Smith, John (1824-1901)
Transcription of Obituary in the Christian Messenger
The Brighton Circuit has just sustained a great loss by the death of Mr. John Smith.
He was almost a unique figure in Sussex and Brighton Primitive Methodism, as he was said to be a Trustee of all our chapels in the above county and town.
He was born at Falmer, in Sussex, on August 7th, 1824, and when quite a lad removed to Ditchling, Sussex, where a few years later he was converted under the preaching of the Gospel by our ministers. He left there, and came to live in Brighton, where he was a class leader and local preacher for over fifty years.
He was Superintendent of the Broad Street and Islingword Road Schools, and in 1887, when High Street Church was built, he became a member there, it being nearer his home, and was its Society Steward until his death, which took place after one week’s illness on February 20th, 1901.
He was buried in the Extra Mural Cemetery by the side of his wife and second daughter, the writer taking the service at the grave. A memorial service was held previous in the Queen’s Park Road Church. There was a large attendance of officials from the neighbouring circuits, of our own members, and the friends of the various churches in the town, for the deceased was honoured and respected by all who knew him, and he was one of the best-known Christians in “the city by the sea.” The. Rev. J. Newton Graham, of Croydon, Mr. T.W. Deeley, of Plumpton, his old friends, and the Rev. Joseph Olport, the Wesleyan Super took part in the service. The Circuit Steward, Alderman Lowther, J.P., gave an address, and spoke of the consistent life and worthy character of deceased, whom he had known for over twenty years as being one of the brightest ornaments in our Brighton Societies.
The writer preached the memorial service in Queen’s Park Road Church from the words in 2 Timothy iv., v. 7, to a large and sympathetic congregation.
Among the very many splendid characteristics of our late brother and friend may be mentioned the following – that the all-absorbing work of his life was Christian, “for Him to live was Christ.”
He was very fond of little children, and never seemed happier than when they were gathered around him and he was telling them of the good things that Christ had to give them. In his last illness consciousness could only be effected by speaking loudly to him, yet the mention of Jesus and His work roused him instantly, and several times he repeated John iii., v. I6, a text he especially loved.
Our deceased brother had a distinct individuality, and his faith in God, and his child-like confidence, will he a very pleasant memory and help to many who knew him.
His house was the home of our young ministers for a number of years, and I will quote a passage from the letter of one of them (which is only a sample of the many kind things said in the numerous letters of sympathy received by his daughter): “Your father was a man of profound piety and deep faith in God. Our cause in Brighton has had few friends so firm and constant, and I feel sure that the church will treasure his memory as not the least of her saints for many a day to come.” He was a joyful Christian, and one young man who lived in his home some years has written, “The effects of his jolly life and consistent living will ever remain an influence for good.”
His earthly ministry is closed – his cheery Christian life and confidence in God is ended here, but still is carried on in the higher service, and his life of evenness and his sound Christian commonsense and love for the saving truths of the old Gospel will be remembered by many, and I trust will prove an incentive to those of us who are left behind to follow him, as he followed his Master.
“Were a star quenched on high,
For ages would its light
Still travelling downward from the sky,
Shine on our mortal sight.
So when the good man dies,
For years beyond our ken
The light he leaves behind him lies
Upon the paths of men.”
Census returns identify the following occupations for John.
- 1851 porter to wine merchant
- 1861 cellerman
- 1871 clerk & cellerman
- 1881 cellerman
- 1891 postman
John married Mary Ann Lashmar (abt 1824-1891) in late 1845 at Brighton, Sussex. Census returns identify four children.
- Mary Ann (b abt1847)
- John (b1848) – a pork butcher (1881)
- Ellen (b1853)
- Alice Amelia (1859-1939) – a pianoforte teacher (1901)
Christian Messenger 1902/127
Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers