Transcription of obituary published in the Primitive Methodist Magazine by Reuben Brown
ANN Milward, died October 14th, 1859, in the seventy-eighth year of her age. She was the daughter of William and Dorothy Milward, and was born April 9th, 1781, in Alstonefield, Leek Circuit. She was religiously educated, according to the tenets of the Church of England, which happily had a salutary effect on the morals of her youth, and up to the age of twenty-nine, she was always recognized as a good church woman, and she herself supposed, that, since Jesus Christ had died for sinners; duty and obedience were the virtues which secured heaven, not having learnt, that by the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified. In 1810, she was induced to go and hear a Baptist minister preach, who occasionally visited Alstonefield, and the first time while sitting under his ministry, the word came with power to her heart, a storm of accusations of conscience arose.
“And plunged her in despair.”
She discovered that the law was spiritual, and herself “carnal, sold under sin.” When the service was ended, she returned home mourning in deep distress. Subsequently, while pleading with God in her bedroom for pardoning mercy, through Jesus Christ, He gave unto her “beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;” and being now justified by faith, she had peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, and with Wesley could say.—
“My God is reconciled” &e.
Mr. John Benton, one of our first missionaries, visited the neighbourhood, she heard him preach, and the word was marrow and fatness to her soul. After preaching, Mr. Benton proposed to the congregation to form a society, when ten persons gave in their names for membership, of whom our sister was one; for she having understood, to some extent, the privileges of the means of grace to the members, with Ruth she concluded, thy people shall be my people; this took place in a very early period of our beloved Connexion. She had not long sat under our brethren in the ministry, before the doctrine of entire sanctification awakened in her soul an earnest and holy desire for its possession, and frequently in the day time, she retired to one of her father’s buildings to wrestle with the Almighty for the blessing; till ultimately the glory over-shadowed her, and she was assured in her heart that she had prevailed. Subsequently, a travailing in birth for immortal souls seized her spirit, till she became embarrassed to understand what it meant, that her heart should be so heavily pressed with grief by day, and that she should be affrighted with dreams by night, about the salvation and safety of others, from sin and its consequences, while as it regarded her own salvation, her peace flowed as a river.
About that time, the late Mr. Hugh Bourne visited Alstonefield, and after some conversation with him on spiritual things, she told him her distress of mind, to which he replied, “O! you are travailing in birth for sinners!’ and he then quoted several portions of inspiration, which seemed to her to corroborate his assertion. Mr. Bourne then appointed her class leader of the society at Warslow, and he became so fully assured in his own mind that God had called her to preach the Gospel, that he appointed her to take an appointment at Stonepithill, in the parish of Sheen. The thoughts of preaching the Gospel oppressed her mind, but after much prayer to God, she concluded that if the Lord blessed her and owned her labours at Stonepithill, she would give herself to the work, and so it was; an eye witness told me that there was a shaking among the dry bones, for the Holy Spirit fell on the congregation while she was preaching, so that the prophet’s exhortation was promptly obeyed by the believers, where he says, “Cry out and shout thou inhabitant of Zion, for great is the holy One of Israel in the midst of thee.” On this occasion the matron of the preaching house was converted. Thus credentialled by her Master for His work, she continued therein for many years, as much as opportunity allowed, and as long as physical strength enabled her to do so. Her father’s farm ultimately fell into her hands; she never having entered into the marriage state, she was obliged to care about many things, for her sister and brother-in-law both dying, left her with their two young orphan boys, who now lament their loss of so kind an aunt. It was about two years after her conversion, that her initials appeared on the plan as the second female preacher in the Connexion, but I am informed that she was the first female whose surname appeared in full on the Connexion’s plan, after preaching her trial sermon at Tunstall, when Jehovah again, in the presence of the elders of the Church (or Connexion), signed her credentials by the conversion of a Mr. Steel.
I know not whether to call her a local or a travelling preacher, or a missionary, for in the winter seasons, when she, the dairy maid, could be spared from her father’s home, she would go for two or three months at a time, preaching daily at places already opened, and successfully opening many others in the counties of Stafford and Derby, which now constitute the Tunstall, Ramsor, Belper, Winster, and other circuits. But space will not allow us to detail the many extraordinary meetings, and numerous conversions, which took place under her ministry; still, like Mr. Brownson, of Brelsford, father of the Rev. John Brownson, one of our itinerant ministers, many may call her mother. Though her sermons might not be considered systematic, yet it must be acknowledged she was often eloquent in speech, and she was mighty in the Scriptures; add to these features of her Christian and ministerial character, her abiding deep piety, and unimpeachable morals for forty-nine years, during which time she never disgraced her profession. For nearly half a century, she was a burning and shining light; had her life been protracted till the coming summer, she might with the Connexion, have celebrated her jubilee in the Lord Jesus Christ. But,—
“She sings the lamb in hymns above,
And we in hymns below.”
On my last visit to her, which was the day before her death, I found her as usual, “All right.” The circumstance, she said, which had given her so much pain of mind, she had entirely given into the hands of the Lord, namely, the non-conversion of her two nephews. Oh may they yield obedience to the Saviour, and meet her in heaven.
Primitive Methodist Magazine 1860/78