DUR-NBL-L ArchivesArchiver > DUR-NBL > 2001-02 > 0982532803
From: Geoff Nicholson <>
Subject: Re: Blythe HURST
Date: Sun, 18 Feb 2001 21:46:43 +0000
In message <010801c099c1$84ef7f80$>, Gary Arkless
>I wondered if anyone has heard of a Clergyman by the name of Blythe HURST who is
>shown on the 1881 census at St Thomas vicarage Kyo, with his daughter Mary.
>He was born c1825 at Winlaton and there is an old family tale that he a well
>known preacher in Co Durham.
Blythe Hurst (1806-1882) is one of my "local heroes". He was
remarkable in that, starting life as the son of a blacksmith at
Winlaton, and becoming a blacksmith himself (towards the latter end of
the Crowley regime), he also became interested in religion. He then
decided that to better understand the Bible he should learn the
languages of the middle east in Biblical times: not only the obvious
ones such as Greek, Latin, Aramaic and Hebrew, but the less obvious ones
such as Syriac, Sanscrit, Chaldaic, Persian and Arabic as well as (of
course) all modern European languages.
Even at that stage he gave lectures at the Church of England
Institute (?Newcastle) and at the Blaydon Literary Institute, on
subjects such as "Semitic Inscriptions" and "Egyptian Hieroglyphics".
He taught himself these languages while he worked, chalking up
the declensions of the verbs on his "flame-stone" at the side of his
fire. He thus became himself an expert on all those languages and by
then reading the Bible in its original form, and being able to "read
between the lines" as well, he set himself up as a really excellent
Although at the time it was virtually unknown for any working
man to aspire to become a priest of the Established Church, and although
he had in the past been associated with Methodism (horror! :-o) the
Bishop of Durham (Dr Maltby) agreed to ordain him. He was much
influenced not only by Blythe Hurst's achievements with the languages of
antiquity but also with a pamphlet he had written in modern (Victorian)
In 1839/40 Alexander Campbell, one of Robert Owen's Socialist
"Missionaries" had visited Winlaton, hoping to convert the formerly High
Tory Crowley's Crew, which had nevertheless been active in the Chartist
movement, but Hurst had resoundingly rebuffed him, both verbally and in
his pamphlet, entitled "Christianity no Priestcraft". The Rector of
Winlaton, Rev Henry Wardell, brought it to the notice of the Bishop, Dr
Maltby, who was impressed enough to ordain Blyth Hurst in 1842. He
became the Vicar, first of Slaley in Northumberland, then of Garrigill,
a chapelry of the Cumbrian (but still in Durham Diocese) parish of
Alston, and later of the new parish of Collierley, formed (near Kyo)
from that of Lanchester in NW Co Durham. While there he continued to be
recognised as a linguistic expert and was given a PhD by the University
of Rostock in Germany.
The life of Blythe Hurst has been written up in several places,
among them Bourne's "History of Ryton Parish" and Fawcett's "History of
Dipton parish" (both of which are available on microfiche from
Lindenbridge publications). I have a feeling that although he is mainly
associated with "south of the Tyne" he may even have a biography in
Welford's "Men of Mark Twixt Tyne and Tweed".
Blythe Hurst is buried at Winlaton.
He is a fine example of a self-taught genius.
Geoff Nicholson, 57 Manor Park, Concord, WASHINGTON, Tyne & Wear NE37 2BU
* The PROFESSIONAL GENEALOGIST for Northumberland and Co Durham.
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