Gostling, Matilda (nee Howlett) (1800-1854)

Transcription of obituary published in the Primitive Methodist Magazine by Wm Cooper

MATILDA GOSTLING, of Bedford, was born at Sheffield, in the year 1800. Her father, who was an officer in the army, having been discharged on half-pay, settled down at Gislengham, in Suffolk; and during his residence there, he invited the Wesleyans to preach in his barn. She was thereby brought into contact with Methodism from her infancy, and became a regular hearer of the word. Her parents, according to the light they possessed, trained up their children in the fear of the Lord; and their instructions were not lost upon her; from her childhood, she had the fear of the Lord before her eyes. In the year 1829, she was married to John S. Gostling, and went to reside at Thetford, where she joined with the Wesleyans, with whom she continued a member for about seven years; but during that time never experienced a “sense of sins forgiven.”

In the year 1838 she removed to Bedford, and soon after a Primitive Methodist chapel was erected close by her dwelling. Having a small family, and this chapel being near, at the solicitation of her husband, she was induced to attend it. The simplicity of the people just suited her, and she became a member with them. Under the ministry of our people she was led to see more clearly the way of salvation; and while Mr. Thomas Holliday was praying with her in her house, she cast her guilty soul on the atoning blood of Jesus, and obtained pardon. During the time brother Dodsworth was in the mission, she was appointed assistant leader to sister Dodsworth’s class. This was a heavy cross; and when brother Dodsworth told her the decision of the leaders’ meeting, she wept; but she found grace to take up the cross. She was led to see the necessity of entire sanctification; and while sitting under the ministry of brother Dodsworth, she experienced that the blood of Christ cleanseth from all sin. This blessing of perfect love she retained to the end of her pilgrimage. After brother Dodsworth was removed from this station, she was appointed leader to sister Dodsworth’s class, and faithfully fulfilled her duties as such.

During her Christian course, she was the subject of many severe afflictions, both personal and domestic; but she bore them all in a Christian manner. During her last affliction, she said but little; but what little she did say was satisfactory and cheering. On the night previous to her dissolution, in answer to the question, “Do you feel Christ precious?” she replied, “He is! he is! he is!” The following morning she shouted, “Glory! glory! glory be to the bleeding Lamb!” A short time after, I visited her for the last time, and found her trusting in the Lord. As I mentioned the Lord’s being with her to the end, she said, “Yes, yes, to the end!” After this she said but little. Some time before her departure, she was quite unconscious of anything that was passing; and in the afternoon of May 27th, 1854, she fell asleep in Jesus. She was an affectionate wife, a tender parent, a kind neighbour, and a steady friend. She was a true Primitive Methodist; she loved the cause, and rejoiced in its success. She was a Christian in the church, a Christian in the world, and a Christian at home. As a class-leader, she was exemplary; her class lay near her heart, she was anxious about those who were prone to wander, and when her health would permit, she diligently sought after them. She was also successful. She was beloved by the members, and her loss will be long felt.

Prayer was her frequent exercise; she delighted in it: five times a day she statedly poured forth her soul therein; and when employed in her domestic affairs, she was often observed to be engaged in prayer. She was a woman of strong faith. One morning she had a severe attack of spasms in the stomach, a disease she had been subject to for several years; and while her husband was interceding in her behalf at the family altar, she by faith laid hold of God, and found instant relief. She arose from her knees, and exclaimed, “Bless the Lord, I have not one pain!” and from that time the disease never returned. She, doubtless, had her failings; but they were better known to herself and God than to her family. She was “an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no guile.”


Matilda was born in 1800 at Sheffield, Yorkshire. 

She married John Symonds Gostling (1795-1874), an upholsterer, on 22 October 1828 at Bacton, Suffolk. Census returns identify six children.

  • Mary Matilda (abt1830-1898) – a preparatory school teacher (1871)
  • Anna Maria (1831-1873) – married Thomas Doody, a PM minister, in 1855  (******LINKS)
  • John Reeve (abt1833-1898) – a cabinet maker
  • Charlotte Elizabeth (1837-1916) – a seamstress (1871); married Thomas Doody, a PM minister, in the summer of 1873 
  • James Henry (1839-1894)
  • David Ebenezer (1842-1908) – died in Bombay, India

Matilda died on 27 May 1854 at Bedford, Bedfordshire.


Primitive Methodist Magazine 1854/516

W Leary, Directory of Primitive Methodist Ministers and their Circuits, 1990

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

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