Rains, James (1827-1902)

Transcription of Obituary in the Primitive Methodist Magazine by Wm. Radnor

“The memory of the just is blessed.” These words seem to have a special significance in the case of our brother, who, at the age of seventy-five, fell asleep in Jesus, and by whose departure Ashbourne Circuit sustained a great loss. James Rains came of a godly ancestry; both his father and mother were members of our Ible Society in Winster Circuit – hence his early life was spent amid helpful surroundings and spiritual fellowships – the dawn of his career was made fragrant by the sanctity of a Christian home, where he learned truths and imbibed principles to which he remained steadfast unto the end.

He was born at “Griff-Grange” in 1827, where he lived a pure, industrious, and dutiful life. When twenty years of age his conversion took place at Ible. He then fully surrendered himself to the Lord, and entered whole-hearted into Christian worship and work, so that the hymn beginning “A charge to keep I have, A God to glorify” may be regarded as voicing the spirit and purpose of his life, for he was true to the “high-calling in Christ Jesus.” This young farmer, who had “kept his father’s sheep,” was early called to be the King’s Ambassador, and for over fifty years Mr. Rains was an acceptable local preacher, faithfully witnessing for his Divine Master, and manifesting to the last unswerving attachment to God and the house of prayer. Duty had the first place in his career. With zeal above his strength he toiled diligently at his profession as a farmer, and with unfaltering devotion discharged his duties as a follower of Jesus Christ, and an official of the circuit, in which he also served as a class leader, Sunday school teacher, trustee, treasurer, society and circuit steward. The claims of religion and Primitive Methodism were to him paramount, for the triumph of the former and the prosperity of the latter he was ever solicitous, while his strong desire for his station’s spiritual, numerical and financial success found frequent expressions. His faith in God and His word was strong, and when delivering his Master’s message in various places, he had the joy of leading many to accept Christ as their Saviour. Some of the number had gone before him to the “Homeland,” but others, still with us, testify that “he was the man who pointed them to the Lamb of God, and won their powers for Divine service.” In age and feebleness, Mr. Rains still loved to declare the Gospel that saves men, hence on November 23rd he preached at Wirksworth, the following Thursday he was taken seriously ill, had to put aside the insignia of labour and battle, then it seemed that he made haste to be with Christ and receive His “Well-done,” for early on Friday, December 5th, his redeemed spirit passed through the gates into the city of God. As regards his home life; piety, love, patience, fidelity, hospitality, influence and authority were blended there as in the wider circles of Christly service and commercial activity he was always the Christian gentleman. His personal and business characteristics included carefulness, industry, meekness, kindness, courtesy, goodness, liberality, and the consecration of his best talents to the Church that won him for Jesus. In business affairs he was sound in judgment, cautious, upright, faithful, strictly honest and practical. Hence he held office as Surveyor of Highways, Guardian of the Poor for the Ashbourne and Belper Unions, Rural District Councillor, and for seventeen years was Chairman of Ecclesbourne and Wirksworth branch of Derbyshire Dairy Farmers’ Association. Mr. Rains has left a widow and seven children to mourn their unexpected loss, but the thick sorrow-cloud is parted by the golden light of an immortal hope which points definitely to the land of glad re-unions and painless existence. His three sons and one daughter are Primitive Methodist local preachers, the other daughters, with their husbands, are in church fellowship and work.
“So when at last they reach that place,
To Christ’s own servants given,
They will rejoice, no wanderer lost,
A family in Heaven.”

His own circuit’s quarterly meeting, together with a letter of sympathy, sent the following resolution to his widow and family:
“That we record our sincere esteem for Mr. Rains’ character and personal worth and our high appreciation of the valuable services which he rendered to this circuit as its steward for several years, the financial help readily and generously given whenever deficiencies occurred. His great regard for the station’s prosperity; its minister, officials and members, together with his intelligence, consistency, devotion and earnestness, made us admire him and will in the years to come be remembered by us with a deep sense of gratitude.”

The Nottingham District Committee forwarded, through its secretary, Rev. G.G. Martindale, a resolution of condolence, including the following terms:-
“We deeply regret to learn of the death of Mr. James Rains of Kirk-Ireton, who was for many years an honoured member of this committee. He held positions of honour and responsibility with credit and satisfaction. We recall with pleasure the sterling qualities embodied in his Christian and manly character, exhibited in his business affairs and domestic life, and rejoice at the extensive influence which he wielded in the interests of Christian discipleship and citizenship.”

Besides these and other official tributes, letters came from many ministers and friends, speaking words of sympathy, hope, and admiration, and telling of the writers’ assurance that he was “a good man, full of faith and of the Holy Ghost,” who had lived and died more than conqueror, and would await beyond the gates of pearl, in the morning land, those with whom he had trusted, loved and laboured while serving down here in God’s vineyard.


James was born to parents John, a farmer, and Hannah.

Census returns identify the following occupations for James.

  • 1851 son employed on farm
  • 1861 farmer of 49 acres
  • 1871 farmer employing 2 men & 1 boy
  • 1881 farmer of 128 acres employing 2 boys; local Methodist preacher
  • 1891 farmer
  • 1901 farmer

James married Eliza Ann White Marchington (abt1833-1915) on 12 July 1860 at Wirksworth, Derbyshire. Census returns identify seven children.

  • Hannah Mary (b1862) – married Thomas Williams, an ironmonger, in 1894
  • Elizabeth (1863-1931) – married George Fearn, a farmer & cattle dealer (1901), in 1890
  • John (b abt1866) – a farmer
  • Joseph (1867-1943) – a butcher & dairy farmer (1911)
  • Ann Eliza (b1869) – married Thomas Henry Jeffrey in 1899
  • Lydia (1871-1962) – married Samuel Wood, a farmer, in 1903
  • James (1872-1930) – a farmer

James died on 5 December 1902 at Alton, Derbyshire.


Primitive Methodist Magazine 1904/411

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

Comments about this page

  • For clarification: James died at Alton Hall farm, Kirk Ireton. Not to be confused with Alton a village in Staffordshire.

    By David Leese (04/03/2018)

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