Raycord, John Henry (Harry) (1868-1944)
Transcription of an article published in the Primitive Methodist Magazine in the series “Wonderful Conversions” by Rev F.R. Brunskill
THE answer to the fervent and effectual prayers of his pious parents came in a manner most unexpected, and our friend—Harry Raycord—sees now that his conversion must have been a miracle. As a youth he was a prodigal in all his ways and spent his life in riotous debaucheries. His relatives were enthusiastic members of the Salvation Army, and they did all that faith and religious pleading could do to save him; but all seemed in vain. He seemed as though he were bound to the service of Satan as by a cart rope. But God is faithful to His promise and the answer to the many years of praying and pleading was given in the devil’s territory, and the helpless victim’s emancipation was won in Grainger’s Lane Church vestry in Cradley Heath. It occurred in this wise:
It was Tuesday night, and Harry Raycord with some of his “pals” was in the “Reindeer” public house, drinking. He had, as usual, been there regularly every night for months past and the landlord encouraged him to spend his wages. From the Saturday to Tuesday he had spent 27s. 4d., and for several years regularly spent from 15s. to £1 per week on drink. His wages were good, as he was a skilful anchor-smith and could earn large sums of money if he cared to His main thought was “drink”! and he had any number of loafing parasites who knew how to drink at his expense. The wonder is how he stood such a life, for he is small in stature and spare in build, and his work exceedingly hot and exhausting. He confesses now that it was beginning to undermine his constitution and nervous system.
On this particular Tuesday night he was penniless, the landlord had got his entire week’s earnings and his wife and children were destitute. But he must have more drink!
“Fill me a pint, boss, and I’ll pay thee on Saturday!”
“No!” the landlord snorted.
“What?” shouted Raycord; “what’s that thee says?”
The landlord repeated his bluff refusal.
“All right, then, thee’ll be glad to fill the next pint I ask thee for,” and he turned to go out.
One of his mates tried to stop him and offered to pay, but Raycord stepped out into the street scarcely knowing what he did.
There was a week-night service in progress in the vestry of our Church and the preacher was astonished by the arrival of Raycord in his moleskins and grime just as he had left his work. The preacher noticed that his eyes were full of tears, and his countenance was that of a man broken-hearted and needing tender compassion.
“I’ve come to start a new life,” the poor fellow cried, “and if God will forgie’ me I’ll begin now,” and he sank down and sobbed his way into the kingdom; the few faithful souls at the little service gathered round him and prayed and wept and sang; and the poor fellow at last saw the light and realised that God was his Friend and Redeemer and that in the strength of Jesus he could walk the new way of life in peace and joy. That was how he found salvation.
But his new start in life was beset with great difficulties. All his associates in evil laughed and sneered when they knew what had happened. He signed the pledge and has never tasted drink since; his companions watched him closely to tempt him, but Raycord stood firm in the strength of God. He lost seventeen pounds’ weight the first four months after his conversion, and the “strikers” in the shop saw how thin he grew and cried,
“Oh! it will soon kill thee, ‘Rake,’ as thee keeps goin’ to chapel.”
Nothing daunted, he trusted in God and triumphed. He had no clothes at his conversion except his moleskins, and his mates pointed to this as they saw him on his way to the chapel. But on the second Sunday he was dressed in a new suit and this he paid for with money which the publican would have had. Then there was the subtle temptation of going into the country for a walk instead of going to every service at the chapel. But in this temptation his foreman at the works—Joseph Poole—helped him.
Joseph Poole went to his house for him every time there was anything going on at the chapel and never let him rest. In this way Raycord cultivated a religious habit that has been God’s opportunity of strengthening his soul. Would to God that we had more Joseph Pooles in our Church!
It was not long before our friend found a sphere of Christian service, and the Sunday School found him work to do that gave him confidence. He is now settled to a work that few thought was possible to him. He is the teacher and superintendent of the Infant department and has 122 scholars on the books. His skill in winning the hearts and attention of the little children is wonderful. He has a natural gift for drawing and his pictures on the blackboard are among the great attractions of the school. He studies his lessons thoroughly every day during the week and wins his scholars by sympathy and love. A little child, one of his scholars, asked her mother to send for Mr. Raycord before she died, that she might say the Golden Text and sing her little hymn to him.
This happened quite recently, and as he said, it was the first visible fruit of his humble labours for Christ and His Kingdom. He realises how great his responsibility is as he endeavours to turn the tender feet of the little children into ways of truth and right. He is thirty-eight years of age, and is now healthy and strong—the result of three years’ sober life. He toils hard to make up for lost time and he looks upon the future with a radiant hope. His great aim in life is to be known as a real, honest, living disciple of Jesus Christ and to make his life bear testimony to the miracle of Divine Grace of three years ago. We rejoice in his redemption and pray for his continued experience of Divine strength that he may be used in the service of God in his Church. This miracle of the healed man cannot be disputed. It is notoriously true—the glory of the saint, the confusion of the sinner.
Harry was born on 12 July 1868 at Rowley Regis, Staffordshire, to parents John Raycord, a coal miner (1881), and Mary Pearson
As identified above, harry spent his working life as an anchor smith.
He married Amelia Maria Probert (1869-1948) on 1 May 1887 at St Luke’s, Reddal-Hills, Staffordshire. Census returns identify three children.
- Joseph (1889-1960) – a ship’s tackle maker (1911); (light) council work (1939)
- Wifred (1892-1930) – a bricklayer’s labourer (1911)
- Mary Hannah (Annie) (1903-1984) – married Frank Griffiths in 1951
Harry died in the summer of 1944 at Rowley Regis, Staffordshire.
Primitive Methodist Magazine 1909/101
Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers
Note: Early records spell the surname ‘Record’