Johnson, Sarah (nee Povey) (1836-1898)

Transcription of Obituary In the Primitive Methodist Magazine by I.W. Johnson

SARAH POVY, wife of Isaac W. Johnson, Newcastle-on-Tyne Third Circuit, was born at Hanley, Staffordshire Potteries, November 12, 1836, and died in the Lord, Good Friday, April 8, 1898, aged sixty-one years.

At a very early age her family removed to Newcastle-on-Tyne. Her parents were members of the Methodist New Connexion; as there was no school or place of worship belonging to that denomination in the neighbourhood, she, along with six more of the family, were sent to our Sunday School at Ballast Hills, a place where such men as the late Revs. T. Greenfield and H. Gilmore,  and others, were sent forth to be made a blessing to the world.

From her earliest years our dear sister evinced a keen relish for divine things, and as she grew up became greatly attached to the school and the church. From a scholar she rose to be a teacher, and her new duties she undertook with a determination to fulfil them to the best of her power. Having a good voice she was invited to join the choir, under the leadership of the late John Daglish, and soon rose to be the leading female chorister in it, which position she retained for a number of years.

In the winter of 1856 a great revival of religion took place under the ministry of the Rev. R. Fenwick, and she, with a great number of young men and women, were converted, and joined the church. Many of these continue to the present witnessing a good confession, while many others have gone to their eternal reward.

In the spring of 1857, he who is left to walk life’s pathway alone was brought into the enjoyment of like precious faith, and was also a scholar and teacher in the same school.

Such was her love for the work in which she took such deep interest, that she rose early on the Sabbath mornings to assist her widowed mother in home and domestic duties, in order that she might be in time – nine o’clock – for school. Such men as the late W.B. Leighton, Philip Wears, R. Soulsby, David Boyd, David Wright, and many others, exercised a great influence on her life, and many a time has she referred to those early days with great pleasure.

In the year 1863 she became the wife of Isaac W. Johnson, who for thirty-eight years has been, and still is, a local preacher, and for the space of over thirty-five years she was the partner of his joys and sorrows. Her home was always open for the entertainment of ministers and local preachers; the memory of such sainted men as Revs. W. Dent, H. Phillips, Peter Clark, T. Smith, T. Brodie, H. Gilmore, B. Moody, were held by her in warm affection, and many ministers who are at present in active service she held in great respect as servants of the Great Master. She enjoyed the friendship of the Revs. J. Jackson, Dr. Watson, W. Bowe, J. Hallam, H. Yooll, R.G. Graham, H.B. Kendall, and others; but for her spiritual father, Rev. R. Fenwick, she ever manifested a deep affection. Her motherly sympathies went out to any struggling young man or woman in their endeavour to fight life’s battle, and her Christian counsel and advice could always be relied upon. She took a deep interest in all that concerned the welfare of the Church, and great was her joy when she saw three of her own children step into the liberty of God’s dear children and join the Church.

Her great desire was to see her family all grown up to manhood and womanhood. This was granted her, and she ever strove to set them a good Christian example. Family prayer was conducted by her in the absence of her husband at his daily toil, and great was her delight, not only to minister to their temporal needs, but also their spiritual interests. She dearly loved her class, which she joined after her conversion, led by the late Mrs. Jane Cook, sister of Rev. J. Spoor of sacred memory, and she maintained a continuous membership and regular attendance as long as health and strength permitted.

For some years she suffered from chronic disease of the kidneys, and endured great pain, which she bore with patience and fortitude. Our dear sister always expressed her deep love for her Saviour, and told her husband what precious times she had during the night seasons when she could not sleep. Hers was a deep, firm faith in God; she trusted in the finished work of Christ for her present and eternal salvation.

Her last illness, which was long and protracted, was borne with entire resignation to the Divine will. She was not able to give, at the last moments, any signal of victory over the last enemy, she being in an unconscious state for several hours before her death. But husband and family are assured by her life and testimony that she is in the Father’s house above.

A few weeks before the end came she woke up and said, “Did you not hear the music? There was a great company of various voices singing, but I was told I had not to join them yet.” She has since joined that innumerable company of the redeemed, that John saw, who had come out of great tribulation, and are now before the throne.

We do not claim for our sister entire perfection; she doubtless had her failings (who has not?), but none were more conscious than herself of them.

Rev. A. Walliker saw her a few times during her illness, and those visits were to her precious seasons. The Venerable Rev. R. Fenwick saw her as often as the weather and the state of his health would permit, his last visit being on the morning of April 7th, and at that visit, during prayer, it was good to be there; she entered with great joy into the little service held by her bed-side, and responded with rapture to the prayers of minister and husband. Thus she continued in this devout frame, under the careful attendance of her sorrowing husband, until towards evening, when she again lapsed into unconsciousness. Then the medical adviser told her husband to summon all the members of the family together, as the end was near, and amid the tears and prayers of husband and family, she quietly fell asleep in Jesus, ten minutes past one o’clock, a.m., Good Friday morning, April 8, 1898.

On Easter Sunday, April 10, she was interred in All Saints’ Cemetery, Newcastle-on-Tyne. The funeral service was held in the Heaton Road Church, Newcastle Third Circuit, conducted by her spiritual father and life-long friend, Rev. R. Fenwick, in the church and at the cemetery, amid the sympathetic tears of many who came from various circuits, as well as a great number of the public who thus paid tribute to her memory.

A memorial service was held on Sunday evening, May 10, when an impressive service was held, and an able and touching address was delivered to a crowded congregation by the Rev. A. Walliker, and we trust that many went from that service with new motives to live the Christian life. “So He giveth His beloved sleep.”


Sarah’s parents were Joseph, a potter, and Sarah.

She married Isaac Wright Johnson (1837-1910) in late 1863 at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Northumberland. Isaac worked as a salesman at a pottery (1871) and later as a warehouseman at the pottery (1881, 1891). Census returns identify five children.

  • George Povey (abt1866-1937) – a railway guard (1910)
  • Sarah Jane (abt1868-1903) – a milliner
  • John (abt1872-1920) – a commercial clerk (1910)
  • Harriet Ann (b1875) – a draper’s assistant (1901); married Silas John Mills, a joiner, in 1901
  • Ada (b1877) – a dressmaker (1901); married Arthur Gamble in 1914


Primitive Methodist Magazine 1901/146

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

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