William Turner’s Assistants: Edward Prowitt, Assisstant 1788 – 1802

Edward Prowitt, Assistant 1788 – 1802

Edward Prowitt was a Baptist minister in Oxford who moved to Newcastle to become a boarding schoolmaster in Pilgrim Street. He attracted a following of worshippers who set up a congregation in Pandon(1) calling themselves Unitarian Baptists. In 1797 they acknowledged that they were unable to continue and therefore transferred to the Hanover square congregation. From that date until his death in July 1802 Prowitt became a regular assistant to Turner, whom he had assisted irregularly since his arrival in Newcastle.

Joseph McAllister,  Assistant 1837 – 1845

By September 1837 Turner was approaching 80 years of age and was persuaded by the congregation to take on another assistant. Advice was sought from Rev James Martineau (whose sister, as we have seen, was married to a member of the congregation) who recommended Rev Joseph McAlister from Liverpool. McAlister accepted the appointment as Turner’s assistant and supplemented his income by teaching, at which he was successful. All went well until Turner retired in 1841. Most of the congregation wanted McAlister to stay on, but there was considerable opposition. The congregation voted 140 to 89 in favour of McAlister with 49 abstentions. McAlister struggled on, but with a divided congregation, and after three years he gave up and resigned. Two years later, on 12th April 1846, he died.

(1) Pandon was originally a medieval village in the area east of the central motorway covering an area including Manors Metro station down to the Tyne. The new bridge from which New Bridge Street got its name crossed the Pandon Burn. Older readers may remember that when President Jimmy Carter visited Newcastle in 1977 a part of the ground outside the Civic Centre subsided under the weight of the crowd! That was part of the infill of the Pandon Burn, which joined the River Tyne about where the Law Courts now stand.

Maurice Large