Barkworth, Mary (nee Ball) (1810-1860)

Transcription of obituary published in the Primitive Methodist Magazine by Hugh Campbell

MARY BARKWORTH, whose maiden name was Ball, of Keelby, Grimsby Circuit, was born at Belper, Derbyshire, April 11th, 1810. When about ten years old she was brought to a saving knowledge of the truth under the ministry of the Primitive Methodists at Belper, and embraced the first opportunity of uniting with the people who had been instrumental in her conversion. She commenced a career of piety and usefulness seldom found in a person so young. The love of God was manifested in all her conduct; she devoted herself assiduously to the cultivation of personal religion, and recommended it to others by an expression of it in her own life. She was appointed a teacher in the Sabhath-school, and at the age of fifteen her name was put on the local preachers’ plan. She was zealous and efficient in the discharge of her duties, and well instructed in the things pertaining to the kingdom of God,

In 1832 she was taken out to travel by the Belper Circuit. After labouring in that station one year and ten months, she also travelled in Louth, Grimsby, and Whitby Circuits.

She enjoyed much of the spirit, and followed closely in the steps of her Divine Master. The spread of religion was a subject that lay near her heart, and whatever contributed to man’s happiness and the glory of God was highly gratifying to her. This appeared to be the supreme end of her life. She was well acquainted with the mystery of faith, and knew the benefit thereof in the hour of spiritual conflict. In holy travail and deep sympathy of heart, she accompanied through the sorrows of the new birth, into the joys of God’s salvation, many precious souls, who will be the crown of her rejoicing in the day of the Lord. She was an able minister of the New Testament.

Notwithstanding all the objections that have been made to females holding forth the word of life to their fellowmen, we have no doubt
“But in the great decisive day,
When God the nations shall survey,”
it will be found that the public ministry of holy women has been blessed to many.

In 1837 she gave up travelling, and was married to Mr. T. Barkworth, who found in her a helpmeet indeed. Her name was put on the local preachers’ plan, and she was made instrumental in bringing many souls to God. She had a good knowledge of the Scriptures, and her appeals were solemn, earnest, affectionate, and powerful. Her religion taught her to rejoice with those who rejoiced, and weep with those who wept. In cases of difficulty she was a prudent and safe counsellor, in times of trouble she rested on the Rock of her salvation. For several years she was a class leader. Her attendance at the means of grace, when circumstances would allow, was punctual; the house of God and the services thereof were her delight.

About three years before her death the cloud of adversity darkened around her, which led her for a few months to withdraw from society; but even then the fervour of her devotion and the assurance of her adoption magnified the grace of God. He who had long been the strength of her heart again enabled her to lift up the standard of the cross; but her constitution at last gave way. The disease which terminated her earthly career was a cancer in the breast. Means were used to check the progress of the malady, but the symptoms assumed a formidable aspect. She attended her appointments on the plan as long as she was able. Her breast was taken off in June, 1859, and she hoped to recover; but her days were numbered. The wound healed, but the pain on the nerves was so severe that for several nights she could not close her eyes in sleep. As, in her health, meditating on the sufferings and mediation of Christ had imparted peace and joy to her soul; so, during her protracted illness, the same subject afforded her great consolation.

About three weeks before her death the enemy of her soul harassed her very much. On one occasion she said, “I fear I shall come short at last; but the Lord came to her help, and delivered her, and she exclaimed, “Yes, it comes at last.” She continued from that time to enjoy a confident hope of glory. She felt much about leaving her husband and family, but Divine grace enabled her to say, “Thy will be done.”

I visited her a few days before her death, and found her conversation was sound and scriptural, attended by an assurance of her acceptance with God through the atonement of Christ, and leading to that experimental intercourse with a reconciled Father which is inspired and sustained by filial confidence. As she neared her heavenly home, she said to her husband, who had faithfully attended to her, “I cannot tell you how it is, I am so happy. Oh! how I love you all.” Her soul was filled with unutterable joy. The night before her death she was constantly looking to the top of the bed with a smile, as if she saw celestial beings descending to bear her spirit to the mansions of bliss. In this happy state of mind on the 11th of February, 1860, she exchanged earth for heaven.

Thus lived and died one in whom the virtues and graces which adorn the female mind were manifested in a high degree. By her removal the Church has lost a useful member, the ministers a kind friend, her husband an affectionate wife, and her four children a most tender mother. May they all meet her in heaven.


Mary was born on 11 April 1810 at Belper, Derbyshire. I have not been able to determine her parents. On her marriage record the space to identify her father is left blank.

Mary married Thomas Edwards Barkworth (1816-1893), a tailor, on 3 August 1837 at Hatcliff, Lincolnshire. Census returns identify four children.

  • Ann Eliza (b1839) – married William Wilkinson, an agricultural labourer, in 1862
  • Caleb (1840-1903) – a pork butcher (1901)
  • Hannah (1845-1868) – married Albert Wardale in 1864
  • George (1847-1907) – a tailor (1861); emigrated to Canada in 1865; a dry goods clerk (1891); committed suicide

Mary died on 11 February 1860 at Keelby, Lincolnshire.

Thomas married Mary Hopwood in 1864 at York.


  • 1833 Belper
  • 1834 Louth & Grimsby
  • 1835 Grimsby
  • 1836 Whitby
  • 1837 Louth


Primitive Methodist Magazine 1860/329

W Leary, Directory of Primitive Methodist Ministers and their Circuits, 1990

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

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