Jaques, William (1847-1910)

Transcription of obituary published in the Primitive Methodist Magazine by R. Fernanda Fairley 

Among recent heavy losses on the Stroud Circuit, by no means the least is the death of our beloved brother, William Jacques. He was indeed a true child of nature and as true a child of grace. He was brought to God under the persuasive ministry of Mrs. Joseph Harding, when her husband was minister of the Circuit. In a very short time he was called upon to exercise and develop his gifts as a local preacher. To add proficiency to voice and utterance and overcome a natural nervousness, he rehearsed his early sermons among his sheep on the rugged slope of the Cotswold Hills where he performed his calling. In time, he became the most rapid speaker in the neighbourhood, while his voice was worthy of a Boanerges. His early vocation was that of a shepherd, and this gave him his soubriquet of the “Happy Shepherd.” This was varied later by the title ‘’Billy Bray,’’ whom he was thought to resemble. 

For thirty years he exercised his useful and acceptable ministry. No distance was too long, no weather too severe, no congregation too small. Every pulpit in his own Circuit was open to him. Other Churches were eager to ‘’borrow” him. He was never late, and he always reckoned to take his own work; if another took his appointment there was always a lawful reason. If he was acceptable in-doors he was indispensable out-doors: no camp meeting was considered complete without Brother Jacques. 

Whilst it is doubtless true that he perspired much, it is none the less true that he inspired many. He was gifted with a happy optimism, a ready wit, a quaint humour, a rugged eloquence, a fine devotional fervour, and clear spiritual vision. His wit was genial, never satirical; his humour was homely, but never vulgar. Consequently, he made many friends and few enemies. He was faithful to the last, and glided away gently to the Homeland just as the late Spring was blossoming into Summer. His ‘‘memory ’’ will long remain green and his works abide.


William was born in 1847 at Asthall, Oxfordshire, to parents William, a shepherd (1861), and Esther. He was baptised on 1 August 1847 at Asthall.

Census returns identify the following occupations for William. 

  • 1861 plough boy
  • 1871 agricultural labourer shepherd
  • 1881 agricultural labourer shepherd
  • 1891 shepherd & local preacher
  • 1901 domestic gardener

He married Elizabeth Thornton (abt1845-1916) on 20 November 1869 at Lower Swell, Gloucestershire. Census returns identify five children.  

  • George William (1871-1964) – a shoemaker (1891); a passive resister        
  • Henry Edward (1875-1952) – a congregational minister (1911)        
  • Anne Elizabeth (1878-1964) – married Charles Alfred Pond, a boot dealer’s assistant (1911), in 1901
  • Edith Kate (1883-1971) – married George Nathan Hawkes, an engineer’s storekeeper (1939), in 1917
  • Archibald Albert (1887-1918) – private in army (1911); died in WW1

William died in early 1910 at Stroud, Gloucestershire.


Primitive Methodist Magazine 1910/742

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

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