Capewell, George (1832-1904)

Transcription of Obituary in the Primitive Methodist Magazine by Joseph Maland

Sheffield Primitive Methodism, and a large circle of friends, has suffered a very heavy loss, in the passing to the life beyond, of one of its noblest helpers, the late Mr. George Capewell, who was long and honourably associated with Bethel Church, Sheffield I. Circuit. He was born in the year 1832, and early in life became a scholar in the Sunday School, and during special services therein at the age of sixteen he consecrated heart and life to Christ and His service. Throughout his after career he was prominently associated with Bethel Church, until illness prevented active service, as a teacher, trustee, class-leader, chapel treasurer and society steward. He had an unbroken church membership of fifty-six years, an unique distinction also shared by his devoted and faithful wife, who still remains in the Church’s fellowship. He was highly esteemed by all the members, and gained the perfect confidence of his official comrades by the promptitude, care, skill, and efficiency with which be discharged the varied duties of his offices to their highest satisfaction.

Mr. CapewelI’s interests were not however confined to his own circuit nor to Sheffield Primitive Methodism, although their claims ever came first. He had a wide outlook and was greatly interested in all the concerns of our church and ever sought to advance her weal by his generosity and excellent service; especially was he interested in the work of our African missions and the Connexional Orphanage, being a liberal supporter thereof and encouraging his family to aid those worthy causes.

His home life was ideally beautiful, it was a centre of love, tenderness and peace. Father and mother lived the Christly life, its fragrance permeated every department of their family life and the members thereof early learned to love the things that are pure, lovely, and of good report; they lived in the atmosphere of religion – a religion that was sincere, virile, cheerful, and eminently winsome. The home was ever open to the ministers and laymen of our church, many of whom shared its bright social intercourse and generous hospitality, and treasure grateful remembrances of joyous fellowship. The best traditions and loftiest principles of Primitive Methodism were kept before the attention of his children and fervent loyalty to our church engendered good results, for four of his daughters and two of his sons are associated with our churches, one daughter the devoted wife of the steward of Abbeydale Church, another daughter the wife and noble helper of one of our ministers.

Our departed friend was possessed old excellent business aptitude, and freely gave of his ability to the service of the church. Many official positions were open to him, but he never sought such appointments, caring little for the honours of office, only accepting place and power from a sense of duty and deep responsibility, recognising that each member is bound to do his utmost for the church of his choice. For many years he was a highly esteemed member of the Sheffield District Committee, and represented his circuit at the district meeting on one or two occasions, and was also a member of the Tunstall Conference.

In the city of Sheffield he was greatly respected by members of all sections of the community, his splendid business ability and sterling character marking him out as one specially qualified for work on the city council, for which service his aid was sought, but with characteristic modesty he declined the honour, preferring to work in less public ways for his church and the general good of the community, lending a hand whenever he had the opportunity to uplift and bless.

Seventeen years ago he was compelled to give up business on account of increasing infirmity, and many of his public duties had to be regretfully relinquished, but there was no diminution of interest in good works nor neglect of their performance, as he had opportunity. His physical sufferings were often very severe, but they were borne with exemplary patience, his love of Christ and goodness was a growing experience, and to all who knew him intimately there was evident a steady growth in saintliness and sweetness, goodness and grace. He was of the glorious company of those to whom Edmund Waller’s words apply :
“The soul’s dark cottage, battered and decayed
Lets in new light through chinks that time hath made;
Stronger by weakness, wiser men become
As they draw near to their eternal home,
Leaving the old, both worlds at once they view
That stand upon the threshold of the new.”

The end had been long foreshadowed, yet it seemed to come swiftly and unexpectedly. Towards the dawn of the last day of 1904 it was evident that the Master’s call had come, and ere the day closed the servant passed away in the company of Him whom he had so long dearly loved and faithfully and gladly served. He was perfectly ready and proved the truth of that wise statement of Erasmus, “No man can die badly who has lived well.” Jesus called, and he followed, entering the chamber of Peace, and from thence passing into the Palace Beautiful to the “bosom of deathless love,” waking from the dream of earth to the limitless life of heaven.

The bereaved widow and family received many expressions of sorrow and tributes of loving appreciation from laymen and ministers of our church, including the President of the Conference, the Rev. R. Harrison, and from members of other denominations. The interment took place at Sheffield General Cemetery on Wednesday, January 4th, and was attended by a large and representative gathering. A tender, reverent, and beautiful service was conducted by the Rev. W. Cutts, assisted by the Revs. P. Nume and S.A. Barron. So we said farewell until “the day breaks and the shadows flee away,” deeply sorrowing, but not without grateful thought concerning the larger life our loved one has entered. Wordsworth, we are told, frequently spoke of death as if it were the taking of a degree in the university of life. So we delight to think of our departed friend as living the larger and more abundant life. We know it is well with him. May we all meet again in the Better Land, and join the family circle in our Father’s home.


George was born in Sheffield, Yorkshire, to parents John, a cutter, and Jane. He spent his working life as a pork butcher.

He married Emma Rodgers (1836-1912) in the summer of 1857 at Sheffield. Census returns identify eight children.

  • Mary Emma (1858-1914) – married William Gyte, a cattle and pig dealer, in 1879
  • Jane Elizabeth (b1861) – married Edwin Wells Smith, a chemist (1911), in 1890
  • Clara Ann (abt1864-1935)
  • Caroline (1866-1931)
  • Ada (1867-1949) – married Joseph Maland, a PM Minister, in 1900
  • John Frederick (1869-1935) – a tinware manufacturer (1912)
  • George Henry (b abt1872) – a commercial clerk (1891)
  • Arthur Thomas (1874-1955) – a bank cashier (1912); later a bank manager

George died on 31 December 1904 at Sheffield, Yorkshire.


Primitive Methodist Magazine1906/74

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

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