Transcription of obituary published in the Primitive Methodist Magazine by Anne Hawkins
THE subject of this memoir was born at Viney Hill, Gloucestershire, in the year 1835. We do not know the exact date of his conversion, but it took place when he was quite a boy, and from that time he was remarkable for a quiet, thoughtful demeanour. Indeed, his conversion only deepened his general propriety of conduct, and it was only by an increased love for God’s people and the ordinances of His house that any change of heart could be observed.
In 1857 he became a local preacher on the plan of the Pillawell Circuit, and about a year after was called out to travel under the superintendency of the Rev. J.P. Bellingham, then stationed at Stroud, whose help and teaching in ministerial work was of great service to him after. The Rev. Robert Tuffin was his next superintendent in the same circuit. He died in 1870, and the two glorified spirits have doubtless long since greeted each other on the shores of immortality. His next station was Penzance, with the Rev. C.T. Harris, of Penzance, whom he always spoke as a kind and judicious superintendent, and of the two happy years spent with him and his esteemed wife. The next station was Bath, where he was married. After this his stations were:—Chacewater, two years; St: Ives, Cornwall, one year; St. Austell, four years; Seend Cleeve, two years; Monmouth, three years; Penzance (second time), two years; St. Ives (second time), three years; Brierley Hill, two years; and Worcester, two years and a few weeks.
While at St. Ives the last time, he had a serious illness, which prevented him from engaging in his ministerial work for three months. Health was then partially restored and he resumed work, but with an enfeebled frame. At Brierley Hill the journeys were, some of them, long, and he often felt greatly fatigued on returning home. Worcester was the last station, and the heavy chapel difficulty there was a great anxiety to him. He had to face the fact that unlimited efforts had been made previous to his coming by soliciting subscriptions for the new chapel more than once, so that George Street Chapel was a well-known name in Worcester. Nevertheless, he bravely asked again, and was the means of rescuing the chapel from threatened trouble of a serious nature. He begged for it to such an extent, that all outstanding bills were met, and it was made comparatively secure.
This persistent begging has since his death been, in more than one instance, misrepresented, and used against those defenceless ones left behind, who are, of course, blameless in the matter. But God knows the motives of the heart, and to Him we leave the issues of the course of conduct pursued. His moral and private character was singularly pure and spotless, and when he passed away he left behind him the ‘white flower’ of a blameless life. His preaching abilities were of no mean order, and his business ability was marked and thorough.
About six months before his death his health began rapidly to decline, but he got better for a short time. After June Quarter-day he hardly left his room, and the two fell diseases, bronchitis and diabetes, made rapid progress. On the morning of the 31st July, he awoke suddenly after a restless night, and said distinctly, ‘I am free’ three times. He was then assisted up in bed, but a blood-vessel suddenly burst, and he was gone in a few minutes. He was soon painlessly at rest after great suffering.
During the last two weeks of his life he gave clear evidence of his readiness to depart and be with Christ, and on being questioned, said he was ‘ready,’ and that he had ‘been in communion with God for years.’ He leaves a wife and large family, but they know that God will be their Helper and Judge, and that if faithful, they shall meet their loved and lost on the blissful plains of the sorrowless land.
Gone from our yearning,
Swift as a bird takes its flight,
Cleaving the azure to glory supernal,
Lost in the quivering light.’
James was born in 1835 at Viney Hill, Gloucestershire, to parents George and Ann.
He married Ann Tuffin (abt1843-1888) in early 1864 in the Clutton Registration District, Somerset. Census returns identify ten children.
- Edith Mary (b abt1865)
- Winifred Annie (1866-1934) – married Charles Beader Knock, a manger of educational outfitting company (1901), in 1897
- Elizabeth Mabel (abt1868-1924) – married James Benjamin James, a colliery sawyer (1911), in 1889
- Gertrude Ethel (b1868)
- Emily Frances (1870-1936) – married Alfred Walker, a traveller (1911), in 1896
- James Arthur (b abt1872) – an actor (1901)
- George Lanwarne (b1873) – emigrated to Canadain 1895; a sign writer (1911)
- Robert Stockwell (1874-1927) – a music hall artist (1911)
- Kate Eliza (b1877)
- Florence Imogen (1879-1929) – emigrated to USA in 1897: married Peter John Nyland, a teamster in coal yard (1910), in 1900
James died on 31 July 1885 at Worcester.
- 1859 Stroud
- 1861 Penzance
- 1863 Bath
- 1865 St Day
- 1866 St Ives
- 1867 Seend Cleve
- 1869 St Austell
- 1873 Monmouth
- 1876 Penzance
- 1878 St Ives
- 1881 Brierley Hill
- 1883 Worcester
Primitive Methodist Magazine 1886/113
PM Minutes 1886/19
W Leary, Directory of Primitive Methodist Ministers and their Circuits, 1990
Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers