Clixby, Mr. & Mrs. Charles, of Gainsborough

Transcription of article published in the Primitive Methodist Magazine by Rev. Arthur Baldwin, F.R.G.S.

These are the friends who last year gave to our Missionary Society the sum of one thousand pounds, the full purchase price of the farm on the Kafue River, which is to be the home of our Central African Institute for the training of native teachers, and which, in recognition of their generosity, the Missionary Committee decided should be named the “Clixby Farm”

Mr. and Mrs. Clixby are no lovers of the limelight. They shrink from publicity, and would certainly disapprove of any parade of their generosity, unless they were assured it was done in the interests of missions, for the purpose of stimulating others to give. They are naturally retiring and modest, and it is quite a difficult task to get them to talk about themselves or their past. Still, five years’ association and fellowship with them have enabled me to pick up material enough to supply a brief sketch of them, and thus gratify a wish very widespread amongst our people to know something about them.

They have both seen their eightieth birthday, though nobody would guess it from their appearance, and on the anniversary of their next wedding-day will have been married fifty-five years.

Mr. Clixby is tall and slenderly built. He walks as erect as ever, does not need to use a stick, and appears to have no infirmity whatever. Only last year I saw him in the fields with his gun with all the ardour of a young sportsman. He is as active as most men fifteen to twenty years younger. Mrs. Clixby has not enjoyed such good health these late years, and is occasionally laid aside, though she is a long way from regarding herself as an invalid.

Mr. Clixby is a native of Lincolnshire, his birthplace being only a few miles from Gainsborough, whilst Mrs. Clixby’s native place is on the Yorkshire coast, not far from Hull. Neither of them had any material advantage in commencing life. After a meagre education Mr. Clixby went into farm service, and continued until he was nineteen years of age; then he picked up butchering, and went into business, to this adding the buying and selling of cattle and sheep, and won a splendid reputation for fairness and integrity. Those were the days before the cattle auction marts, and I have heard old farmers speak about Mr. Clixby regularly buying large numbers of stock, and taking them to Manchester Market to sell. Everybody believed in his uprightness, and trusted him implicitly.

Thirty-nine years ago he returned to his first love—farming—and took the Park House Farm, near Gainsborough, mentioned in George Eliot’s “The Mill on the Floss.” Nine years later they removed to Highfields, where they remained until last year, when they retired and went to live in Gainsborough.

I imagine they must have had well-nigh lifelong association with Primitive Methodism. In the early days they worshipped in the village chapel at Northorpe, Scotter Circuit. Immediately they came to Park House Farm they identified themselves with our Gainsborough Church, and have been amongst its most loyal supporters ever since. Their coming synchronised with the opening of the large and beautiful church in Trinity Street, of which Mr. Clixby is a trustee, as well as of the other two newer churches in the town.

They drove into town every Sunday for morning service, wet or fine, snow or shine, unless something very extraordinary was happening on the farm, and their presence and devoutness were always a help to the preacher. Now that they are living in the town they are able to get both morning and evening, and participate more fully in week-night meetings.

Geography is a study that Mr. Clixby has been very fond of. In the home there are large wall maps, with which he is quite familiar. They have travelled extensively, and carry delightful memories of a tour they made to Egypt and the Holy Land in company with the Rev. and Mrs. W.E. Walmsley, who were then travelling at Gainsborough. Only a little time before the outbreak of the War Mr. Clixby, with a friend, was enjoying a cruise in the Mediterranean.

For many years they have been generous subscribers to our Missionary Funds. All the rag-money and sales of milk, etc., to passers-by were added to swell their contribution year by year. In our African Missions they have taken a keen interest. The Stations are all marked on the large map. 

Some ten or twelve years ago, when the Rev. John Hall was travelling at Gainsborough, there was a farm offered us on the Zambesi, and in the event of its purchase it was intimated that cattle would be needed for it. This interested our friends, and one day Mr. Clixby told Mr. Hall that he should be glad to do something towards stocking the farm. The offer was communicated to the Missionary Committee, but the time was not ripe for the project, and so nothing came of it.

When the Kafue scheme was developed, and an appeal was made for help, Mr. Hall remembered Mr. Clixby’s former offer, mentioned it in the Hull District Missionary Committee, and was requested to go to Gainsborough and invite me to accompany him on a visit to Mr. Clixby.

We were both extremely delighted with the result of that interview, for we came away with a promise of one hundred pounds.

I had opportunities of further interesting conversations with Mr. Clixby about the scheme, and what it was likely to accomplish; and when he gave me the cheque for the one hundred pounds he excited my hopes of another big donation by saying that he and Mrs. Clixby would like to do something more, but could not decide yet what. 

I was delegate to the approaching Nottingham Conference, and was anxious to have some good news to carry to the Missionary Secretaries, so called to give them an opportunity of telling me what they had decided to do more. The only satisfaction I got was to come away with the impression that they were contemplating a much bigger gift than that already given.

The day after I left for Conference, my colleague, the Rev. W.E. Robson, met Mr. Clixby on his way to my house (he had misunderstood the day on which I was leaving) to tell me that he and Mrs. Clixby had decided to give other nine hundred pounds, and so make the gift into one thousand, the purchase price of the farm. My colleague sent me the news, which I was delighted to convey to the Conference.

Mr. and Mrs. Clixby have no children, but love them, and for thirty-eight years welcomed the Sunday scholars to their farm for the annual picnic.


Charles Clixby was born in the spring of 1838 at Southorpe, Lincolnshire, to parents Clark Clixby, who worked the land (1851), and Frances Hawcock. He was baptised on 3 June 1838 at Northorpe, Lincolnshire.

Census returns identify the following occupations for Charles.

  • 1851 scholar
  • 1861 police constable
  • 1871 butcher and cattle salesman
  • 1881 farmer of 277.5 acres employing 2 labourers
  • 1891 farmer
  • 1901 farmer
  • 1911 farmer

He married Martha Boyes (1836-1920) on 15 December 1862 at Hull, Yorkshire. Martha was born at Hollym, Yorkshire to parents John and Decima. She was baptised on 11 December 1836 at Hollym cum Withernsea and died on 12 January 1920 at Gainsborough.

Charles died on 19 June 1918 at Gainsborough, Lincolnshire. He left an estate valued in excess of £14,000.


Primitive Methodist Magazine 1917/492

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

No Comments

Start the ball rolling by posting a comment on this page!

Add a comment about this page

Your email address will not be published.