John Campbell (minister)

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John Campbell (1795–1867) was a Congregationalist minister at Whitefield's Tabernacle in London. He was only the second successor of its founder, the Methodist George Whitefield. In the literary field, he was the founder of a number of religious magazines and journals, including the Christian Witness and the British Banner.

Upholder of dissent

Campbell was regarded as a champion of Dissenting orthodoxy, differentiating him from the more non-denominational nonconformists. At the time Dissenting society divided into those that liked his approach, and others (such as the majority of nonconformist theological students and Thomas Binney, the "archbishop of nonconformity") that did not.

Editorship of magazines

Though holding minority orthodox views amongst nonconformists, Campbell's approach grew with the influence he gained by means of magazines and newspapers - the Christian Witness, Christian's Penny, British Ensign, British Standard and the British Banner. Such were the sentiments he aroused that some slanderously maintained that the second n in the latter publication should give place to a g. Dr Parker drew this sketch of his approach, in his office at Bolt Court: Near the window sat the editor at his desk, and before him lay a scrap of paper, on which he jotted a few catch-words... A look at the scrap of paper and then a paragraph; the great voice sounding, and the grey plumage of the noble head nodding...paragraph after paragraph, now very epigrammatic, and anon bordering on the rhetorical; here very sensible, and there nearly bombastic; one sentence striking like a dart, and another stunning like the blow of a hammer.

Always a controversialist, it was at Dr Campbell's persistence that the monopoly of printing the Bible, claimed by the Queen's printer, ceased. The effect was to reduce the cost of the Bible to about one-third of its former price.

His work, Jericho gave great stimulus to Home Missionary operations, stirring up many churches.


This capacity for fulminations and thunderbolts was sometimes of help to his more non-denominational colleagues, as for example when he agreed to join them for the London Reception Speech of the escaped American slave, Frederick Douglass held at Dr Alexander Fletcher's Finsbury Chapel in May 1846. Called on to provide the 'Reply', on behalf of the assembled dissenting ministers he said,

Frederick Douglass, the 'beast of burden', 'the portion of goods and chattels', the representative of three millions of men, has been aised up! Shall I say the man? If there is a man on earth, he is a man. My blood boiled within me when I heard his address tonight, and thought that he had left behind him three millions of such men. We must see more of this man; we must have more of this man..

About twenty years earlier he had been closely associated with John Philip who had worked with great passion to bring the conduct of the Cape Colonists towards the indigenous people to public and parliamentary attention in Britain.

Death and memorial

Campbell died in 1867 and is buried at the Congregationalists's non-denominational Victorian garden cemetery, Abney Park Cemetery, Stoke Newington, London.


  • Joyce, Paul (1985), A Guide to Abney Park Cemetery, London: SAPC & L.B.Hackney
  • French, James Branwhite (1883), A Guide to Abney Park Cemetery, London:James Clarke & Co

External links