Miscellaneous anecdotes and quotations
Here are some miscellaneous anecdotes of various ways in which God used
One day in 1884 he and his wife and Miss Macpherson were passing through
Graceís Alley into Wellclose Square in London as the evening performances in
the music hall were proceeding. The dreadful noise and sounds that came from
the hall startled them. They paused to listen and were so impressed that they
paid the admission fee and went in to see what really could be going on. The
sights on the stage and the condition of things were so awful that they fell
on their knees in the centre of the hall, and in view of the onlookers and the
stage prayed that God would break the power of the devil in the place, and
bring the premises into the use of Christian people. Soon after this the hall
was closed, the licences lapsed, and it was not again opened until February
1888, when it was opened as the East End Mission of the Methodist Church in
1885 and became a church in February 1888 being used by the Mission until
He experienced much blessing in Manchester whilst speaking in various
chapels, which were crowded to capacity. In one of these meetings a group of
volunteers left during the service and went down into the back streets where
there were none but thieves and prostitutes and numbers of them came back to
the chapel and were converted. Also on this occasion a backslider, who heard
this group singing in the streets where the brothels were, was convicted of
his sin and began to weep. He followed the group back to the chapel and
re-dedicated his life to the Lord again. Such was the blessing experienced in
Manchester at that time that a special meeting was held in the Corn Exchange
for all the converts and those still anxious about their souls and it was
crowded to excess with around 2000 people being present.
In "The Revival" in 1861 it was reported that Radcliffe preached to a
crowd of 2500 Ė 3000 people in a railway goods depot in Norwich and that
upwards of 1200 people responded to the appeal!
At a meeting held in Dublin a young lady was converted whilst the hymn was
being read out, before any exhortation had been made.
A young widow who was a staunch Roman Catholic had a great desire to see
the roof of St James Hall in London, as she had heard that it resembled a
building in Pisa. When she arrived she found that a meeting was being held
that night by Radcliffe. She therefore entered the building about half an hour
before the commencement of the meeting. However, because of the huge crowds
that had assembled and quickly filled the hall she found it impossible to make
her way out, so she unwillingly sat down, not intending to hear a word. She
eventually managed to push her way out into Piccadilly but immediately felt
that she must go back to hear more. She went forward when the appeal was made
with the many others who responded and told Radcliffe that he had made her
miserable, but that she must hear more. Eventually she came through to
salvation but she came under severe persecution from both her church and her
family, including an uncle, furious at her apostasy. This uncle went to a
doctor who he knew in an endeavour to get her admitted to a lunatic asylum.
However what he did not know was that the doctor had also been converted!
At Banff in Scotland both Radcliffe and Shuldham Henry preached on one
Sunday from 3pm to 11pm with only an hourís interval in between. When the
service was concluded in the large green in the afternoon and was about to
adjourn to the nearest church to speak to those who had responded to the
appeal, Radcliffe gave out a psalm to be sung on the way, which to those
present gave a sense of the solemn assemblies that used to march to Zion with
the voice of thanksgiving and praise.
Before he became the famous Bishop of Liverpool, J C Ryle, who was
probably the most well-known evangelical in the Church of England, whilst he
was the vicar of Stadbroke in Suffolk invited Radcliffe to conduct parish
missions and open air evangelism in Ipswich and Stadbroke.
In a circular dated 26th September 1861 he referred to a
meeting held in Manchester with Duncan Matheson, Harrison Ord and Edward Usher
and stated that in the middle of the meeting, these men, instead of wasting
their time listening to him went outside to proclaim the Gospel near the
crowded thoroughfare. We need such efforts he said and what a need for more
such labourers as these.
In another circular sent to The Revival in March 1861 he described the
pain of only being able to stay in a town one day and tear himself away from
babes in Christ and distressed ones, in order to fulfil engagement elsewhere.
He pleaded for thousands of earnest men and women to rise throughout the
country to this work.
Christian unity was something that was very dear and important to him.
Whenever he was invited to preach in a town he would write to ask if the
different Christian denominations were united and brotherly. For this reason
he usually preferred to speak in large buildings for his preaching which
formed as it were on a neutral ground and not consecrated to any particular
denomination. He referred to one place in particular where great unity and
brotherly love was shown and the result, he said, was a large outpouring of
the Spirit and a great revival. If a church is to be blessed, he said, it must
In 1874 he organised a house-to-house visitation programme in Manchester
and Liverpool in connection with the visit of Moody and Sankey, by which means
every household in these cities were brought into touch with the gospel. So
impressed was Moody with his efforts that he invited Radcliffe to do the same
in London prior to his big crusade meetings there, which he did. One old lady
85 years of age, hearing that Radcliffe was coming to London to arrange the
house-to-house visitation said "I must do something; I am getting old, but I
will take a district." This she did and in one house she visited where they
were Roman Catholics they refused to take a leaflet, so she said to them,
therefore, that she would read it out to them. They had to listen to her as
they did not have the heart to put out an 85 years old woman. An army of
volunteers was brought together and after months of hard work with weekly
prayer meetings being held in a number of different localities, Londonís four
million households were visited.
In 1888 he was invited to travel to America with Hudson Taylor, the famous
missionary to China, in order to raise funds for the mission field, Mr Taylor
appealing for China, and Radcliffe for Russia, for which he had a particular
burden. They travelled extensively throughout America and Canada addressing
large crowds throughout.
Radcliffe always had a strong association with an organisation called "The
Strangerís Rest" which was first established in Liverpool in 1875. In
conjunction with Annie Macpherson he established one in London a year later,
based on the one in Liverpool, and five years later he set about establishing
one in Hamburg for the benefit of foreigners and seamen. Subsequently he
established one in Hull in which his daughter was actively involved. His son
Heber, later established one in Denmark.
Radcliffe produced a profound impression in Paris by simply uttering the
words, "Dieu vous aime!" Ė two or three times over i.e. "God loves you."
In the booklet "The evangelisation of the world" partly written by
Radcliffe, he stressed the importance of older people being engaged in
Christian work, stating that some of their most effective missionaries were
elderly people. Witness the departure, a few days ago, he said, of Bishop
Taylor, aged 63 years, taking a party of 40 missionaries into the interior of
Africa by a route that was expected to occupy him three years of marching.
There are a number of books/booklets written by Radcliffe, either solely
or in conjunction with others, which are listed below. They are all available
at the British Library.
- Pardon and Holiness. An address.
- Living for Jesus.
- The Evangelization of the World (together with C T Studd)
- Give ye them to eat. An address
He also wrote an introductory note to James Turnerís "How to reach the
masses." This is also available at the Evangelical Library.
17. They had three children, Catherine, Heber and Brainard.