Westbrooke, Brownlow (1822-1875) - local preacher

Brownlow Westbrooke was born in 1822 in Droxford, Hampshire, where his father was a blacksmith and parish clerk. He worked as a coachbuilder, moving around southern England, but according to a Primitive Methodist jubilee history, was “awakened” after being invited by a fellow worker to the Coopers Gardens chapel in London in the late 1840s. “Experiencing the joy of salvation shortly afterwards, he united with the Society. On his removal to Dorsetshire [probably later in the 1850s] he became an energetic local preacher. Removing to a part of the county where Primitive Methodism had not been established, he opened his own house for preaching, and in face of much opposition and persecution – during which he was prevented from obtaining any place in which to preach – assisted by his son, he spoke to the people in the open air, and was instrumental in leading many to the Lord.” In 1869, though he had left the church of his father, he was none the less appointed as a parish overseer in Wickham, Hampshire, responsible for poor relief.

His eldest son, Brownlow James Westbrooke, became a full-time minister in the church and in 1872 was posted to New Zealand. The following year, his parents and their other children followed, arriving in Invercargill in the south of the country, and Brownlow senior “connected himself with the infant Church, and took a hearty share in its work”. When his son was posted further north, he remained as a local preacher in the south. The climate there is testing, however, and 18 months later Brownlow died at 52, of “double pneumonia”. The history notes: “In the land of his adoption Mr. Westbrooke served the Connexion faithfully as a local preacher and assistant class-leader. He was a good man, a zealous labourer in the temperance cause, and a lover of the kingdom of God.”

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