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Pearse, Mark Guy
1842-1930; e.m. 1865

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WM preacher and prolific author. Born into a prominent Camborne family on 3 January 1842, his writings reflect his lifelong devotion to his native Cornwall. His schooldays included a year at the Moravian settlement of Zeist in the Netherlands and four years at Wesley College, Sheffield; and he was briefly a medical student at Bart's before entering the ministry. He trained at Didsbury College and had his probation extended because he married two years before the official rules allowed.

From 1887 to 1902 he was a colleague of Hugh Price Hughes in the West London Mission, working especially to build up the Mission's Sisterhood. W.H. Lax quoted Hughes as telling Pearse that 'his duty was to coddle the saints in the morning, whilst he himself caught the sinners in the evening'. He undertook world-wide preaching tours on the Mission's behalf, visiting Canada and the USA, Australasia, South Africa and India.

His popularity as a preacher and speaker owed much to his vivid imagination, sense of humour and mellifluous delivery. Volumes of his Sunday morning sermons were published, but he was best known for his fiction, notably the best-selling Daniel Quorm and his Religious Notions (two volumes, 1874 and 1875), based on a Camborne miner and class leader he had known in his youth. He also wrote poems, and four of his hymns were included in the WM Sunday School Hymn Book of 1879. Like many of his Wesleyan contemporaries he was slow to espouse the temperance cause, but by the early 1880s he had become a powerful advocate of total abstinence. He was elected to the Legal Hundred at the Conference of 1884 and in 1894 served on the committee revising the Covenant Service. He retired from the Mission in 1903, but continued a very active ministry of preaching and speaking. He died in London on 1 January 1930.

His daughter Maud worked as a Sister in the West London Mission, became a nurse and went out to India as a missionary. Her younger sister Jean Marian Pearse studied at Girton College before entering an Anglican Sisterhood and taking vows of poverty and celibacy. One of their brothers, John Warwick Guy Pearse, worked in the West London slums before taking Holy Orders in 1901.

Quotations

'…Mark Guy Pearce [sic], who has attained a name beyond his own denomination for a species of literature which cultivates a new field. His talents are unique, and his books have enjoyed an exensive circulation, and one given to but few men. We look upon them as healthy works, and sainted men and women throughout the Connexion have read them without endangering the keeness of their own spirituality.'

Methodism in 1879, pp.52-3

'I count it among the greatest privileges of my teens that I was a member of the Launceston congregation … during the time he was minister there. You could not but listen when he was preaching, and must be blind indeed if you failed to see Jesus who was so evidently set before your eyes. He followed the good old rule of making Christ central in every sermon, and he was specially powerful … in skilful and persuasive application… He had the wooing and the winning note. The cultured were charmed by his dramatic and artistic presentation - his art being of the high quality that conceals art - while the common people heard him gladly and flocked to his services.'

F.L. Wiseman in Methodist Recorder, 11 June 1942

Sources

  • G.J. Stevenson, Methodist Worthies 1884-1886) 6 pp.548-56
  • Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence, My Part in a Changing World (1938) pp.98-111
  • Times, 2 January 1930
  • Methodist Recorder, 9 Jan. 1930
  • Mrs G. Unwin & J. Telford, Mark Guy Pearse, Preacher, Author, Artist 1842-1930 (1930)
  • F. Luke Wiseman, 'Mark Guy Pearse: some centenary reminiscences' in Methodist Recorder, 11 June 1942
  • Elizabeth Watthews, 'Mr. Horn and his friends', in WHS East Anglia District Journal, no.107 (2007)
  • Derek Williams, Cornubia's Son: a life of Mark Guy Pearse (2008)

Entry written by: JAV
Category: Person

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