Blackburn, Alfred (1844-1871)

Transcription of obituary published in the Primitive Methodist Magazine by Thomas Smith (2nd)

“Nipp’d by the wind’s untimely blast,
Parch’d by the sun’s directer ray,
The momentary glories waste,
The short-lived beauties die away.”

ALFRED, son of the Rev. J. BLACKBURN, was born at Louth, Lincolnshire, Oct. 5th, 1844, and died April 24th, 1871. His parents being in our itinerancy he removed with them to the following stations: Leeds, Bradford Middleham, Belfast, Wrexham, and Lancaster. In his journal, while at the last-mentioned place, he says: “I was converted to God on a memorable Sabbath evening in the year 1856, being then twelve years of age. I mentioned my state of mind to my mother; mother mentioned it to father as soon as he returned from preaching in the street, after conducting evening service in the chapel.” And they together, father, mother, and Alfred, in their own house, bowed their knees in solemn, humble prayer to God, that the sins of their child might be forgiven; and while thus engaged he was made a new creature, and found peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. He at once joined the church, and under the pious instruction and care of his parents grew up in the favour of God and man.

It soon became evident he was destined for future usefulness. In 1862 (his father then travelling at Eynsbury) Alfred’s name was put on the plan to take appointments. Three months after this, his father’s health failing, the family removed to Bradford. In 1868, having satisfactorily passed his examination as a travelling-preacher candidate, he was stationed for Hoyland circuit. Here he laboured with all his might, and made a lasting impression upon many who listened to him. His superintendent, the Rev. S.B. Reynolds, writes as follows: “I was deeply affected on receiving the intelligence of the death of my late and esteemed friend and colleague, Alfred Blackburn. I knew him when a child, and became more intimate with him in his manhood when he came to travel with me at Hoyland. I found him a good labourer; his heart was in the work; he thought no labour too much that his hale frame could endure; to work for God was his delight. He was a diligent student, an acceptable preacher, clear and sound in his views of the plan of salvation. He was remarkably conscientious in all his actions; he scorned a mean action, and avoided it himself. He was a true type of a manly Christian.”

The Conference of 1869 stationed him for Dewsbury; here he laboured with acceptance and success until his health failed, and he was obliged to find shelter and comfort under the parental roof. Of his labours in Dewsbury station, and the opinions formed of him by his colleagues, we have the same testimony as from Hoyland. On his return to Bradford 2nd station, he again engaged as a local preacher, teacher, assistant leader, and secretary, and honoured all his engagements.

He was confined to his bed only fourteen days; consumption then had nearly done its work, but not a murmur escaped his lips. He enjoyed the company of friends, but especially that of ministers whom he esteemed highly for their works’ sake. The last Sabbath he spent on earth we visited him, and conversed, and prayed, and sang with him. All seemed bright and heavenly, and while singing the verse:—

“When shall I reach that happy place,
And be for ever bless’d,
When shall I see my Father’s face
And in his bosom rest,” 

he lifted his hands, and exclaimed, ‘‘I hope before six o’clock this evening.” In this happy frame of mind he continued until the spirit returned to God who gave it.

Few parents have been called upon to resign two young pious men so early as our friends Mr. and Mrs. Blackburn, but they have been enabled by grace to say, “Thy will be done. May they meet their loved ones in heaven where all is calm, and joy, and peace.


Alfred was born on 5 October 1844 at Louth, Lincolnshire, to parents John Blackburn, a PM minister, and Mary Wilkinson.

Before entering the ministry Alfred was a general merchant’s clerk (1861)

After leaving the ministry, Alfred worked as a book-keeper (1871).

Alfred died on 24 April 1871 at Bradford, Yorkshire.


  • 1868 Hoyland
  • 1869 Dewsbury


Primitive Methodist Magazine 1872/564

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

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

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