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The Somborne & District Society

Somborne's Pioneering American Colonist






In 2019, the biography of Kings Somborne's most famous Methodist Minister will be published to mark the 150th anniversary of Wakefield, the city he founded In Kansas, USA


THE REVEREND RICHARD WAKE (1831 -1915 )


Somborne's Pioneering American Colonist


By Gordon Pearson


The author, a keen local historian, has researched the early life of Richard Wake who was born In King's Somborne in 1831 and emigrated to America in 1854. Upon his return to the UK in 1866, he preached the advantages of emigration and persuaded 115 men, women and children to accompany him to a newly founded colony In Nebraska named Palmyra, In 1869, he founded the English colony of Wakefield In Kansas. Both cities survive. Gordon reveals Richard's extraordinary life which  includes:



  • His family background from its roots In Exton, Hampshire

  • Richard's childhood and education In Somborne, Stockbridge and Houghton

  • His role as a Methodist reformer in the mid 19 th century In Hampshire and In Northamptonshire

  • A family move to Poole and then to Millbrook, Southampton together with the opportunities they gave

  • His meeting with Sarah Attwood who became his wife

  • The call of the New World


He also tells the story of Richard's life In America as a family man, where he travelled and preached and his eventual move to the west coast. It Includes:



  • His Journey across the Atlantic Ocean to America

  • The wagon train he organised across the prairie to Nebraska and threats from native Americans

  • The founding and laying out of the city of Wakefield, Kansas

  • The first British immigrants

  • Early life In Wakefield and its development

  • His spiritual life as a senior man of the Methodist Church


With 24 photographs and 3 drawings and maps, Gordon Pearson has written a lively and informative history which is based on the transcribed diaries of Richard Wake. The history of Richard's early life in Hampshire and Dorset is well researched and Illustrated. It includes family genealogy, all members of which eventually emigrated to America.


This book will be of use to those interested in the development of Methodism in 19th century England, those whose forebears emigrated to America and those who admire the spirit and courage of a highly successful self­ made man who came from a humble background.


About the author: Gordon Pearson is a retired Chartered Surveyor and Historic Buildings Consultant. His first book “The Conservation of Clay and Chalk Buildings" was published by Donhead in 1992 and his second book "Up Somborne and Rookley: The History of a Small Rural Hampshire Community" was published In 2016. He has studied the history of Hampshire’s mid Test Valley for forty years and writes  regularly for the  newsletters of the Somborne and District Society


"The Reverend Richard Wake (1831·1915) Somborne's Pioneering American Colonist" by Gordon Pearson Price £8.00 (plus £2.00  p&p if required) ISBN 978-0-9515110·8-4 Paperback 65 pages 27 Illustrations A4


PUBLICATION DATE: Spring 2019


For further Information, or to purchase copies, please contact gpearson709@btinternet.com




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