The British Revival of 1859 – 1864
News of the American Revival soon hit the shores of Great Britain, and the first place to be affected was Ulster, and a mighty revival hit that place in 1859 with somewhere around 100,000 people converted which as a percentage of the people in that country was quite staggering.
Rev. J. White, a minister in Ulster was greatly used in the revival in Carrickfergus, and his brother Rev. Dr. Verner M. White, the minister of the Presbyterian Church in Islington, Liverpool, came back from visiting him to describe his experiences over there. In the summer of 1859 he held a gathering in the Common Hall, Hackins Hey, at the request of the Liverpool YMCA, to give an account of the revival. This became the origin of a great awakening in Liverpool.
About the same time as the Ulster Revival, and quite independently, Wales was also affected and a revival brought around 100,000 people to Christ. The revival began in Scotland in the north of the country but as time went on it spread down south, until it arrived in England. Around 300,000 people were converted in Scotland. The revivals in Ulster, Wales and Scotland, however, were somewhat different in character to that of most of England. In the former the revivals were more spontaneous, and most of the conversions occurred during the year of 1859.
A Preaching Revival in England
In England, however, the initial move was not quite as dramatic as in the other parts of the country, but within two years something different happened which resulted in large numbers of people coming to Christ. God raised up a large number of evangelists who travelled the length and breadth of the land preaching the gospel, and many thousands of people were brought into the kingdom by this means. By 1864 no less than 600,000 people were converted in England, bringing the total in the UK to over one million.
These UK revivals are not so widely known as the Welsh Revival of 1904 – 1905, but the flow of divine power throughout the land in 1859 – 1864 brought a very rich harvest of souls to God. Almost exactly 40 years later, when Evan Roberts began praying for Wales, he commented on how godless his land had become. It is said that the life force of a revival lasts only for a generation before conditions drift back once again.
It has been a long time since the UK has experienced a revival. Billy Graham’s ministry to the UK in his campaigns of 1954 and 1967 produced the last great harvest of souls. Many earnest believers now cry out for another divine intervention.
When it comes, it will be of a completely different character to revivals of the past.