CHANNING,  William Henry  [1810 - 1884]

William Henry Channing, a close friend of the American philosopher Henry David Thoreau, served as Chaplain of the US House of Representatives and was a leading  early campaigner in America for women’s suffrage. Between 1854 and 1862 he lived in Liverpool, preaching as a Unitarian Minister.

He was born in Boston, Massachusetts on 25th May 1810. His father died when he was an infant and responsibility for his education fell to his uncle, a leading Unitarian theologian of the early 19th century, William Ellery Channing. He graduated from Harvard in 1829 and from Harvard Divinity School in 1833. Ordained into the Unitarian church he began his ministry in 1835. Channing was a strong supporter of the early socialist movement in America and at various times was editor of a number of radical journals.

He came to Liverpool in1854 and until 1857 was minister at Renshaw Street Unitarian Chapel. In 1857 he succeeded James Martineau as minister of the Hope Street Unitarian Chapel. The gothic chapel had been built in 1848 and stood next to the original Philharmonic Hall, opened a year later in 1849. The church was demolished in 1962. In 1862, following the outbreak of the American Civil War, Channing returned to the USA. He was, however, to return to England after the war and he died in London on 23rd December 1884 aged 74.

Whilst in Liverpool he lived at 7 Montpelier Terrace, Upper Parliament Street L8. This Regency terrace, dating from the 1820’s,  stood between Grove Street and Bloom Street and was demolished in the late 1960’s.

Montpelier Terrace, Upper Parliament Street L8

A view of part of Montpelier Terrace take shortly before its demolition in the 1960s

Renshaw Unitarian Chapel

Channing's first chapel in Liverpool. It stood on the site now occupaied by Central Hall. The congregation moved to the Unitarian Church on Ullet Road.

Hope Street Unitarian Church

In this photograph you can see the Unitarian Church standing to the side of the original Philharmonic Hall. The church was demolished in 1962.


The Wikpedia entry gives a reasonable account of his career and publications. there is a more detailed account on the American Transcendentalism Web.  The US National Parks website carries an article highlighting his role in the anti-slavery movement.