John Heywood (1808-87), Writer, Printer and Postmaster

The following is taken from a 1907 Heywood Advertiser article by John Albert Green:

'John Heywood, printer and postmaster, was born in 1808. He was at first a piecer, but soon after his marriage set up in business as a bookseller and stationer in a cottage opposite the Lamb Inn, York-street. He removed to a better position near the Wesleyan Chapel, Market-street, and added printing to his other business. His name appeared on the Religious, Literary, and Temperance Advocate for 1839. About this time he commenced to issue in parts The Sunday School and General Reciter, of which several volumes were published. He was also the printer of works by Samuel Bamford, and was very friendly with him.

Mr. Heywood issued the Heywood Observer, monthly, in 1847-8. This was an eight-page miscellany, and contained hardly any news, but sometimes an article on the bygones of Heywood was inserted, probably written by the publisher. He composed the well-known hymn ‘Sabbath schools are England's glory,’ which is still sung at the annual gatherings of Sunday schools. He was very fond of telling how pleased he was on the occasion of a festival in Halifax, when he heard his hymn sung by the many thousand children present. The following interesting account of the genesis of the hymn is from the pen of the author's daughter:
‘The hymn, "England's Glory," was written under the following circumstances: It was composed during a morning service in Bethel-street Chapel. I do not remember who was the preacher, but it was not the resident minister. I sat by my father's side in the orchestra, and during the sermon the preacher began to speak of the good done by Sabbath schools, and by and bye he warmed to his subject, and, throwing up his arms, exclaimed, "Sabbath schools! they are the glory of England!!" My father turned to me with a quick, bright smile, and immediately drew from his pocket a mall memorandum book, having some blank pages, and - with a lead pencil - at once began to write the well-known hymn. In a few moments the first verse was written, and he shewed it to me; we both smiled; and he went on writing - and thinking. I don't think he heard much more of the sermon. I believe the hymn was finished the same day, and at once found favour with everyone, and was in a few days' time set to music. He wished to make it popular, so conceived the idea of issuing it at a penny per copy, which at that time was quite a novel idea. It was the first Sabbath school hymn sold at that price. It has been sung in every quarter of the globe. My father also wrote a hymn, "Come to Jesus," which was printed on the same sheet in all the original editions. I am sorry I do not possess a copy of this. Nottingham. JANE BROOKS.’
He was for nearly half-a-century prominently associated with the political, religious, and musical life of the town. It has been said that ‘his power to draw out the musical faculties of children was remarkable, and called forth frequent praise from preachers of the annual sermons.’ For nearly forty years he was choirmaster of Bethel-street.

He founded the Heywood Advertiser in 1855, and conducted it with varying success until 1878, when it was sold to the present proprietor.

Mr. Heywood had a good memory, and could tell some excellent stories when in the humour. As a writer of dialect he has left us a few capital examples. The best of these is entitled ‘A Yewud Chap's Trip to Manchister to see Prince Halbert, th' Queen, an' th' Art Treasures Eggshibishun.’ By ‘Oud John’ Heywood: Printed for the author by John Heywood, Post Office. 1857...’ There is a copy of this pamphlet, which is now very scarce, in the Heywood Free Library. It is contained in a volume of pamphlets relating to the Manchester Art Treasures Exhibition, 1857. He had the true poetic instinct, one of his poems on "St. Luke's Old Church" having had an extensive circulation locally…

For over thirty years he was the postmaster of Heywood, and resigned in 1885. He died in Seymour-street, Heywood, on July 13th, 1887, and was interred at Heywood Cemetery. "Sabbath schools are England's glory" was sung in remembrance of John Heywood at the evening service on the occasion of the Sunday school anniversary, Bethel-street, August 21st, 1887, the Rev. Marmaduke Miller being the preacher. 

(Letter to the 'Primitive Methodist Leader', 1 February 1906).

   Works authored by John Heywood   
  1. The Sunday school and general reciter, containing select poetry and dialogues. Vol. 1. 1841. John Heywood, printer.
  2. The Juvenile Annual; or Youthful miscellany for the year 1846. John Heywood, printer.
  3. The Heywood Observer: a monthly miscellany. No. I, April 1847. Price 1d. J. Heywood, printer, Heywood. pp. 8. [No. 22, January 1849.]
  4. ‘Sabbath schools are England's glory.’ Words and tune by John Heywood. [1850.] Broadside.
  5. A dialogue between two weavers obeawt o' Corn Law Meeting e Yewud. Heywood, J Heywood, printer, 1844, pp. 8.
  6.  Heywood Advertiser and Railway and Post Office monthly guide. Vol. 1. 1853-4. J. Heywood, printer.
  7. Heywood Advertiser. No. 1. June 16th 1855. J. Heywood, printer.
  8. A Yewud Chap's Trip to Manchister to see Prince Halbert, th' Queen, an' th' Art Treasures Eggshihishun. By ‘Oud John.’ Heywood: printed for the author, by John Heywood, Post Office. 1857. pp. ii., 32. Price 4d.
  9. ‘St. Luke's Old Church.’ By John Heywood. [A poem in 18 stanzas.] Printed by John Heywood. [1860.] Broadside.
  10. Hollowyoke un Infidelity: a dialogue between owd Edmun' un John, two Yewud chaps. J. Heywood, printer. pp. 8.
  11. The Heywood Sentinel and Social Reformer. No. I. April 1st 1881. Only a few numbers issued.
  12. Lecture on ‘Music, its uses and abuses,’ in Bethel-street schoolroom. [Heywood Advertiser, 1883.]