Mason, James (1837-1905)

Transcription of Obituary in the Primitive Methodist Magazine by John Hallam

Mr. Mason was born at Leicester in December, 1837, and was at the time of his death sixty-seven years of age. His early religious life was fostered by attendance at our George Street Chapel and Sunday School, and during a great religious revival at this place he, with many more young people was savingly converted. It was characteristic of our church at that time not to allow abilities and talents to lie dormant, and thus he was soon put on the plan as a local preacher, and in this department of circuit work did much effective service. In mid-life he felt powerfully drawn to aggressive Mission work, and for some years was a kind of town missionary, devoting himself and all he had to promote the conversion of the poor of Leicester and to further habits of temperance among the people. This of necessity prevented his doing ordinary church work, but twelve years ago he became associated with our Highfields Church in Leicester, then, and for some years after, at a very low ebb. Here he did exceedingly good service, no person taking keener interest in its varied experiences. When it was reduced to very few members and had a mere apology for a Sunday School; when it was expected daily that the place would be closed and sold; when all others turned faint-hearted and were dismayed, Mr. Mason led on the remnant, feeling assured of ultimate victory, ever cheerful and always ready to preach when others failed in duty. Be it was that headed the movement which led the Missionary Committee to take the Highfields property, reconstruct it, and open it as a mission.

Then he rejoiced in the prospect of enlarged success, and gave the best of his failing strength to it. He was called during the last two years of his life to suffer most keenly, and being unable to follow his avocation, he had to suffer in poverty, although friends were kind to him. But he suffered cheerfully, bore it all patiently and was grateful for all kindness shown to him. Near the end he said: “I shall be satisfied when I awake in Thy likeness,” and on Easter Monday morning, April 24th, 1905, he closed his eyes and came to the goal he had set before him and saw his Saviour face to face.

Our brother was gifted with intelligence of no mean order. He had cultivated it by the varied reading of good books of a theological, historical and biographical character and he was very desirous of assisting younger men, especially those who gave themselves to the preaching of the Word. He was an extremely interesting conversationalist and many benefited from contact with him.

His moral character was of a high order. He was very conscientious, kindly and generous. He made great sacrifices in business to help his father and also to keep his mission-work going; his generosity and conscientiousness were perhaps accountable for the pecuniary struggle of his later years. Once he gave up his business as a chemist rather than sell other things than drugs on Sundays, and these drugs only when necessary. His customers boycotted him in their resentment. He detested anything unjust, mean or shabby. He loved the House of God, the class-meeting and all means of grace.

Nine short months ago he welcomed me to Highfields and spoke with optimistic confidence of the success of the work; but it was easy to see his days were numbered: now he is gone before, and his daughter and we must follow on till the shadows flee away and we come to the clearer knowledge.


James was born to parents William, a frame-work-knitter, and Sarah.

Census returns identify the following occupations for James.

  • 1851 hair-dresser’s assistant
  • 1861 glove manufacturer
  • 1871 shoe manufacturer
  • 1881 shoemaker
  • 1891 shoe manufacturer
  • 1901 boot & shoe maker

James married Ann Simpson (abt1838-1894) in the spring of 1858 at Leicester. Census returns identify two children.

  • Annie Sophia (1859-1936) – a boot and shoe manufacturer
  • William Thomas (1861-1862)


Primitive Methodist Magazine 1906/490

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers


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