Brethren Archive

Henry Groves

Born: 1st November 1818
Died: 2nd July 1891
Appears in Groves / Muller / Baynes Family Tree

Intro, Biographical Information, Notes etc:

Chief Men Among The Brethren Biography

Henry Groves, the eldest son of Anthony Norris Groves, missionary to Persia and India, was born at Exeter, in Nov., 1818. Together with his brother Frank, who was a little more than a year his junior, he had for his earliest teacher, Mr. Henry Craik, afterwards so well known in connection with Mr. George Muller, of Bristol, and was linked up with Lord Congleton, Dr. Cronin, and other devoted servants of God.

He was ten years old, and his brother was nine, when they accompanied their parents and John Kitto through St. Petersburg and Moscow to Bagdad. They commenced their travels in May, 1829, and continued them till December. The fatigue and danger of that long journey early taught the boys to endure hardness; but those travelling experiences were as nothing to what lay in store for them at their destina­tion. In April of the following year, the plague broke out in Bagdad, and the mortality often considerably exceeded a thousand a day. Fifty unburied corpses might be seen during a walk of 500 yards, and the wails of naked and starving children who roamed the streets were heart-break­ing. When this calamity was at its height, an inundation of the river took place. Upwards of 5000 houses crumbled, and in many cases crushed the inhabitants, but a small strip of rising ground at the end of their street saved the mission­ary's family from the water entering their dwelling. Mrs. Groves had died of the plague, and the stricken household presently found themselves, after the subsiding of the water, threatened with another danger - the doomed city was besieged by a Turkish army. Bullets were constantly flying overhead as they slept on the house-top, and bands of robbers broke once and again into the house, carrying off whatever they chose. During all this time the necessities of life had risen to an enormous price, and the food so dearly purchased had to be eaten at night and in the cellar, to prevent its falling into the hands of the lawless and starving mob.

At length deliverance came, and also fresh missionaries from England. The boys' deaf tutor (afterwards the celebrated Dr. Kitto) returned home, and the friends who arrived took up their education to some extent; but so terrible were the experiences of those days, that Mr. H. Groves said that after leaving England, he cannot remember that he was a boy at all.

The brothers continued in Persia till 1834, when they went to India and joined their father in heroic efforts to establish a self-supporting mission. Converts among the Hindus becoming outcasts, it was thought by farming, silk, and other industries to give them some means of livelihood. Partly through inexperience, but more on account of the impossibility of producing profitably alongside of native labour, these schemes failed one after another.

After ten or twelve years Mr. A. N. Groves' health broke down, and he came to England in 1852, and died in the house of his brother-in-law, Mr. George Muller. Meanwhile Mr. Henry and Mr. Frank Groves had been appointed jointly superintendents of a sugar-refining factory in south India. For many years this prospered very fairly in their hands, but, after 1857 (the year of the mutiny), the price of the raw material rose to double what it had previously been, and was no longer remunerative.

During that year Mr. H. Groves had visited England, and Ireland, and also America, and was deeply impressed with the work of revival which he witnessed. He longed to be free to give himself wholly to the work of the Gospel, and the way for this was made plain in 1862, when the Indian factory was sold to a native firm without occasioning loss to the original shareholders.

The following year found Mr. Groves commencing the service on which he had set his heart in Bristol, and in 1868 he paid a visit to Kendal, for a few weeks as he thought, but here he settled, and though constantly travelling over the United Kingdom in the service of the Gospel, during the following three-and-twenty years it never ceased to be his home; and here he fell asleep on Thursday afternoon, 2nd July, 1891, after some fourteen months' illness. In May, 1890, a chill he took brought to light a serious state of vital organs in the form of a sudden paralytic weakness.

In the midst of family life, and in what he still could do of pastoral and teaching work, did he "finish his course," as he had, by God's grace, and by God's special calling to public ministry, in early life begun it.

Marty said ...
FALLEN ASLEEP. — At Greenside, Kendal, December 20th, 1893, KATE, widow of the late HENRY GROVES, aged seventy-five. Though in much weakness for some years before her husband's departure, she survived him by nearly two years and a half. At her burial, the blameless tenor of her life was testified of by her brother-in-law, who said that during the forty years he had known her he did not remember her having spoken evil of any one. "Echoes of Service" 1894
Saturday, Feb 2, 2019 : 08:05
E. Jones said ...

Is it possible to get on line "Darbyism: Its rise, progress & development" by H. Groves ?

Thank you
Thursday, Mar 2, 2023 : 05:08
Mark said ...

I have a photocopy of Henry Groves 'Darbyism: its rise, progress & development' and it allowed me to assess the version of history claimed by leaders in the Open Brethren. 

Having been brought up in OB, baptised on my "confession of faith" and having entered into fellowship and being with them for a couple of decades, I frequently heard how bad a man J N Darby was - at least in their estimation based on Mr Groves' version of history. It seems his wife spoke in different tones than those in which her husband wrote. 

As earnest and devoted to missionary work as the Groves family were, and for that are to be well commended, they had a concept of the church and churches very different to that of Mr Darby. Hence, I suggest, they never understood one another in relation that important matter, and there would be sooner or later a parting of the ways. However, personal animosity is quite another thing. 

My advice is that other accounts concerning Mr Darby need to be studied carefully before taking everything that Mr Groves says in it for granted.

Thursday, Mar 2, 2023 : 20:59
Syd said ...

Mr A.N. Groves (father of Henry Groves) was indeed a remarkable servant of God. In his well-known letter to JND (, he wrote—“Was not the principle we laid down as to separation from all existing bodies at the outset, this: that we felt ourselves bound to separate from all individuals and systems, so far as they required us to do what our consciences would not allow, or restrained us from doing what our consciences required, and no further? and were we not as free to join and act with any individual, or body of individuals, as they were free not to require us to do what our consciences did not allow, or prevent our doing what they did? and in this freedom did we not feel brethren should not force liberty on those who were bound, nor withhold freedom from those who were free?”

Mr Darby wrote about the conscience to this effect—“When a person makes his own conscience the measure of right and wrong, he sinks to the level by which he measures it; indeed he has already sunk there morally.” The point being that the only standard against which our conscience as believers should be measured, is the Word of God—the whole counsel of God.

Friday, Mar 3, 2023 : 04:24

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