John Hambleton of Liverpool
The converted actor
John Hambleton was born in Toxteth Park, Liverpool in 1820. Nothing is known of his father but his mother was a very godly woman who taught him the scriptures from an early age. Unfortunately he got into bad company and was drawn into a sinful life through his association with them. At the age of 14 he ran away from home, emigrated to Australia, and entered the theatrical profession. When he heard of the Californian Gold Rush he travelled around North America as an actor, theatrical manager, adventurer and gold digger, and was again attracted to the worst of company, mixing with murderers and robbers, and faced death on a number of occasions but the hand of God was upon him, no doubt as a result of his mother's prayers for him. His mother had prayed constantly for him and asked God to eventually bring him back to Liverpool and she asked one of her daughters to take a sheet of paper and write upon it a declaration that God would save her son John and bring him back to Liverpool and that he might become a Gospel preacher. Her prayers were eventually answered but she never lived to see it happen. It wasn't until 1851 that he eventually came back to Liverpool still not a Christian but within a short time he was converted and immediately set about serving his Lord and Saviour as a preacher of the Gospel. He prayed for a fellow labourer which God very soon answered in the name of a Liverpool Dock worker called Edward Usher and together they began evangelising around Liverpool, seeing great fruits for their labours. This led on to the preaching of the Gospel around the country and see God move in a very powerful way, sometimes experiencing revival in certain parts of the country. For the full biography that I have done of his life please turn to part 4 of my website under the heading "Three Great Evangelists". The following is a short introduction to this biography:
John Hambleton was "a burning and shining light" and "a bold and fearless ambassador for Christ,"¹ to the people of his generation. He was described by Jane Radcliffe as "a lion like man for boldness in His Master’s cause." Many and many a time, she said, was the story of his conversion told by her husband, both in English and by interpretation, in other languages. His long weary journeys to proclaim the Gospel, and the work of Bible carriage in many towns, contribute, she said, a marvellous story of faithful and successful service, and the record of his life and that of his companion Edward Usher would fill a volume.
With regard to the last point made by her, it is a shame that no such volume exists. The book that he wrote, "Buds, Blossoms, and Fruits of the Revival," is simply a record of what God had done in his life, mainly during the period 1851 to around 1865, so that this only covers part of his life. The book actually starts with his arrival in Liverpool in 1851, when he was 31 years of age, although he does on a couple of occasions refer to his early life. I have not had, therefore, a complete picture of his life, so I have consequently only been able to put this together with incomplete information.
It is my hope, however, that the contents of this booklet, incomplete as it is, will be sufficient to inspire and strengthen the faith of all who read it, as it has done mine.
1. Chief men among The Brethren – Henry Pickering