Francis, William (1825-1903)

Transcription of Obituary in the Primitive Methodist Magazine by B. Senior

Mr. William Francis died at Canterbury, March the 24th, aged seventy-seven years. He was born at Colsterworth, near Grantham, in Lincolnshire, on December the 24th, 1825. He came to London when he was about sixteen years of age. The date of his conversion is not known, but it was under a sermon preached by the late Mr. Richards of Torquay. The sermon was preached in our old King Street Chapel, in Camden Town, London, and the text was “Prepare to meet thy God.” He went to work on the Monday morning, and told his master, who was abutcher, that he could not do any more work on the Sunday, as he had resolved to serve the Lord. His master said, “Very well, William, I must get someone else, you had better leave on Saturday night,” but when he came the master sent for him in the office and said, “ There you are, William, there is a two-shilling rise for you, and a Bible, and you can come to work as usual on Monday morning, and from now I will not have any more killing done on a Sunday.” How wonderfully God honours holy resolves and true principles. He was a total abstainer and non-smoker, and when he gave up the drink and smoking he began to put a shilling a week into the missionary box, and this he continued up to his death, over forty years, without a break. He was also a good supporter to our orphanage. Indeed he was a most generous man: it will never be fully known what he did for the cause, for it was all done in such a quiet way. He came to Ramsgate nearly forty years ago, and commenced business for himself, in which he was very successful, and the more he succeeded the more he gave to the cause. His whole heart was in the work. It was an inspiration to a minister to see him in a prayer-meeting on a Sunday night, and to hear him sing as I have never heard anyone else sing just in the same way,
“Grace is flowing like a river,
Millions there have been supplied.”

Thirty-one years ago, when I commenced my ministry in the circuit, he was in his prime. One Sunday night in old Queen Street Chapel we had eleven converted, and I can see him now with his face all radiant with gladness. As one after another found Christ he would start off again his old favourite, “Grace is flowing.” He was a true friend to the ministers. I never heard of him putting a thorn in their side, but I have often heard of him taking one out. The late Rev. W. Dinnick, who was on this circuit for nine years, had his best support. I have before me a most touching letter from Mrs. Dinnick to Mrs. Francis, testifying to the nobility of his life, the purity of his character, and the abundance of his labours. Other letters are also from Revs. R.R. Connell, T. Saunders, the two sons of the late Rev. D. Moore, Mr. W. Foat; and Rev. R.W. Burnett, of Canterbury, who visited him during his illness, says: “I never knew anyone with a more cheerful and patient spirit, nor with a brighter outlook for eternity. No matter how bad he himself felt, he had always a cheerful word for others.” Several times during the last few days of his illness he was heard to say to himself, “May Jesus cheer me last on earth, and greet me first in Heaven.” His death was so peaceful that it was like going to sleep. No struggle or fear at the last. He was interred in the Canterbury Cemetery on the 27th, by the writer and Rev. Thomas Dyke, Rev. R.W. Burnett not being able to attend through illness. A memorial service was conducted by the writer in our Canterbury Chapel, at the special request of the family, on Sunday, 29th, preaching from John xiv., 3. A very remarkable prayer-meeting followed, when eight Sunday school scholars came out for Christ, one of them being a great grandson of Mr. Francis. Much sympathy is felt with Mrs. Francis and her family in their great loss.

Family

William was baptised on 12 January 1826 at Colsterworth, Lincolnshire. His parents were William and Mary.

William worked all his life as a butcher. In 1841 he was a butcher’s apprentice.

William married Mary Ann (b abt1824). Census returns identify one child.

  • Mary Ann Elizabeth (1847-1910) – married Charles Petty, a clerk, in 1867

William died on 24 March 1903.

References

Primitive Methodist Magazine 1904/326

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

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