Fishing for Souls: The Development and Impact of British Fishermen’s Missions

By Stephen Friend

A social history of the churches’ missions to fishermen in Britain, charting their successes and setbacks from the nineteenth century onwards.

ISBN: 9780718895143


Fishing for Souls explores the origins and development of fishermen’s missions in Britain, focussing particularly on the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Stephen Friend establishes “an historical outline of the development of the churches’ work among British fishing communities and explores why a mission specifically concerned with fishermen was not initiated until the industry entered a period of economic decline during the early 1880s. The factors relating to the development of British fishermen’s missions are complex, involving not only social and technological changes inside and outside the fishing industry, but also changing theological perceptions that had a significant impact on attitudes to social conditions”.

With its honesty and objectivity, especially concerning developments that were difficult and painful for the fishermen’s mission societies at the time, Fishing for Souls reveals the magnificent work that the various societies did, and in some cases continue to do.

Additional information

Dimensions 234 × 156 mm
Pages 306
Illustrations b&w

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Trade Information LPOD

About the Author

Dr Stephen Friend FRSA has a PhD from the University of Hull. His main areas of research have included the history, theology, anthropology and the psychology of religion. He was a joint founder in 1990 of the International Association for the Study of Maritime Mission (IASMM). He is a Winston Churchill Fellow and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.


Illustrations and Charts
Abbreviations and Glossary


1. The Development of the British Fishing Industry
2. The Social and Theological Context
3. Fishing for Souls, 1800-1856
4. Fishing for Souls, 1856-1880
5. Fishing for Souls, 1880-1900
6. The ‘Devil’s Mission Ships’
7. Medical Work at Sea
8. Enebezer Joseph Mather: Resignation
9. The Roman Catholic Concern for Seafarers and Fishermen
10. Missions Influenced by the RNMDSF
11. Conclusion




Endorsements and Reviews

Stephen has made the history of the churches and their work with British fishermen his own. Starting as a junior employee on the staff of one of the societies about which he writes so well, he began what became a lifelong study of the history of his subject, on the way uncovering inspired pioneers, drug smuggling, storms, cooked books and fascinating statistics. I have known Stephen’s work for forty or so years and I can say for anyone interested in the sea in this period, reading this book is a ‘must’.
Robert W.H. Miller, author of One Firm Anchor

Maritime Mission is often an undervalued and overlooked ministry of the church. This fine academic study of our roots and growth gives a fascinating insight and picture of our visionary founding fathers who, despite their failings, brought about a Christian witness that continues today to respond to the needs of seafaring communities.
Paul Jarrett MBE, Former Mission Secretary, Royal National Mission to Deep Sea Fishermen

In Fishing for Souls, we meet the many different societies and individuals who dedicated themselves to the service of fishers. Friend’s history is rich with detail, but also conveys the many challenges and motivations in this field of work. This wonderful study testifies to the reasons for which vibrant fishers missions can still exist in our time.
Jason Zuidema, General Secretary, International Christian Maritime Association