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Dawson, George

DAWSON, GEORGE (1821-1876), English nonconformist divine, was born in London on the 24th of February 1821, and was educated at Marischal College, Aberdeen, and at the university of Glasgow. In 1843 he accepted the pastorate of the Baptist church at Rickmans worth, and in 1844 a similar charge at Mount Zion, Birmingham, where he attracted large congregations by his eloquence and his unconventional views. Desiring freedom from any definite creed, he left the Baptist church and became minister of the " Church of the Saviour," a building erected for him by his supporters. Here he exercised a stimulating and varied ministry for nearly thirty years, gathering round him a congregation of all types and especially of such as found the dogmas of the age distasteful. He had much sympathy with the Unitarian position, but was not himself a Unitarian. Indeed he had no fixed standpoint, and discussed truths and principles from various aspects. His sermons, though not particularly speculative, were unconventional and quickening. He was the friend of Carlyle and Emerson, and did much to popularize their teachings, his influence being conspicuous, especially in his demand for a high ethical standard in everyday life and his insistence on the Christianization of citizenship. He was warmly supported by Dr R. W. Dale, and by J. T. Bunce, editor of The Birmingham Daily Post. Both Dawson and Dale were disqualified as ministers from seats on the town council, but both served on the Birmingham school board. Dawson also lectured on English literature at the Midland Institute and helped to found the Shakespeare Memorial library in Birmingham. He died suddenly at King's Norton on the 30th of November 1876. Four volumes of Sermons, two of Prayers and two of Biographical Lectures were published after his death.

See Life by H. W. Crosskey (1876) and an article by R. W. Dale in The Nineteenth Century (August 1877).

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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