Lawley, Eliza (nee Walker) (1847-1898)
Transcription of Obituary In the Primitive Methodist Magazine by J. Ferguson
MRS. JOSEPH LAWLEY, late of West Bromwich, was born at Coseley, Staffordshire, January 16, 1847, and fell asleep November 6, 1898, in the fifty-first year of her age. Her early home was on the highlands outside of the Black Country, and yet within sight of its furnaces and fumes. Her mother was a communicant of the Episcopal Church of England, and sought, according to her knowledge, to lead her child to Christ. Early in her teens she came to live with her aunt, who was a quiet Primitive Methodist, whose religious influence was healthy and potent. In this home her regeneration seemed almost inevitable, and in it she remained until she became the queen and sweetening power of another. In the home of her aunt she gained the admiration of all who knew her, but it was in her own she was seen to greater advantage. When the wife of a wage-earning workman her cottage was a palace, where her queenly qualities were manifest. She was industrious, frugal, and liberal. Her house to overwrought minister‘s was a home of rest, and in it her husband found the peace and cheer which invigorated his body and inspired him to success. In later years she became physically indisposed, and suffered not a little, but this did not hinder any of her benevolent ministries – what she willed her daughter did. Her weak heart of flesh did not emblemise that “new ‘heart” of strength which sweetly operated till the Lord said to His weary child, “Rest from thy earthly labours.” Her funeral was largely attended by the ministers and leading laymen of the town in which she was so much beloved. Funeral sermons were preached, or references made in the chief pulpits of the circuit, and an important notice was given in the local papers. The living avenue down which the cortege passed to the church and grave was formed by the members of our churches and the poor whom she had blessed. Their cries and tears were expressions of love and loss, and a testimony to the life and character of her who had gone to God.
Our sister was a woman of order. This was one of the laws of her home. If a structural alteration was needed, or a special house-cleaning, spring or autumn, it was done when her husband was away on business. To her it was a delight on his return to see his astonishment and pleasure at the change wrought. What was confusion to her was an introduction to the order which her husband and others were only allowed to see. Flutter and fuss she knew not. Her household delighted in her, and her husband trusted her. From the rank of a daily boiler he had risen to be a master, and to sit as a member of several public bodies, and even to be requested to sit in the House of Commons as the representative of his native town of West Bromwich. But his exaltation did not rob our sainted friend of her sweet simplicity which made her life a charm to all classes. She was beautifully humble, and her unmixed modesty was the crown of her character. She knew nothing of those coquettings which repulse the poor and disgust the rich and intelligent. To the poor she was a present help, in their sorrow a comforter, and in the darkest hour of their lives her Christian light shone to their advantage. She was a good Samaritan indeed. To widows and orphans, and to the plundered by the wayside, her sympathetic help was near. Her heart was not cold and far away, but warm and approachable. She did not wait for the poor to seek her, she sought them, and especially those who had been reduced and who felt more keenly their loss and sought to hide their poverty. Her beneficence was not loud, she sounded no trumpet, nor conspicuously stood at the corner of the streets that she might be seen of others. She like an angel went in secret, and left behind her a message and a blessing. She was vigilant in charity; much of her quiet work has come to light since her glorification. She had weekly pensioners, chiefly among the elderly men and women and struggling widows over-burdened. Although not strong herself, she strengthened others by her conforting ministries; she would nurse others and forget that she herself needed special care. Her self-forgetfulness disregarded medical advice, the spirit of her eternal Master she fostered and displayed, she gave her life-strength for others, the blessing of those ready to perish came upon her. In the Church she was most active. Her sympathy ran out to the missions at home and abroad, and the claims of the Orphanage touched the font of her charity. She was spiritually active. The Sunday services which appear to be sufficient for many of our well-to-do families did not suffice for her. She must attend her class, the church prayer-meetings, and help by her presence the week-evening service. Her beautiful home did not make less lovely the House of her God; she loved its courts, its various services were her delight, she hungered for the fellowship of the saints; godly folk to her were God’s representatives. The theatre she knew not, and the frivolous chatter that wasted hours, and robbed the soul, she would not, she followed her Lord, and where He had not promised to be in the midst she would not go.
She was the friend of all good men, and especially ministers. In her early days the fathers of our Church sat at the table of her aunt, who is now in heaven; she heard the thrilling stories of their sufferings and work. It was her memory of them that intensified her Christian affection for the servants of to-day. In her local preachers had a sympathetic friend, and one who would not allow unjust or ungenerous criticism of their methods and matter. She would remind the critic that they had to work hard in the manufactory, or attend to taxing business, and so could not be expected to do as ministers who could devote more time to preparation.
She: was dispositionally and habitually hospitable to all and especially to Primitive Methodists. Our Church was her ideal. She was catholic in her sympathies, but to our Church she had given herself, and so conscientlously gave of her substance. Former limited means did not check her giving to-day. Some she knew brought the giving habits needed in comparative poverty into the wealth of after days. Not so our friend; God blessed her so she gave. “He had given to her and she must recognise His claim.” She gave well as the wife of a working-man, but her gifts increased as his wealth accumulated. To the funds of the “cathedral ” now in erection at the Lyng, in the West Bromwich Second Circuit, she gave her daughter £50 to lay on a stone, her husband gave £100, and in memory of her life and work he gives an organ at a cost, at least, of £400. These offerings do not adequately represent the gifts she gave to this much needed enterprise. Our friend’s death was in character with her life. In the midst of great suffering she was patient and always considerate for the comfort of her klnsfolk and nurse. No murmur escaped her lips or entered as a jarring note into the sweet music of her ending life. When the terrible paroxysms of pain died her joy revived, and her testimony to the Lord’s presence and faithfulness are a lingering comfort to many, and especially to her husband and household. When the shadow of this life was falling she repeated, “Rock of Ages cleft for me,” etc., and with an emphasis not describable, she sweetly whispered – “My Jesus, I love Thee, I know Thou art mine,” and, “Lord Jesus, I long to be perfectly whole,” etc. “if I had the voice,” she said, “but I’m too weak, I would sing these precious hymns for you.”
To her the Word of the Lord was sweet to her taste. lts promises were lamps shining into and through the darkness; they kept alive the fire of hope. The twenty-third Psalm was her favourite portion, and she would repeat with the joy of assurance, “Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, l will fear no evil,” etc. Her soul-joy was great, and like Stephen, she said she saw Jesus in great beauty and indescribable splendour waiting for her on the other side of the death-stream. The Canaan was near, just across the river over which she could step, and its “fields were dressed in living green.”
In the light of this eternal morning, the glory of which she already saw, she besought her kinsfolk and those around her bed to “be good and meet her in heaven.” Her last words touched Christ’s Kingdom here and hereafter, and thus in full assurance she passed down –
“The covered way which opens into light,
Wherein no blinded child can stray
Beyond the Father’s sight.”
The aunt that Eliza went to live with was probably Martha Walker, whose husband Charles was a grocer.
The 1871 census describes Eliza as a domestic servant.
She married Joseph Lawley (1846-1917) in the spring of 1871 at West Bromwich. Joseph was an iron moulder in 1881 and an iron founder in 1891. At the time of his death his estate was valued at almost £21,000. Census returns identify one child.
- Clara (abt1872-1953) – married John Richard Ready Simcox (a works manager in costume factory (1911); later a Major in the Army) in 1900
Primitive Methodist Magazine 1901/552
Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers