Armitage, Elizabeth (nee Dodsworth) (1841-1875)

Transcription of Obituary in the Primitive Methodist Magazine by L.F.A.

ELIZBETH, the wife of Rev. L.J. Anmitage, and daughter of the late Rev. Jeremiah and Clara Dodsworth, was born at Bedford, March 17th, 1841. Committed to the care of such eminently pious parents, she was carefully trained in “the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” To those parents, who for some years have been numbered with the sainted dead, but whose names are yet “as ointment poured forth,” there was given the satisfaction of seeing their daughter grow up under the fostering influences of divine grace. Their devout prayers and holy lives exerted a salutary influence upon her, and in early life she was converted to God. This occurred about the age of twelve, when she became a member of the church as her class tickets testify.

Being an only daughter and possessing many excellent traits of character, she was quite a favourite in the family, and inherited the warm affection of her parents and brothers. Naturally possessed of a genial and lively temperament, she was as a centre of light and cheerfulness in the home circle, contributing not a little to its comfort and happiness.

Born in the ministry, and brought so frequently into contact with some of the most eminent and devout ministers of the Connexion who frequently visited her home, she early learnt to cherish a deep reverence for God’s servants, and a warm attachment to the church to which she belonged. There was inspired in her mind a spirit of loyalty to the Connexion which grew and intensified to the end of life.

Indelibly pourtrayed on her memory were those scenes in domestic life, when such sainted men as Clowes, Bourne, Petty, and Flesher frequented her home, and oft in later years would she refer to them with great delight. As soon as age and prudence permitted she began to work for Christ, The offices of Sunday-school teacher, tract distributor, missionary collector and prayer leader, were creditably and successfully filled by her. There was an honesty of purpose and whole-heartedness in all that she undertook, which widened the genuineness and fervour of her piety, and created a favourable impression upon all among whom she lived and laboured. Such were her sincerity and earnestness of purpose that anything that did not bear the stamp of truth and genuineness, anything done in a dubious, half-hearted manner, was distasteful, and contrary to her disposition. She deemed no service too arduous, no gift too valuable, for Christ, but was ever ready to give herself and her all to him.

On July 8th, 1863, the subject of this sketch became united in marriage with the Rev. L.J. Armitage. Having been brought up in the itinerancy there were both that necessary sympathy and experience that rendered her a most valuable help-meet to her husband. None can tell but he how much the church and the world in his humble labours are indebted to her. She was at once a worthy companion in the tribulation and kingdom of Jesus Christ, a faithful and trustworthy counsellor in the time of perplexity, and a willing, cheerful helper in the hour of need. Her life and labours in this capacity were of a quiet unassuming kind, but none the less earnest and real. Possessing a retiring disposition she shrank from posts of prominence and preferred both doing and giving in harmony with the Saviour’s teaching, “Let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth.” The day of eternity only will declare the extent of her faithful service in the cause of Christ. As to the heartiness of her labour, those stations where she lived can testify; and those who knew her best know with what zeal she performed her work, and that often so as to severely tax her strength.

To her it was a true delight and “a labour of love.” At Newcastle-on-Tyne, Bishop Auckland, Motherwell, Sunderland, and Edinburgh, places where she was well known, by her amiable disposition and her many Christian excellences she won a numerous circle of warm hearted friends, in whose esteem and affection she continues to live, and by whom her loss has been keenly felt. From a multitude of letters of condolence to her bereaved husband we give the following tributes of respect.

Rev. W. Lister writes: “I had not the pleasure of an acquaintance with Mrs. Armitage, but from what I have heard I formed a high opinion of her piety.”

Rev. W. Dent says: “You have lost a most desirable partner in the joys and sorrows of life, a very suitable woman for a minister’s wife, whose memory is highly worthy of affectionate remembrance by all who knew her, and still more by those who knew her excellent father and mother, to whom she is now reunited in ‘the Better Land.’”

Another friend sends the following: “You have lost a partner whose amiability of character won for her friends wherever she went. It is consoling to find that her prospects during her trials were so bright and pleasing, and that she was sustained by Divine grace to endure the trying ordeals she was called to pass through. We knew that no couple were ever more equally yoked; how nobly she co-operated with you in your efforts to promote the interests of the Redeemer’s kingdom! What self-denial, patience, perseverance, and faith she exercised! Verily, no one that was acquainted with her when she lived in the enjoyment of health could fail to admire her many excellences. Well might the Scriptures say, ‘The memory of the just is blessed.’ ”

For some six or seven years she suffered greatly from a bronchial affection, and occasionally from other ailments that weakened her constitution. Not the least painful part of this experience was the forced privation of the means of grace. Often, however, she had gracious seasons at home, and sometimes would say, that she had the comforting reflection that God knew the cause of her absence, and that she had served him by a regular attendance when she was able. Through long seasons of pain and weariness, she had great need of patience. Notwithstanding all the medical skill and appliances that could be brought to bear, the disease seemed to become more deeply rooted, and though at times gave flattering hopes, it found its way to the more vital parts, and developed into pulmonary consumption.

