Brooks, Elizabeth (nee Tasker) (1809-1900)
Transcription of Obituary In the Primitive Methodist Magazine by J.L. Brooks
Mrs. Elizabeth Brooks, who passed away on December 15th, 1900, was born at Ashby Puerorum, Lincolnshire, in 1809, thus living to the ripe old age of 91 years.
She was married in 1838, and lived in happy religious and domestic association for forty-two years, until 1880, when her husband was called to the higher life. As seen from above, she had to wait in widowhood for twenty years before her promotion came.
Her girlhood was passed in a time when the Primitive Methodists were making themselves felt as a reforming power in the country villages, and her young heart was reached by the simple yet powerful preachers of those times. At the age of seventeen she yielded herself to the Spirit’s influence and, in her own words, “was converted.”
Very soon, under the guidance, if not dictation, of one of the intrepid ministers, she began to preach. The minister who insisted on her preaching was a Mr. Butcher, who said, in answer to her objections that she had not the necessary ability, “You can read, can’t you? Well, make use of that talent, and if you haven’t brains of your own use other people’s, but preach you must.”
Thus urged she began, and was put on the plan when she was eighteen years of age. Soon the young female preacher won her way and was looked upon with favour by her people.
After some years she met Michael Brooks, who was also a local preacher, and who soon claimed the right to protect the young woman preacher, feeling that some peril attended her wherever she went, for in those days rough usage was often inflicted on those new gospellers.
This protection led to marriage and then life together for 42 years. They lived and worked together all the while in utter loyalty to the Church and in simple consecration to their Lord, united in hand, heart and service. They saw great experiences and endured great hardships.
The wife became a mother, but the parents had removed from them the two first born; other children were given until nine were counted to them, then the ninth and youngest was sent for to the Home above.
The remaining six grew up amid toil and poverty to manhood and womanhood, and long before she was called Home she had the joy of seeing all these married, and in each case to wives or husbands who were disciples of the Lord Jesus, and also several of her grandchildren walking in the way of the Lord.
Among her sons the eldest is a much-respected local preacher and Sunday school superintendent, and treasurer of the Central Hall, Bradford; the next has been for twenty-two years a Congregational minister, living in esteem among his brethren, and the youngest preceded his mother into the Glory Land by nine years, departing in faith, having his Christian fellowship with the Wesleyans.
The three daughters all married men respected and esteemed by the Christian peoples with whom they are in fellowship.
“Her children also rise up and call her blessed.”
Never were there truer Christians or more loyal Primitive Methodists than Michael and Elizabeth Brooks — simple, straight, sincere, and strong and wise, too, far above the average of their generation, God fearing, Sabbath-keeping and church-loving folk. Before him the swearer, the coarse and vulgar, hushed their noise and strife; the rich and influential were taught by the poor and lowly, and again and again profanity was silenced; and she was the spring which moved him.
It has been said that they came near enough to Carlyle’s “Peasant Saint ” to have satisfied even that exacting observer of men and things. For some best reason Providence limited their means to the lowest possible for the simplest succour of their household, and so great at times has been the pinch of poverty that the children have asked “Why the ‘weekly pence and shilling quarterly ’could not be spent in food?” To be answered that “We could do without butter to our bread, but that was the Lord’s money.”
That was typical of their whole life and all they did. Though the mother remained behind so long it is still impossible to think of all they did. Though the mother remained behind so long it is still impossible to think of them apart. One of her last utterances was, “Oh! I do not know how I shall contain myself when I meet your father again.”
It is believed that Mrs. Brooks was the oldest Primitive Methodist, but it would be interesting if this sketch called forth information from an older. She was in the society class for 74 years and on the plan 73 years, and all the while in the same circuit. When living on a little farm on Thornton Moor, the Circuit celebration of the Jubilee of Primitive Methodism was arranged to be held in one of their fields, but, alas for human hopes, a gale or wind spoiled the gala; the tents and marquees were blown inside out, and the preliminary arrangements so turned topsy-turvy that with regret the authorities had to adjourn to the more sheltered neighbourhood of Woodhall Spa.
But how cold and poor writing is to set forth the qualities of that nobly-endowed woman, with a mind so richly stored with the scriptures that her children called her their walking concordance, with an accuracy of quotation and aptness of application which has rarely been equalled and never could be surpassed. Indeed, she was a living Biblical treasury, and to her the “Pilgrim’s Progress” was more than an allegory, it was a history of palpitating experiences. Her heart was aglow with fervent heat in which love was purified and tempered until zeal was discreet. And so it came to pass that her spoken addresses were earnest, strong, and convincing, “thoughts that breathe, and words that burn,” and her prayers were often times like streams of lava, and at other times the pleadings and wrestlings of a genuine priest in the Holy Place with God.
It would be easy to fill a large space with last words such as a fortnight before she departed she spoke to her son, “It would never do to die having been deluded by a lie.’’
It is not of these, however, that her family and those who knew her best, think most, but much more of the 74 years of unwavering testimony and unfaltering service. None ever lived to whom love and deeds were more, and mere words less, than to Mrs. Brooks: and after all it does not so much matter how, when, or where we die, but everything depends on how we live.
We write for no other purpose than to glorify the grace of God in her, and so that the light shining through her may be a beacon to others. Her family need no memorial, but others reading “may take heart again.”
Elizabeth was born to parents Lawies, a farmer, and Mary.
She married Michael Brooks (1807-1880), a cottage farmer, on 24 december 1838 at ashby Puerorum, Lincolnshire. Census returns identify six children.
- Robert Horswood (1843-1923) – a railway guard (1891); later a railway inspector
- Mary Ann (1845-1919) – married James Impey, a railway guard, in 1874
- Susanna (b1848) – married John Kitchen, a farmer, in 1870
- Betsy Ann (1850-1936) – married George Cook, a saddler, in 1876
- Joseph Lawies (1852-1933) – a Congregational Minister
- Henry Allen (1853-1892) – a labourer
Primitive Methodist Magazine 1902/702
Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers