Burke, Mary (nee Garbutt) (1821-1849)

Transcription of obituary published in the Primitive Methodist Magazine by John Burke

Mrs. Mary Burke, was born at Hurworth, in Teesdale, on June 12th, 1821; and on August 2nd, 1849, she departed this life, at Alloa, in Scotland. When twelve years of age, she was deprived of her affectionate father, to whom and her mother she had been kind and obedient; and keenly she felt the bereavement. She could not remember the time when the Holy Ghost did not strive with her; yet she was not brought to Christ till she was about fourteen years of age, when a revival of the work of God broke out among our people at Hurworth. 

The lady with whom she lived at the time, being connected with the Church of England, and decidedly opposed to Dissenters, strove to prevent her from attending religious worship among the Primitive Methodists, urging that it was not “necessary to make such a fuss about religion, that when she was baptized her sins were pardoned, and that as she had never done any harm, all that was needful was to attend the church, receive the sacrament, and pay her just debts,” and that doing these, “she would fare well enough at last.” So anxious was the lady to dissuade her from her purpose, that she wept over her, and said, “I could have trusted with you uncounted gold; but since you have associated with those noisy and self-righteous people, I cannot trust anything with you.” In the midst of every hindrance, however, the deceased clave unto the Lord, and the people of her choice, saying, “This people shall be my people, and their God my God.” The lady, finding that she could not succeed by persuasion, then threatened to turn the deceased away; and being still unable to move her, the threatning was executed. The deceased being now at home with her mother, who is one of our members, she was enabled to attend to her religious duties without interruption; and thenceforth, her course was onward, strengthened by the grace of God, and looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of her faith, she ran with patience the race set before her. 

She was humble, modest, much in prayer, and enjoyed close communion with God. Though she loved to read such books as Milner’s History of the Church, D’ Aubigné’s History of the Reformation, the Lives of Miss H. More and Mrs. Ellis, and the Commentary of Dr. A. Clark, yet she never allowed them to occupy the time and attention which were due to domestic and family affairs. She was a pattern of order and neatness in her house and dress, and, agreeably with the apostolic direction, she “showed piety at home.” Under the ministry of the word she had great delight, and always. preferred sermons which were useful before those which were chiefly showy or ornamental. When a preacher gave a clear and faithful description of man as a sinner, of Christ as the Saviour, of the Holy Spirit as our sanctifier, and of entire holiness as attainable in this life by faith in Christ Jesus, the preaching was sure to refresh her soul. With her piety was not merely a name, it was the malnspring of every action; and her conduct in the various relationships life, as a tender wife, a good mother an obliging neighbour, and a faithful friend, was regulated by its holy influence. She was a thorough Primitive Methodist—a Methodist from principle, — and while giving the right hand of fellowship to Christians of every name, she preferred her own sect and used her influence to promote its interests. 

Though never strong in constitution, yet she enjoyed tolerable health until about fourteen months ago. I was then stationed for Whitehaven circuit, and she was never well during the period of our sojourn there. A severe attack of illness reduced her strength so much that her life was in jeopardy; but she evinced much pious resignation. Having long before given her all to Jesus, she felt that she had not salvation to seek when its consolations were most needed. Religion supported her mind when all other sources failed.

In July last, after reaching our new station, the Alloa Mission, in Scotland, my dear partner was in good spirits, and pleased with our sphere of labour; but, oh, how unsearchable are the ways of God! in less than a month a premature confinement put an end to her life. Among the last words which escaped her lips were these: “Walking in all his ways they find their heaven on earth begun.” I and my three small children have, through her removal, sustained a heavy loss; but the Lord is my portion, and I hope the children will be trained for the place of mansions where dwells their sainted mother.


Mary was born on 12 June 1821 at Hurworth, Darlington, Co. Durham.

She married John Burke (b abt1817), a PM minister, in the summer of 1841 at Darlington, Co. Durham. Census returns identify two children.

  • Emma (b1845)
  • Ann (b abt1848)

Mary died on 2 August 1849 at Alloa, Scotland.


Primitive Methodist Magazine 1849/699

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

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