Brittain, Christopher (1826-1898)
Transcription of Obituary In the Primitive Methodist Magazine by Gervase Hall
THE death of Mr. Christopher Brittain, which took place at his residence at Wyboston, on Monday, April 4, 1898, in his seventy-third year, will be a heavy loss to our small society there on this, the St. Neots Circuit, as he had been an active worker in connection with the Sunday School and Society since he came to reside there eighteen years ago, having occupied the position of chapel steward, society steward and Sunday School superintendent till illness compelled him to give up the last-named office. Deceased was born in the town of Potton, Beds, but eventually removed to Eaton Socon, where he became the first Primitive Methodist convert, in an old bakehouse we then occupied, over forty-one years ago, and was made the first steward of our society there. Before his conversion he was a great drunkard and fighting character, but a great change now came over him, and he who had been so zealous in the service of the devil, became a devoted follower of the meek and lowly Jesus. He was soon put upon the plan, and for over forty years continued on it and rendered faithful and efficient service as a local preacher whilst health and strength permitted him to do so. After a short time spent at Eaton he removed to Great Staughton, where he was the means of helping to establish a society and build a chapel, but afterwards removed to Wyboston, where he completed his earthly course.
In each place where he lived since his conversion he has left blessed memories behind him, as an upright, sincere and devoted follower of Christ. His zeal was manifest to all, and his labours were very abundant. As a local preacher, Sunday School and Temperance worker, class-leader and society steward, he laboured hard to benefit his fellows, and to make the world purer and brighter. Several stories are told of his fervour and outspokenness as a preacher of the word. On, one occasion he spoke so powerfully on the text, “Lay not up for yourselves treasure upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal,” Matt. vi. I9, 20, that a woman at the close of the service asked him, “Who told you that the moths had got into my blankets?” He was very fond of open air and revival work, and several times conducted mission services at various places on the circuit, besides walking thousands of miles to his ordinary appointments on what was then a wide country station. His work on the circuit did not lack appreciation, for several times he was honoured by being sent as the representative of the circuit to the District Meeting. He was a liberal supporter of the cause of God, and his house was always open to the servants of the Master. He rejoiced in the company of God’s people, and when unable through illness to attend the house of the Lord, nothing pleased him better than a visit from one of his fellow-travellers to Zion. His kindness and his generosity, as well as his uprightness of character, will long be remembered wherever he dwelt. He always liked to speak a kind word to his fellows, and to do a kind act as far as possible, and ever sought to carry out the gospel rule, “All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.”
To the last he took a deep interest in the welfare of the Church with which he was connected, making constant inquiries as to its doings, and delighting to hear of its successes, and when unable to attend the house of God and take an active part in its services, he would still pray for its prosperity. The home-life of our departed brother was bright and beautiful, and had a blessed influence there. His prayers, his teaching, and his example were not lost upon his children, for he lived to see all of them devote themselves to the Lord, and become useful in the Master’s service. Especially did our brother find his religion to be a solace and a support to him in his long and severe afflictions. For some six years he suffered greatly at intervals from chronic bronchitis and asthma, with weakness of the heart, but grew much worse in January last, and suffered more and more till the end came. In the midst of it all he showed great patience, and was always found calmly trusting in God and submissive to His will, though he could not understand at times why the Lord tarried so long. He had no dark clouds, his sky was clear and his prospects bright for eternity. He feared not the approach of death, but looked forward to it as a welcome visitor. More than once he told the minister who visited him that his feet were on the Rock of Ages. He sent word to one of the local preachers not to pray for his life to be spared, as he longed to depart and be with Christ, which was far better. The songs of Zion greatly delighted him. A few Sabbaths before his death he had the scholars of our Sabbath School to sing to him two of his favourite hymns, “I’m kneeling at the threshold,” and “Thou Shepherd of Israel and mine,” and also asked his wife to sing to him the day before he died, “My Jesus, I love Thee,” and “When I survey the wondrous cross.” One who visited him the same day said as he was leaving him, “Poor soul,” to which he replied, “ No, I am a rich soul.” He rejoiced in having a clear title to the heavenly inheritance, not through any merit of his own, but through faith in the blood of Christ. He said to his friends the day before his death, “The blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, cleanseth from all sin.” On several occasions he said he saw the angels hovering round. His last words were, “Peace, perfect peace,” and thus he passed away at noon to the heavenly city where there is no night, but one eternal day. He was interred on Saturday afternoon, the 9th of April, in Eaton Socon Churchyard, a short service having been previously held in our own chapel at Wyboston, conducted by the Rev. Gervase Hall, circuit minister, who also officiated at the grave. A great number of sorrowing relatives and friends followed the remains of our departed brother to their last resting-place, where they were laid to sleep till the great resurrection morn.
The Sunday afternoon following, at 2.30, a memorial sermon was preached in our Chapel at Wyboston by the Rev. G. Hall, when a large and sympathetic congregation assembled to hear the Word, and were deeply impressed by it.
Christopher was born in 1825 at Potton, Bedfordshire, to parents John, a gardener, and Judith. He was baptised on 12 September 1825 at Potton.
Census returns identify the following occupations for Christopher.
- 1851 gardener’s labourer
- 1861 gardener
- 1871 market gardener
- 1881 farmer of 13acres employing two men
- 1891 market gardener
Christopher married Mary Carter (1822-1875) on 28 January 1846 at Potton, Bedfordshire. Census returns identify six children.
- Judith (1846-1929) – married Joseph Shaw, a blocker (hats), in 1867; married Benjamin Sharp, a straw hat blocker, in 1885
- John (abt1849-1856)
- Elizabeth (1850-1931) – married John Bartram, a farmer, in 1870
- Martha (1856-1884) – married George William Brittain in 1882
- George (1859-1915) – a market gardener
- Richard Lazenby (abt1861-1928) – an agricultural labourer (1901)
Christopher married Louisa Richardson, nee Green (abt1827-1884) in the spring of 1875 in the St. Neots Registration District.
Christopher married Sarah Gillings (b abt1840) in the summer of 1884 in the St. Neots Registration District.
Primitive Methodist Magazine 1901/229
Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers