Varty, Mary Ann (nee Briggs) (1849-1903)

Transcription of Obituary in the Primitive Methodist Magazine by J.S. Nightingale

In the removal by death of Sister M.A. Varty, the Lemington-on-Tyne Circuit generally and the Lemington Church in particular have suffered no mean loss. She was born near the city of Durham, in the year 1849, and although belonging to a family associated with the Established Church, and herself for a time an adherent, in the year 1877, after a sermon preached by the Rev. M.P. Davison, she was led definitely to devote herself to the service of Jesus Christ, and became a Primitive Methodist. How ungrudgingly she served, the years following her conversion revealed.

Residing with her father at Rowlands Gill, and there being no Primitive Methodist Church in the village, she prepared the way for services being held, and was eventually largely responsible for the erection of the first Primitive Methodist place of worship there. From 1878 to 1881 she held the offices of society steward and catechism class leader, and it was only when the Church was growing in numbers and strength, and against the wishes of the society, that she resigned in order that some brother might be appointed to the office. United in marriage to Bro. M. Varty, one of our honoured local preachers, she came to Lemington, and for sixteen years no more ardent worker or consistent disciple of Jesus Christ could be found in the Church. Entering into the project of building a new church, she was most unremitting in her efforts, and the building to-day is a memorial of her industry, along with others who have passed to rest and some who are still with us. And so she went in and out amongst the people of God in the Church, ministering to need wherever she found it, often toiling beyond her strength in her anxiety for the prosperity of Zion and well-being of her fellows.

The call to the Higher service came sooner than any of her friends imagined, but it found a spirit ripe and ready, with no fear of death, since she had lived so well. And on September 5th, 1903, having served her generation, by the will of God she fell asleep at the age of fifty-four years. Although her sudden demise came as a shock to all, we thanked God in our sorrow and sense of loss, for a life so noble, and while so quiet and unassuming, an example so worthy in many respects of imitation. Without being perfect, having her limitations as others, she lived to be greatly missed and revered by all who knew her, and the memory of her worth and work will ever be cherished by her co-workers in the Lemington Church. Transparently sincere, unfeignedly genial, ungrudgingly sacrificing in her spirit and conduct, it may truly be affirmed, “she was a burning and shining light, and hath done what she could.” Her mortal remains were laid in the Blaydon Cemetery, the service being conducted by the Revs. A. Latimer and J.S. Nightingale. A memorial service was held in the church at Lemington, conducted by the writer, a large congregation assembling to pay a last tribute to a worthy, godly woman, whose spirit had passed to the land of eternal light. May the grace and comfort of the Divine Father be given to the husband and daughter of the departed one, and when the last battle is fought and victory won, may we join her in the Father’s everlasting habitation, where the day has dawned and where no shadows ever darken the sky.


Mary was born in 1849 at Framwellgate, Durham, Co. Durham, to parents George, a joiner, and Ann.

She married Matthew Varty (abt1844-1918) in early 1887 in the Gateshead Registration District.

Matthew had a daughter, Jane Esther, a school teacher, from a previous marriage. Matthew was a coal miner and later became an overman and coal mine manager.


Primitive Methodist Magazine 1904/994

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