Spooner, Jabez (1820-1912)

Transcription of obituary published in the Primitive Methodist Magazine by W.L.S.

On Saturday, August, 31st, this venerable yet juvenile soul passed on beyond, having completed his ninety-second year. In Primrose Farmhouse, Lyng, Norfolk, he was born, on July 8th, 1820. His parents being Wesleyans, he was brought up to attend the Wesleyan Chapel in the village. When a Primitive Methodist Society was formed, however, he joined it, and in quiet persistence and growing usefulness went forward. 

Miss Loveday, who afterwards became his wife, was also one of the founders of this cause. As a local preacher in the Mattishall Circuit, which afterwards became the East Dereham Circuit, he gave fifty years of ungrudging service. In the Sunday School, started mainly through his efforts, he held the position of superintendent for thirty years. Out of that school Jesse Spooner, William Loveday Spooner (sons), and Hudson Cooper went into the ministry.

That the Church has gained, if not in flaming splendour, yet in solid service, through our venerable father’s connection with it, is clear from the fact that all the family surviving have been workers and are still in active service:—Mrs. Lane, widow of the late George Lane, who did fine service for many years in connection with our cause at Wymondham; Mrs. France, wife of Rev: F.C. France, and mother of Rev. E.S. France; Mrs. Bennett, wife of Rev. H. Bennett and mother of Mrs. Hill, wife of Rev. A. Hill; Mrs. Stone, wife of Mr. H.G. Stone, Circuit Steward and able local preacher in Wymondham Circuit; and Mrs. Hemp, daughter of W.L. Spooner, and wife of Mr. W.J. Hemp, who, through nervous breakdown has been recently compelled to retire from a ministry full of promise. 

Nor is the family blind to the good it has gained from the Primitive Methodist Church, and its members are proud of the solid, yet unpretentious service rendered to the denomination by the nobly simple devotion of the parent soul. His appointment as a Deed Poll member by the Grimsby Conference of 1899 was an honour much appreciated by Mr. Spooner. After retiring from farm life, Jabez Spooner served as hired local preacher on Docking, Clacton and York First CIrcuits. 

As a preacher he was decidedly Biblical, his quotations from Scripture being a most conspicuous feature of his sermons. Said a friend to the writer many years ago, “We cannot criticise your father’s preaching; it is nearly all Bible.” He loved books, and to the last he was youthful in outlook. He was too optimistic to allow changes of thought or questions of theology to depress him. He was radical in his Nonconformity, in social questions and in politics. In anything that tended to form and lift the people he was keenly interested. 

His love for the house of God was great. As long as he could he would attend every possible service. In him the preacher was sure of a sympathetic hearer. The tribute paid to him at the funeral service by Revs. A.T. Wardle and J.C. Mantripp was appreciative, just and impressive. The wealth of flowers sent by East Dereham Circuit officials, and the presence of some of those officials at the funeral were tributes sincerely given and by the family most heartily appreciated. As we put the ninety-two-year-old temple into the earthly sepulchre the tears would fall, yet we knew that it was only the shell in which a noble soul had lived; the soul now lives elsewhere, above, in the light of an unending day. He is not in the tomb; he is risen. He is gone yet still is here—here as an influence of high appeal, of noble stimulus. 

“Nor need we wait till some far ResurrecDay ;
. . . . . .  .As we know our Master ever near,
So may we know our father nigh, till we appear
Together were no clouds arise and all is clear.”


Jabez was born on 8 July 1820 at Lyng, Norfolk, to parents Willai Spooner and Maria. He was baptised on 21 July 1820 at Hackford by Reepham Wesleyan Chapel, Norfolk.

Census returns identify the following occupations for Jabez.

  • 1841 agricultural labourer
  • 1851 farming bailiff
  • 1861 farm bailiff
  • 1871 farm bailiff
  • 1881 farm bailiff 76 acres employing 2 men & one boy
  • 1891 retired farm bailiff
  • 1901 living on own means
  • 1911 retired farm bailiff

He married Mary Loveday (1820-1891) on 30 march 1845 at Lyng, Norfolk. Census returns identify six children.

  • Jesse (1846-1878) – a PM minister
  • William Loveday (1849-1931) – PM minister
  • Charlotte (1851-1922) – married George Lane, a tailor & outfitter (1901), in 1874
  • Jane (1854-1943) – a dressmaker (1871); married Francis Coates France, a PM minister, in 1882
  • Mary (1856-1935) – married Henry Bennett, a PM ministering 1884
  • Margaret (1861-1936) – married Henry Gilling Stone, a letterpress printer (1911), in 1889

Jabez died on  31 August 1912 at Wymondham, Norfolk.


Primitive Methodist Magazine 1913/162

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

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