"By the time of his death, Bourne was regarded as a father figure for the Primitive Method movement and his funeral procession was attended by more than 16,000 people. He is buried at Englesea Brook chapel in Weston, near Crewe, south Cheshire, not far from his home in Bemersley."
He was born in Stoke-on-Trent,Staffordshire,England,the son of Joseph and Ellen Bourne.As a youth,he was apprenticed to his uncle as a wheelwright,and eventually pursued this trade being principally concerned with windmill and watermill wheels.From his childhood he sought an inner conviction of salvation and he spent,as he put it, "twenty sorrowful years" in this pursuit.In 1799,at the age of twenty-seven,he achieved this goal.From that point on,he began to seek a way to be a preacher of the gospel,although by necessity he continued in his trade.He joined the Methodist movement,but his support of the "camp meeting" type of open-air evangelism did not endear him to many fellow Methodists.He learned much about the camp meeting when the American evangelist Lorenzo Dow (1777-1834)visited England, on May 31,1807,he put his knowledge into practice by organizing the first English camp meeting at Mow Cop,on the border of Cheshire and Staffordshire.The Methodist authorities condemned the proceedings as "highly improper and liable to be productive of considerable mischief in England," and excluded Bourne from the circuit in 1808.Bourne and his followers organized under the name Camp Meeting Methodists.In 1810, William Clowes (1780-1851) was also excluded from the Methodist circuit for much the same reasons as Bourne's exclusion and in 1812 the name Primitive Methodists was taken. The Camp Meeting Methodists and the Clowesites coalesced into one body. Emphasis on the camp meeting as a channel of evangelism was unquestioned.For the next forty years,Bourne travelled widely,founding Primitive Methodist societies,which by the time of his death numbered one hundred ten thousand persons with five hundred.and more travelling preachers. In 1829,a mission field was opened in America,with stations in New York,Philadelphia,and Upper Canada.In 1840,the United States churches became independent of the English Conference.Bourne,at the age of seventy-two,in 1844 undertook a journey to Upper Canada to oversee the mission there.