Hugh Bourne was born on 3 April 1772 at Ford Hayes Farm, Ford Hayes Lane, Bucknall, near Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire. He was the third son and fifth child of Joseph and Ellen (nee Steele).  He was christened on 19 April 1772 at Bucknall cum Bagnall.
Hugh was initially schooled at home (due to the remoteness of the farm and the family's economic position) but when he was 7, and as he was a quick learner his father sent Hugh to Mr Cooper's school at Werrington, in Caverswall Parish - a 2 mile walk each way. This was possibly with a view to have Hugh "brought up for a parson". Hugh was later sent to the church endowed school in nearby Bucknall, although work on the farm often kept him away from his lessons. Finally, all thought of him becoming a parson "evaporated into the air" and his father took Hugh out of school to train him in his own trades as farmer and wheelwright. 
When Hugh was 17, the family moved from Ford Hay farm to Bemersley in 1788  and soon after Joseph Bourne ceased working in the timber and wheelwrighting trades. Hugh now worked for his uncle, William Sharratt, at Milton (3 miles from Bemersley) and although he was "never fond on wheelwrighting" he became proficient in engineering.
Another advantage of working for his Uncle, was that Hugh was now exposed to a wider range of people. He was a natural people watcher and "his native rusticity received a polish from his observation of persons and things." His Uncle's large business also meant that Hugh had to travel, by foot, some considerable distances and so he began to see more of the world, whilst having plenty of time to think.
Hugh was always a great reader and believed strongly in self-improvement, he read widely about all subjects, including works about the Quakers, and text by Wesley and others on Methodism. The Bourne family practice had been to attend the "established church" (ie Church of England) but since Hugh began reading the methodist magazine, he attended the methodist preaching service with his mother and brother James.
In June 1799, Hugh joined the Wesleyans, and attended preaching with zeal, but struggled to remember the content afterwards.
1800 saw Hugh working in and around Mow Cop in the Staffordshire moorlands and he was shocked by the "immorality and ungodliness" of the residents. It was rare for a stranger not to be assaulted or at least insulted in the area. This effected him so much that the following year he returned to the area and built a chapel.  There was a blacksmith in the area that Hugh often worked with and their conversations often turned to religion. On August 17th 1800 Hugh wrote of his own conversion and gave this to the smith. Later the smith in conversation with another local man, a poacher called Daniel Shubotham (who was also a distant cousin of Hugh) referred to this and the impact this had on Daniel was enormous. He went to Hugh to learn more... Hugh's own diary explains that he was sorrowful that he had not been able to express himself as well as he had hoped. The following day he met Daniel again and this time he was able to preach in such a way that Daniel changed his behaviour so much people believed Hugh had driven him mad. 
Daniel's conversation was the first of many, but perhaps more significantly for Hugh, it was Daniel who convinced him that he should start preaching. "Our chapels were coal pit banks ... we preached gospel to all, good or bad, rough or smooth."  These soon became organised prayer meetings, however Hugh wanted teaching classes to take place too -but the demand was to hear him preach and so at 2pm on Sunday 12 July 1801 he made hist "first attempt" worrying that he may "injure the cause of God" and expecting only a dozen or so people; but so many turned out that the house he planned to use soon filled up and overflowed, so he preached outdoors on what became "the perfect day."
The 1851 census records that on the night of 30 March that year, Hugh was visiting James and Harriett Broad at their home on Park Street, Congleton. Hugh is described as a 79 year old, unmarried Licensed Primitive Methodist teacher, born in Stoke on Trent, Staffordhsire.
Hugh died on 11 October 1852 aged 80 1/2 years, the cause of death being "old age and infirmity" although "died from a mortification of his foot " is often quoted. He is buried at Englesea Brook Chapel  his grave is also listed on www.findagrave.com  His headstone reads "Sacred to the memory of the venerable Hugh Bourne chief founder of the Primitive Methodists"
Walford, John. (1854) Memoirs of the Life and Labours of the late venerable Hugh Bourne: By a member of the Bourne family. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press. (ISBN 978-1-108-02498-3) "This volume, first published in 1854 and written by Bourne's nephew John Walford, contains a detailed biography of Bourne."
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