Handley, Mary (1813-1837)


By her Husband, David Handley, P. M. Itinerant Preacher.

Mary Handley, the fourth daughter of John and Elizabeth Walker, of Rawden in Yorkshire, was born September 13, 1813.  Her parents were Baptists, who endeavoured to train up their children in the fear of God.  But Mary lived in a state of spiritual darkness until she reached her sixteenth year.  Her natural qualifications were such as gave her a high station in civil society; her temper was gentle, her disposition kind and hospitable, and the tenor of her life so strictly moral as to draw attention, and claim respect.

When about seventeen, Mary was brought to feel herself a sinner, and soon realized the free justifying grace of God, through faith in Jesus’ blood.  She was converted to God among the P. Methodists; and from the time of her conversion there was a holy union between God and her soul, which grew so strong as to defy principalities and powers, and which death itself could not break.

Having the love of God shed abroad in her heart, she increased in piety, and her light shone before men.  Her habits of piety being regular, and her attachment to the cause of God great, the society engaged her to beg round the neighbourhood for the missionary cause.

She engaged also as a Sabbath school teacher; and her steady management in this labour of charity, gained her credit in the school, and respect from the public.

On some occasions her business required her attendance at late hours, especially on Saturday evenings.  This was fatiguing.  But still when the Sunday dawned, away she went with her sister and companion in the faith, to the first means of grace, (which was a moveable prayer meeting), winter or summer, ail weathers, to publicly worship the Lord, and plead for the prosperity of Zion.

Her class meetings she highly esteemed; and was as regular and punctual as circumstances would admit.

She was appointed a leader of the prayer meetings, held after evening service had closed in the chapel; in which sphere she moved in a prudent and orderly manner.

She frequently visited the sick, and ministered both to their spiritual and temporal necessities.

To her parents she was dutiful; showing a worthy example of filial respect and obedience.

When about twenty-four years of age, she entered into the marriage state with D. Handley, the writer of this account.  She engaged in this undertaking with great caution, much thought, and earnest prayer; carefully weighing over the importance of the itinerant station, and its privations, with the many painful things she might have to encounter; and at times she shrunk from the thoughts of so important a union.  But finally conceiving it to be a dispensation of Providence, we were united in marriage, June 26,1837; and the same day she took her new station, which was Tadcaster circuit.  There were many painful things.  She had projected instituting a Sunday school in Tadcaster, but was prevented; for about the middle of September, she complained of weariness, weakness, and inward pain.  The doctor stated her affliction to be a nervous fever inclining to typhus.  It at times caused delirium; but in that state her talk was about Jesus and good things.  When she was sensible, I asked the state of her mind. She said, “I -feel much tried and harassed.”  I endeavoured to support her mind by prayer, and by the promises of God.  And asking if she still felt her confidence firm in the Lord; she said, “Yes, I do.”  And she prayed so earnestly to God for help against the mighty, that she trembled and sweat very much.

While conflicting with the powers of darkness, her whole soul was engaged, and her faith gradually rose, until she had full victory by the blood of the Lamb.  When the fiery trial was over, she praised her great Deliverer; and sung with elevation of spirit, while her soul overflowed with joy unspeakable and full of glory.

Sometimes she got into an agony of prayer for sinners; and would cry with energy, “Lord, save sinners! Jesus save sinners,” &c.

Her pain, at times, was most severe; but I never heard her murmur.  In patience she possessed her soul; and took every thing as working together for her good.

About a week before her death, I gave her up to God, for him to do with her and me as seemed good.  I asked her if she should like to die and go to Jesus.  She replied, “Yes, I should.”  I asked if she could freely give me up, and every thing besides.  She replied, “Yes, I can, my dear.  But O, how I do love you!  Yes, my dear, I do love you!”

She remarked, that it being her lot togo first was much better; for if she had been left a widow with a family she knew not how she could have borne it.  I said, God would have been a husband to you and a father to your children.

October 17, 1837, the doctor gave hopes of her recovery.  But after midnight she could not articulate till four o’clock in the morning.  She spoke to me with great kindness.  She then gradually sunk till about half-past eight, and without a sigh, or groan, or struggle, she calmly fell asleep in the arms of her Redeemer.

Her approach to Zion’s happy land was marked smiles, which evidenced the brightness of her prospects.  At her last breath these words rushed into my mind:-

“Happy soul, thy days are ended,
All thy mourning days below,” &c.

She was sung over to the church, in the church, and at the grave.  The doctor, the clergyman, and the clerk, showed the utmost respect and kindness.  And other friends (whose memory will be dear to me while life shall last), assisted me with every mark of kindness and Christian liberality.  May heaven in mercy reward them here and hereafter.

She had been married seventeen weeks and two days.  She lived in the world twenty-four years, one month, one week, and a few hours.  About seven years an honour to the Redeemer’s cause.  The loss of her is great, but temporal; her gain is great and eternal.  Her funeral sermon was preached at Tadcaster, Dec. 5, by Brother Crompton, to an affected audience.

David Handley



Primitive Methodist Magazine, 1838.  Pages 146-148.


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