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Bourne family papers
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administration Information
  • Biographical Note
  • Scope and Content
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Bourne family papers
    Inclusive Dates: approximately 1799-1918
    Bulk Dates: 1845-1865
    Collection Call Number: mssBournepapers
    Creator OR Collector: Bourne, George, 1780-1845
    Extent: 119 items in two boxes
    Repository: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Manuscripts Department
    The Huntington Library
    1151 Oxford Road
    San Marino, California 91108
    Phone: (626) 405-2191
    Fax: (626) 449-5720
    Email: reference@huntington.org
    URL: http://www.huntington.org
    Abstract: The papers of American abolitionists and clergymen George Bourne and Theodore Bourne, including correspondence, sermons, essays, notes, ephemera and copies of genealogical materials.
    Language of Material: The records are in English.

    Administration Information


    Collection is open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information, please go to following web site .

    Publication Rights

    The Huntington Library does not require that researchers request permission to quote from or publish images of this material, nor does it charge fees for such activities. The responsibility for identifying the copyright holder, if there is one, and obtaining necessary permissions rests with the researcher.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Bourne family papers, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

    Acquisition Information

    Gift of Curtis L. Taylor, September 2013.

    Biographical Note

    George Bourne (1780-1845), English-born American clergyman and abolitionist. Bourne was born on June 18, 1780 in Wesbury, Wiltshire, England. He studied at the seminary at Homerton, London. In 1802, he came to the United States for a brief visit. Upon his return to England in 1804, he married Mary Stibbs and shortly sailed for New York. The Bournes then moved on to Baltimore where George Bourne became the editor and co-owner of the Baltimore Daily Gazette. In 1809, Bourne left Maryland for Virginia. He first went to New Glasgow, then to Port Republic to become the minister to the town's new Presbyterian church, and then to Harrisonburg, Virginia, where he became one of the founders and the secretary of the Religious Tract Society. In 1815, Bourne, invoking the condemnation of "man-stealers" in I Timothy 1:10, queried the General Assembly demanding a formal ruling on the question of whether or not it was permissible for Presbyterians to own slaves. The Assembly refused to act, and Bourne's own presbytery voted to expel him from the ministry. In 1816, Bourne published The book and slavery irreconcilable that identified slaveholding as a sin. The General Assembly retroactively removed Bourne's reference to I Timothy 1:10 from his protest on procedural grounds. Bourne appealed again in 1817, but in 1818, the General Assembly upheld his presbytery's decision to defrock him.
    Bourne then left Virginia for New England, and in 1824, accepted a call from Mount Pleasant, Quebec, to take charge of the Congregational church there. In the late 1820s, his alarm at the danger that the influx of Catholic immigrants from Europe supposedly posed to the American Protestantism and the Republic, prompted him to return to the United States. Bourne settled in New York, joined the Reformed Dutch Classis of New York. He served as the pastor to the churches in Provost, Huston and Forsyth Streets, and then at West Farms. He also edited the Christian Intelligencer, the organ of the Reformed Dutch Church. On January 1, 1830, Bourne began the publication of The Protestant, the first magazine devoted entirely to exposing the dangers of "Papism." In collaboration with William Craig Brownlee, Bourne launched the Protestant Vindicator, a successor to The Protestant. Bourne was also the founder the Protestant Reformation Society, an antecedent of the Christian Alliance and the American and Foreign Christian Union. In 1831, Bourne was one of the founders of the American Antislavery Society and was a frequent contributor to Lloyd Garrison's Liberator. Bourne was a prolific writer known particularly by his antislavery and anti-Catholic writings. He also published works of evangelical controversialists, including Luther, Fulke, Baxter, and others.
    George Bourne died on November 20, 1845. He was survived by four sons – George Melksham (b. approx. 1806), twins Christopher Stibbs (1812-1860) and Rowland Hill (1812-1886), and Theodore (1822-1910). In 1852-1853, George M. Bourne went from New York via Panama; he described his travels in a series of articles published in the New York Tribune. He settled in San Francisco, established himself as a water-cure physician with a successful health clinic. In 1869, he sold the business to move to Lake Tahoe and in the spring of 1871, opened Dr. Bourne's Hygienic Establishment, a health spa in Carnelian Bay of Lake Tahoe that he renamed the Cornelian Bay Sanatoria three years later. He was known for his book The home doctor: a guide to health (San Francisco, 1878), numerous articles on abstinence, temperance and vegetarianism, and meteorological and hydrographic data on Lake Tahoe.
    Theodore Bourne, educated at the Union Seminary, was ordained Presbyterian minister but had to leave the ministry due to health problems. He was later Professor of Languages at the Huguenot Institute in New York, secretary of African Colonization Society, and was one of the founders of the Society for the Prevention and Suppression of Crime. In 1857, he married Emeline Johnson (1828-1908); the couple had three children - Charles Rogers Bourne (b. 1859), Leila Madeline Bourne (b. 1861), and Theodore Frederick Bourne (b. 1863).


    The collection is arranged alphabetically by author.

    Scope and Content

    The collection consists primarily of writings and letters by George Bourne and his son Theodore Bourne. There are a few items written by Emeline Johnson Bourne.
    The majority of the collection is made of sermons, notes for sermons, essays, etc., on various subjects including: the Catholic Church, Christianity, the Reformed Dutch Churches, Protestantism, religion and its role in the world, the Bible, specific Bible verses, as well as slavery. Many of the sermons and essays are undated drafts, and often incomplete.
    The collection also contains several poems and some family correspondence. Other authors include: Sir Culling Eardley, Andrew Fernando Holmes, Ezra Stiles Ely and William Lloyd Garrison.
    There is ephemera, printed material, and photocopies of genealogical information at the end of the collection.
    Many items in the collection are in fragile condition.

    Indexing Terms

    Personal Names

    Bourne, George, 1780-1845
    Bourne, George Melksham, 1806-1887
    Bourne, Theodore
    Eardley, Culling Eardley, Sir, 1805-1863
    Ely, Ezra Stiles, 1786-1861
    Garrison, William Lloyd, 1805-1879
    Holmes, A. F. (Andrew Fernando), 1797-1860

    Corporate Names

    Catholic Church
    Reformed Protestant Dutch Church (U.S.)



    Abolitionists -- United States -- Archives
    Presbyterian Church
    Slavery -- United States -- Religious aspect

    Geographic Areas

    United States -- Church history -- 19th century -- Sources


    Essays -- United States -- 19th century
    Letters (correspondence) -- United States -- 19th century
    Sermons -- United States -- 19th century