In the spring of 1875, she had a long and serious attack, but by diligent medical application the disease seemed to be mastered, and it was thought with care she might live a few more years. In the summer she was so far recovered as to pay a visit to her old friends in Sunderland and Newcastie-on-Tyne. Anxiously did her husband and friends look for an improvement, but in vain. The fearful wasting process seemed to go on day by day, and many kind friends who visited her, saw too plainly that the end was drawing near; it was feared she might not live to reach home. In the midst of all, while loving friends were sad, she maintained a cheerful spirit, and would often sing some of her favourite hymns in the spirit of Christian hope and gladness, while others, whom she wished to join her, were more inclined to weep in the thought that soon they would see “her face no more.”

A week after her return home, her medical adviser was called in, who found such a change, that he considered it his duty to inform her that there was no hope of recovery. As was to be expected, this was a shock to herself and friends. Being a good Christian, the doctor enquired if her spiritual interests were secure, if she could point to the time and place her sins were forgiven, and if she had the witness of the Spirit? to which she could give an unhesitating reply in the affirmative. From this period her strength rapidly declined, so that in a week’s time she was confined to bed. After heavy night sweats and exhausting fits of coughing, she was wont to say:-

“A few more storms of wind and rain,
And winter will be gone.”

To her three brothers who were sent for from a considerable distance, and other friends who came to pay the last visit, she spoke of the certainty that she was “going home,” and most earnestly requested them to promise to meet her in heaven. For eight weeks she lay wasting away, yet in the midst of great weakness and weariness she was graciously sustained. She used to remark “how mercifully God had dealt with her, in gently taking down the tabernacle, first loosing one pin, and then another.” Many were the blessed seasons she enjoyed. The sting of death was completely withdrawn, and her experience afforded the grandest practical testimony of the reality and sufficiency of the Christian religion. Often was it to those who visited her “a privilege beyond the common walks of virtuous life, quite on the verge of heaven.” Many were the celestial visions that were granted, during which sometimes she was conscious of the presence of her sainted father and mother, and other departed friends, with an innumerable company of angels. This often made her room to be as heaven’s ante-chamber. On one occasion which will never be forgotten by those present, with a surpassing energy and a more than earthly sweetness, she sang-

“He is my Prophet, Priest, and King,
And while I’ve breath I mean to sing,
Christ for me, Christ for me.”

She requested those around to unite with her, but not one could comply; all were melted to tears. To her sorrowing husband she sought to give comfort and encouragement, and especially counselled diligence, urged him to preach Christ faithfully, and dwelt on the hope of a happy re-union in heaven. Many are the pious utterances treasured up in the memories of those who found it to be a rich means of grace to be with her both by night and day.

Not a few were struck with her complete self-abnegation; she seemed to forget her own sufferings and needs in her anxiety for the well-being of others. Of death she spoke with as much composure as one about to take a journey. She literally fulfilled the Scriptures, “Set thine house in order,” in the most minute arrangement of domestic matters, and like one of old who “gave commandment concerning his bones,” making most complete preparation for her interment. She had got all ready in her spiritual concerns, and could therefore afford to settle all temporal things. After so many weeks of lingering, the end at last came. Though in some of the last days she seemed occasionally to lose consciousness, a few moments before her departure, when the power of speech was gone, she opened her eyes and gave a look of recognition to her husband. At mid-day on November 4, she breathed out her soul to God, while the noonday sun flooded the room with a bright light, emblematic of her happy state, and of the glory of the upper sanctuary into which she was entering. In harmony with her expressed wish most peacefully did her life ebb out; so gradually did she expire that we could not be certain for some minutes whether she had gone; of her as of Stephen may it be said, she “fell asleep.” On Monday, November 8, a numerous and respectable body of friends came together to pay their last tribute of respect, among whom were two Wesleyan ministers, one U. Methodist Free Church, one Established Church of Scotland, one Free Church, one U.P. Church, and one Primitive Methodist. The burial service was performed by Rev. J. Bush, Wesleyan superintendent, and Rev. P. Carrick, Primitive. Amid the tears of many loving and sorrowful friends the precious remains were committed to the dust “in sure and certain hope of a glorious resurrection.” The quiet resting-place is in the beautiful Grange Cemetery, Edinburgh, where are found the tombs of Drs. Chalmers, Guthrie, and a host of other departed worthies. “She sleeps in Jesus.”

Family

Elizabeth was born on 17 March 1841 at Bedford, Bedfordshire.

She married Lewis Frederick Armitage (1838-1903) on 8 July 1863 at Wakefield, Yorkshire.

Elizabeth died on 4 November 1875 at Edinburgh, Scotland.

References

Primitive Methodist Magazine 1877/299

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

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