Alfred North was born in 1845 at London, England, the son of Charles North, a draper. He trained at Rawdon Baptist College and, in July 1869, was ordained to the pastorate of Harborne near Birmingham. He was called upon to succeed the Rev. J. Upton Davis at Hanover Street Baptist Church, Dunedin, and arrived in New Zealand in 1882. A competent and energetic organiser, North played an active part in the formation of the Baptist Union of New Zealand, being its president in 1884, 1886, and 1890. In 1885 he suggested a scheme for training Baptist ministers and, from 1890 to 1900, supervised this. In 1885, also, he was principally responsible for founding the Baptist Foreign Mission Society. He relinquished his work in Dunedin in August 1900 to assume oversight of the Baptist Church in Circular Road, Calcutta. After a few years there, however, he returned to New Zealand where he took charge of the church at Ponsonby and, later, that at Epsom, Auckland. About this time he rendered one of his greatest services to his denomination: this was the scheme he devised for providing annuities for aged and disabled ministers. North was deeply interested in the welfare of youth and was one of the founders of the Sunday School Union. In addition to his church duties he organised the Young People's Industrial Exhibition, held in Dunedin in 1898. Alfred North possessed marked literary gifts and produced several primers on religious subjects. He wrote in trenchant style, with a good command of vigorous English, and was founder and, for many years, editor of the New Zealand Baptist.
In 1869, in Wiltshire, England, North married Emma, daughter of the Rev. James Heritage. He had three sons and one daughter. The eldest son, John James North, followed him into the ministry, while his second son, Dr Charles North (1872–1955), was the first Baptist medical missionary to be sent from New Zealand to India – being stationed at Chandpur, in Eastern Bengal, where he founded a mission hospital.
After his retirement from the ministry in 1917, Alfred North returned to Dunedin where he died on 3 December 1924.
by Bernard John Foster, M.A., Research Officer, Department of Internal Affairs, Wellington.
- Road to Tomorrow, Beilby, G. T. (1957)
- Otago Daily Times, 4 Dec 1924 (Obit)
- Evening Star (Dunedin), 4 Dec 1924 (Obit).