Miriam Barker (1819-1875); letter from her son to his granddaughter, Ethel Bossons

Echoes of Samuel; a miraculous rescue from the Talke Pit explosion; and returning to the Primitive fold

Supplied by Donald H. Ryan, September 2022

This letter was written by E Barker to his granddaughter, Ethel Bossons, when he heard that she had “gone over” from the Free Methodists to the Primitive Methodists.  The subject, Miriam, is my great, great, great grandma!  Ethel Bossons was employed by the Primitive Methodist Connexion as the first teacher of Sunday School teachers.  There is an article about her in one of the Connexional magazines.

Miriam Barker
Born at Betley July 1st 1819
Departed this life Feb 21st 1875
Buried at Talke Church.

She was your Grate Grammother.  A life long primitive Methodist.  She gave her hart to God when very young and lived a Christian life.  When married and had a family she used to kneel down every morning and ask God’s protection for each child during the day and then at Night would neil down to thank him for his love and care.  If any of the neabours were in at the hour of prayer she would say you may kneel down with us if you like.  But I am going to lock the door to prevent disturbance while at prayer. 

Thair were four girls and a boy.  I am the little boy that was very delicate and accustomed to fits.  Was often brought from school lapt up in a blanket been in fits.  Once I was in fits four hours at Talke National School.  Thay had me in a bath of warm water and the rector Mr Hutchison was pouring cold water on my head.  I was very bad that time.  It took my speech for a week.  When my little play mate came in to see me, Frank Alcock, my speech returned.  My mother prayed earnestly for me to be restored to health or else for the Lord to take me rather than I would grow up to be subject to the danger of fits.  Butt she said “Not my will butt thine be done.”  She placed me in the Lords’ hands.  What happened then.  Why thair came a voice to her in bed And said Give him rue and Cammomime three times.  She rubbed her eyes and went to sleep again.  It came again and repeted it three times.  She went to sleep again.  And it came a third time and repeted it three times.  Mother said that voice was like her own Mothers voice.  It was a message from God for her mother had been dead many years.  So when we were having our breakfast next morning an old woman knoct at the door selling herbs.  So Mother bought some Rue and Camomime and I have not had a Fit from that day to this.  Am now over sixty eight.  Many times God has protected me when I have been in grate danger.  When I was sixteen years old I was in that explosan which accord in the eight feet seam at North Stafford Colliery Talke.  When every one was killed in that part of the pit.  I was the last to come out alive.  I was stable lad then but I had gone along to see how a fresh pony was shaping and to help with it if required.  But it was working alright.  Something pressed me so forcabley to go back to stables at once out of that end.  So I did has soon as I was out that explosion went of and killed every man and boy and horse in the end.  I got up the pit in the first cage full and ran home to let my Mother see that God had taken care of me.  She dropped down on her knees in the middle of the floor and thanked and praised God for my safety.  Then another time I was just a Hares breath of being smothered when a lot of the roof where I was working fell.  Something seemed to say Jump up.  So I did and the stuff broke all around me and I was on the top not hurt.  But in the dark till my mate came.  He heard the fall and thought I was buried.  To his grate surprise I was not.  He said how had I escaped.  I said something told me to jump up and oft times I could see Gods love over me.

Well now I will tell you the reason you were a Free Methodist.  One Sunday two scholars when front of the Chapel were squaring of and sparring.  One was very much like me.  But it was not me.  One of the teachers saw them so the next Sunday in school the disgrace was laid on me and the teacher would not be convenced otherwise so I would not go to ither school or Chapel again at the primitives.  My mother was very much upset about it but she said I must never leve the Sunday School as long as I lived so I joined the Free Methodist.  Your grandfather Bossons was steward and the backbone.  Many grand times we have had at the little Church so I got married and my family were there, that is the reason you attended thair.

So I think you are quite alright with the primitives.  This may be some information for you.

   From your Grandad

            E Barker

Comments about this page

  • What an incredible letter! Do you have a photo of any of the family? Do you have a reference for the article on Ethel Bossons? I have checked the Primitive Methodist Magazine without success.

    By Jill Barber (19/05/2013)

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