Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Maughan, James (1826–1871)

by F. Hambly

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 5, (MUP), 1974

James Maughan (1826-1871), by unknown photographer, c1865

James Maughan (1826-1871), by unknown photographer, c1865

State Library of South Australia, SLSA: B 17910

James Maughan (1826-1871), Methodist New Connexion minister, was born on 25 October 1826 at Hebburn, County Durham, England, son of James Maughan and his wife Isabella. He was still an infant when his father died and his mother remarried. They moved to Seaton, north of Newcastle upon Tyne, where in 1838 James enjoyed a year's schooling under an Anglican minister. Next year he resolved to go to work and study at night school. Insufficient sleep led to poor health and in 1840 he contracted rheumatic fever. In 1842 he joined the Methodist New Connexion and in 1844 became a local preacher. In 1847 when the minister in the Mossley circuit, Lancashire, became ill Maughan took his place and at the next conference was made a minister on probation. He served in the Bradford, Macclesfield, Derby and Dewsbury circuits before being received into the full ministry in 1852. For two years in London his intelligent preaching doubled the membership and led to the building of a second New Connexion Chapel. He then served for two years in Leeds and three in Dudley where he worked with the Wesleyans and other Methodist groups in a united Sunday school and helped to raise funds for enlarging the building. In 1859 he was appointed to Castle Green Church, Bristol, where he attracted prominent notice by preaching on such subjects as a local fire disaster, appearance of a comet and against sham war-making at voluntary reviews. At Stockport on 8 March 1854 he had married Catherine Moss.

In May 1862 Maughan was dedicated for service in Australia and with his wife and four children he left Liverpool in the Blanche Moore. For his Sunday services and scientific lectures fellow passengers presented him with a piece of scientific equipment when the ship reached Melbourne on 1 September. He found the cost of living too high in Melbourne and Ballarat so decided to make his headquarters in Adelaide where he found the largest number of his denomination. He held his first services on 21 December and continued to preach in public rooms until a new church was opened on 12 December 1864 in Franklin Street. Two other chapels were built outside Adelaide and a new mission house was built in Whitmore Square on land provided by G. F. Angas. Maughan won great respect by his paper, 'The Drainage of Adelaide', read to the Adelaide Philosophical Society on 15 August 1865 and by his public lecture in 1866 on 'Mr. Baxter, Louis Napoleon, the coming struggle, and Christ's second advent'. However, his health was undermined and to recuperate he decided to visit England. He left in April 1869 with his friend, Samuel Way, who was eminent in Bible Christian circles. In England they tried to amalgamate the two denominations but without immediate success. While under treatment for congested lungs Maughan ignored the advice of his doctors and insisted on preaching often and in widely separated places on his Australian work. Although he greatly helped the cause in South Australia he damaged his health. He returned to Adelaide in October 1870 but within four months a bronchial attack prevented him from preaching. He died on 8 March 1871 and was buried in West Terrace cemetery, leaving an estate of less than £900. His wife died at Malvern on 2 August 1911, after long and unobtrusive work for philanthropy. She was survived by a daughter and three sons.

A tablet in his memory was subscribed by his congregation and was erected at the church named after him.

Select Bibliography

  • W. Cooke, The Man of all Work (Lond, 1872)
  • B. Gregory, Side Lights on the Conflicts of Methodism During the Second Quarter of the Nineteenth Century, 1827-1852 (Lond, 1899)
  • J. M. Witherow, Church Rebels and Pioneers (Lond, 1928)
  • Observer (Adelaide), 31 Jan 1863
  • Register (Adelaide), 9-12 Mar 1871.

Citation details

F. Hambly, 'Maughan, James (1826–1871)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/maughan-james-4173/text6701, published first in hardcopy 1974, accessed online 21 November 2017.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 5, (MUP), 1974

View the front pages for Volume 5

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2017

James Maughan (1826-1871), by unknown photographer, c1865

James Maughan (1826-1871), by unknown photographer, c1865

State Library of South Australia, SLSA: B 17910