

sent to parliament before

long? We had a young Meth. min.

[page 8]

from Canada call on us, within the

last year, who had been employed

I think in connection with the farm

which you gave to be a kind of orphan's

Asylum, or a home for poor children.

I do not understand exactly, which.

He told us of a Miss McPherson, (I think

her name was) who was engaged in

bringing those children to Canada, & finding

them homes. We were very much interested

in the young man, and in what he said of that

institution on that farm that you gave.

I have so much to say, and so many

inquiries to make, that I do not know

where to begin, or end. I do wish

that you & Bro. Barlow would

come over, and see Oberlin,

and see me, this coming summer.

If I had anything like the physical & pecuniary

ability that you have, I should surely

visit you. Dear wife has heard so

often of you, as to be much interested

& sends her warmest love to you, & your

family. May we not hear again, soon from you & your husband?

Give My dearest love to him. & reserve to yourself as much


[across the top of page 5]

as your

heart can


God Bless

You Evermore!

C. G. Finney



The address is printed at the top of pages 1, 5 and 9.

Reference in the letter to the visit of Moody and Sankey to England indicates that it was written in 1875.

Written thus.

Anna (Andrews) Hill (1797-1887) had returned to England with her husband, Hamilton Hill, in 1865, after his retirement from being Secretary and Treasurer of Oberlin College. He had died in July 1870, and she was living in London, at 14 Woburn Street.

Thomas Barlow was living in London. It is possible that he may have boarded with the Hills at one time. See Thomas Barlow "Journal and Commonplace Book" entry for June 1870 in Barlow Papers, Wellcome Institute Library, A/1; and Thomas Barlow to James and Alice Barlow, 2 August 1870, Barlow Papers, B/1.

Anna Hill's daughter, Catharine Alice Hill (1828-1885), had been a student at Oberlin College in the mid-1850s. She may have been in charge of a girl's school in St Leonard's-on-Sea. She never married, and died there in 1885.

William Hope Davison (1827-1894), who had been minister at Duke's Alley Congregational Chapel in Bolton when the Finneys were there in 1860, had gone to Chatham in Kent in 1873. See The Congregational Year Book, 1895, p. 200.

The Bells had been two of the earliest of Finney's converts in Bolton. See Finney, Memoirs, pp. 598-99.

The Finney's had arrived in Bolton at about midnight on Wednesday, 14 December 1859. Mrs. Finney recorded in her journal that Alice Barlow herself was the first convert. She was converted on Friday 16th, and later that evening Mrs. Bell and two of the servants were also converted. It was the next Monday, 19th, according to Mrs. Finney, that "Miss Howarth called - I trust converted." (E. A. Finney, "Journal", p. 62.)

Finney resigned from the pastorate of the First Congregational Church in Oberlin in March 1872.

Catharine Hill had visited the Finneys in 1871. See Finney's letter to the Barlows, 3 June 1871.

She was named Annie Elizabeth Finney Barlow after Finney's second wife.

i.e. protégé.

This was probably Oliver Blinkhorn who had been a student in the College in 1872-73. See Finney to James and Alice Barlow, 8 January 1868, Finney Papers, 2/2/2.

The Children's Home (later the National Children's Home), was pioneered in London by the Methodist minister, Thomas Bowman Stephenson in 1869. James Barlow soon saw the value of this work and donated a farm of 76 acres near his home in Edgworth, Bolton. It was to be "a country branch of the London Home, and to it we shall draft off such children as we think suitable; especially with a view to their being taken to Canada, and distributed in the families of farmers and other settlers who may be willing to adopt them" ( T. B. S. "Our Farm" in The Children's Advocate (London) No. 6 (August 1871), p. 5). Subsequently Barlow donated another 30 acres, and a home for 120 children was built on the site. See William Bradfield, The Life of the Reverend Thomas Bowman Stephenson (London: Charles H. Kelly, 1913), pp. 125-133; and "Our Farm Branch" in The Children's Advocate and Christian at Work (London) No. 13 (January 1873), pp. 8-10.

The Barlow family were involved with the Home in Edgworth and continued to support it as long as they lived in Edgworth. See, for example, John H. Litten, "Child Welfare Centres. I. Edgworth, near Bolton, Lancs" in The Child Welfare Worker (London), Vol. 5, No. 18 (April 1924), pp. 52-55.

Miss Annie Parlane Macpherson (died 1904) started work amongst orphan children in the East End of London in 1865, where she set up the Home of Industry. Her first home for orphan children was opened in 1868. At that time emigration was thought to be the only answer for the chronic poverty of big cities, so she set up homes in Canada and arranged for many children and families to go there and find work. She and her two sisters were responsible for helping 14,000 children to start a new life in Canada. Her work inspired Dr Barnardo and led to many different missionary efforts. See Lillian M. Birt, The Children's Home-Finder: The Story of Annie Macpherson and Louisa Birt (London: Jas. Nisbet & Co., 1913); "Home of Industry" in Word and Work (London) No. 19 (29 July 1875), p. 12.

The first of her converts in London was a young boy, George W. Clarke, who earned enough at farming in Canada to go to Oberlin College in 1873, in preparation for becoming a missionary in China. See Clara M. S. Lowe, God's Answers: A Record of Miss Annie Macpherson's Work (London: Jas. Nisbet & Co., 1882), p. ; and Andrew F. Walls, "Papers of George William Clarke" in Bulletin of the Scottish Institute of Missionary Studies, No. 5 (Summer 1969), pp. 11-12.