Gill, Abraham (1816-1901)
Transcription of Obituary In the Primitive Methodist Magazine by John W. Lancaster
The Connexion, and the Skipton Circuit in particular, have just lost a venerable and good man in the death of Mr. Abraham Gill, of Bradley. It was only at the last Conference, held at Bristol, that Bro. Gill had the distinguished honour placed upon him of being appointed Deed Poll member. Such honour can be conferred upon comparatively few. If, however, long years of faithful service and untiring devotion to everything that concerned the prosperity of his beloved Church can have any merit, this honour was not misplaced. Bro. Gill was born at Bradley on June 24th, 1816. He was the son of Thomas and Elizabeth Gill, who were both members, and much devoted to our cause in this village in its early days of struggle and triumph. The true devotion of Thomas Gill to Primitive Methodism was evident from a remark made to his son, Abraham, on the occasion of his marriage. “Abraham,” he said, “now that thou hast got a wife and a home of thy own, never be afraid of giving the preachers a meal.” “And I never have been,” the grand old man would sometimes say, “and God has blessed me a hundredfold for the cup of cold water that I have given to His servants.” Hundreds of our preachers during the last fifty years can testify how hearty and generous this hospitality has been. The visits of the preacher, both local and itinerant, were always special events to him. During his affliction, when visited by our circuit steward (Mr. M. Edmondson), he was asked if they could have a word of prayer. “Of course,” said he; “I expect no man of God to come and see me without praying.” No wonder that God gave to His faithful servant such a beautiful sunset. His last days seemed to be like those of Moses, when climbing up Mount Nebo to meet God and to die. When Mr. Gill was sixteen years of age he attended the Conference that was held at Bradford, that was in the year 1832. Had anyone then spoken to him about becoming a Christian he would have decided. He said he was anxious to be saved, but did not seem to have the opportunity he was waiting for. To the very end of his life he regretted that he did not then take the step. It would have saved him from much trouble and sin. It was not till the last day in the year 1838 that he was fully decided, When just as the clock was striking twelve at midnight he fell on his knees, sought and found salvation. He at once united himself with our cause at Bradley, and from that day maintained an unbroken membership for over sixty-two years. His devotion and gifts for public speaking soon recognised by the Rev. Jas. Macpherson and the Circuit. In the same year as that of his conversion we find him installed on the Station plan as a fully accredited local preacher. He preached his first sermon at the Bradley Wood Bridge, in the open-air, having said to a friend, “If the preacher does not come to-day I will take the service.” The preacher, however, did come, but hearing of what Mr. Gill had said he at once called upon him to speak. This he did, and his words were attended with much blessing. His trial sermon was preached on Addingham Moor one hot summer’s day, when the now venerable Rev. Thomas Newell held over his head an umbrella. This incident Mr. Gill referred to at the Bristol Conference, after having been introduced to the Assembly by Mr. Newell. Referring to the scene and Mr. Gill’s memorable experience as related to the Conference, our worthy President, the Rev. Joseph Odell, said, “It was like a breeze from the other shore.” In his early preaching days, Mr. Gill sometimes questioned with himself as regards his call to this work, but at one of his services held at Cononley a remarkable conversion took place, the convert the late Geo. Gawthorpe, for many years a man of saintly memory in Cononley and the Skipton Circuit. After this, preaching to him was a conviction. Bro. Gill was also a class leader at Bradley for more than fifty years. Nothing could tempt him to miss this. “Never once, to my knowledge,” he would sometimes say, “have I carelessly neglected my meeting when it was possible to be there.” This was generally true of all other services. How much we shall miss his his bright, cheery presence and his hearty responses at the services no one can tell but the little church at Bradley and the preachers who are planned from time to time. The last week and days of his affliction will ever be memorable to all whose privilege it was to visit him. He told his family it was not his long life and what he had done for his Church that would save him; it was all of Christ’s unmerited love and grace. “Rock of Ages” was the hymn he desired us to repeat more than once. When the writer and minister of the Circuit was praying with him the day before his death, “Everlasting Father” was his last response. Later on, and only a few minutes before his spirit passed beyond the veil, he gave an intelligent look at his daughter, then muttered the word “glory,” and was gone. Many letters, full of kindly sympathy, have already reached the family. The funeral took place at Kildwlck Churchyard. Prior to leaving for our chapel at Bradley, a brief service was held at the house, conducted by Rev. J. W. Lancaster (Circuit minister), who also conducted the service in the chapel, which was a very impressive. The ministers also present were Rev. John Wilkinson, of Bradford (representing General Committee), Rev. T. Markwell, of Halifax (District Missionary Secretary), Rev. R. Reeve (Silsden), and the Rev. W. Curry (Farnhill). A large number of laymen from Silsden, Keighley, and the Skipton Circuits were also present, many of whom had been colleagues of the deceased in the local lay ministry for many years. The chapel began by the singing of a hymn, after which Rev. T. Markwell read a portion of Scripture. The hymn, “When our heads are bowed in woe,” was next sung, followed by prayer by Bros. T. Ibbetson and T.H. Heelis (two aged and respected local preachers). Brief addresses were then given by Revs. T. Markwell, J.W. Lancaster, and J. Wilkinson. The Rev. R. Reeve concluded the service with prayer. At the grave-side the burial was conducted by Rev. J.W. Lancaster, assisted by Rev. W. Curry.
Abraham was baptised on 28 July 1816 at Kildwick, Yorkshire. At that time his parents, Thomas, a wool comber, and Elizabeth, lived at Snaygill, nr Skipton, Yorkshire.
Census returns identify the following occupations for Abraham.
- 1841 wool comber
- 1851 wool comber
- 1861 mason’s labourer
- 1871 quarryman
- 1881 draper
- 1891 newsagent
Abraham married Maria Mawson (1814-1865) on 20 March 1838 at Kildwick, Yorkshire. Census returns identify seven children.
- Margaret Ann (1838-1915) – a dressmaker
- Elizabeth (1840-1858)
- Eliza (1843-1902) – a worsted weaver (1871); a housekeeper (1891)
- Susannah (1846-1863) – a cotton winder (1861)
- Jane (b1848) – a worsted weaver (1871); housekeeper (1881)
- Sarah (1851-1886) – a machine knitter (1881)
- Thomas (1856-1873) – a worsted weaver (1871)
Abraham died on 12 January 1901 at Bradley, Yorkshire.
Primitive Methodist Magazine 1902/235
Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers