Harvey, William (d1837)


(Wallingford circuit.)

Wm. Harvey was born of poor parents, who were unhappily ignorant of things moral and divine, and therefore could not instruct their son; and in consequence he followed the devices of his own deceitful heart; was led into abandoned company, formed bad habits, was ungodly to a proverb; lies and oaths, with gaming, fighting, &c., were sins which showed themselves openly for a series of years.  Home was neglected, his wife abused, and his children left without restraint.  And neither he nor any of his children being able to read, the bible was no companon. All ministry was by him neglected and despised.

I, as the first P. M. missionary, visited Lewknor in the spring of 1834.  Singing down the village attracted Bro. Harvey’s attention.  He came, (as he has said), to see what was to be done.  And, among the crowd, he listened attentively to the preaching; and that evening opened his house for a prayer meeting.  The Lord was present to convince, as well as to save.  And from that hour he abandoned his evil courses, sought the Lord with purpose of heart, and found him to the joy of his soul.

When the winter came his house was opened for preaching; a small society was formed, and he and his wife became members.  And as the congregation increased and the word prevailed, persecution arose, and proceeded to a great height.  On one occasion the ungodly threw eggs, dirt, &c., into the house.  Some put in birds with a design to put out the lights.  Some actually seized the window and window case, tore the whole out of the wall of the cottage, and carried it into the high road; and then proceeded to throw various things at the preacher and people.  We, however, kept our post; but satan still raged, and they began to make a noise with tin kettles and other things to annoy us; and also threw flint stones.

One day, while passing through Lewknor, in my way to an appointment, a person threw a flint stone, and struck me on the side of my head, close to my ear, and stunned me for a few minutes; the blood flowing profusely down my face, and out of my ear.

Some of our friends said, “Go to Lewknor no more.”  But Bro. Harvey being still willing to bear a part, we kept our appointments; and the opposition shortly after ceased; and the congregation has heard peaceably ever since.

Through all that avowed opposition to truth, Bro. Harvey manifested a firmness such as I have seldom witnessed; and continued amidst threats from farmers, gentlemen, &c., to receive us into his house; said it was our home in that village; and, according to his circumstances, accommodated us with the greatest pleasure.

His knowledge at first was scanty; which was one cause of his shaving himself &c., on a Sunday; till the preachers showed him the evil of so doing, and he then laid it aside.

All the inhabitants of the village were constrained to say that the change in him was very great  And his wife and children say, after he was converted to God, his conduct to them was like that of a new man.

This part of our circuit being newly missioned, and local preachers’ help being scanty, we were obliged to put on our printed plan a good number of prayer leaders; among these was Bro. Harvey, who sustained this office with satisfaction to himself, and we trust with profit to others.

In September, 1836, he was afflicted with the dropsy, and an overflow of blood, which unfitted him for labour, and by degrees brought him to the grave.  In his affliction he murmured not, though his pain was severe, and his poverty distressing.  His confidence in God was strong and unshaken to the last; and his bursts of joy surprised all that lived near, or came to see him.

His last bequest to his wife and children was, “Look to Jesus; for he will be your friend if you trust in him: therefore dont grieve for me.  I am happy, Glory! Glory i I am going home to heaven, where I shall soon have the white robe and the crown of gold.  I am not afraid to die.”

Bro. and Sister Baker of Watlington, frequently visited him in his illness, and generally found him happy.  He always received them with joy, and advised them to hold fast their confidence.

The surgeon who attended him was at times pleasingly affected with his shouts of praise, and strong language, expressive of his readiness to die.  The day before he departed, he articulated “Glory, Glory,” and assured his wife she need not grieve, for he was about to die, to go to heaven to Jesus.  And in a few hours he departed without a struggle or a groan.  Reader! strive to secure Christ for thy friend, and thy last end shall be like his.

W. Wiltshire

Lewknor , May 4, 1837.



Primitive Methodist Magazine, 1838.  Pages 62-63



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