Transcription of obituary published in the Primitive Methodist Magazine by Samuel Antliff
GEORGE BOOTH. The great principles of Christianity are never more distinctly apprehended than when exemplified in the deportment of those who “have been saved by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost ”— who “have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him ”— who “walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit “— and who “by love serve one another.” Those who exemplify these Christian principles “are manifestly declared to be the epistles of Christ, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in the fleshly tables of the heart.” These epistles are “known and read of all.” But death reigns; and these epistles successively. disappear; and hence the necessity of biography. We will, therefore, briefly depict the character and narrate the course of George Booth, who was one of the “epistles of Christ,” and whose pious life afforded a clear practical illustration of Christian principle.
He was born March 30th, 1805, at Emley, Barnsley circuit, Yorkshire, His father lived without religion till he was on his death-bed, when, it is believed, he found salvation. His mother is still living, and has for many years been preparing to meet her Redeemer in the paradise of God. She is a member of that Connexion of churches in which her son was a useful minister.
It is the duty of fathers to bring up their children “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” But, when fathers have neglected to “command their children and their household after them, to keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment,” how many mothers have succeeded in doing this? The faith that is in the son often dwelt first in the mother. When mothers imitate Eunice, sons frequently resemble Timothy. In the present instance, Mrs. Booth took her son with her to a love-feast held in a Methodist chapel, and that son was converted to God. This took place February 18th, 1822, It is not needful to delineate his previous character. It had been similar to that of most other persons who have not the fear of God before their eyes. But when he saw his exceeding sinfulness, and sought “redemption in the blood of Christ, even the forgiveness of sins,” it was not in vain. He found that God was “plenteous in mercy and ready to forgive.” “Being justified by faith, he had peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: by whom also he had access by faith unto that grace wherein” he stood the remainder of his days, “and rejoiced in hope of the glory of God.” He was constitutionally grave and earnest; and these characteristics were distinguishable in his religious life. He was a very devout, prayerful, and godly man.
So far as deep-toned, practical, consistent piety could fit him, he was eminently fitted to be a minister. His undoubted, vigorous, changeless piety, coupled with some apparent ability to speak publicly, caused his early religious friends to put him on the plan as a local preacher; and, after labouring in the capacity of one for some time, he was taken into the regular ministry by Chesterfield circuit. This happened when he was about twenty-eight years of age, and about ten years after his conversion. From Chesterfield he removed to Belper, and from Belper to Retford, where he remained three years, and was greatly beloved and very useful. From Retford he removed to Welton, where he had to endure many of those severe trials which were the frequent lot of our travelling preachers in times past. Notwithstanding his hardships, he remained two years on the station, and was much esteemed by the poor people to whom he ministered. From Welton he removed to Nottingham circuit, where he remained but one year; and thence he went back to Chesterfield, and spent two more years with those among whom he began his regular ministry. He subsequently travelled on the Bottesford, Leicester, Ilkeston, Melton Mowbray, Boston, Uttoxeter, and Winster stations. He was an itinerant preacher twenty-one years. During that time he superintended the building of many Connexional chapels, and was successful in turning many sinners “from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God.” He was respected on every station, and on some very much beloved. His intellectual powers and literary acquirements were not of a high order; but “he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord.” His moral character was unimpeachable. He was “vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; one that ruled well his own house, having his child in subjection with all gravity.” His religion was experimental as well as practical. He communed with God in secret, as well as in his family and at the chapel. His secret prayers were neither heartless, nor few, nor short. He wrestled with God, and often prevailed. “He exercised himself to have a conscience void of offence towards God as well as towards man; and hence when he entered into his closet and approached the mercy-seat, his “heart did not condemn him;” and he knew that he was heard by God, “because he kept his commandments.” His “fellowship was with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.” He walked in the light as God is in the light; and the blood of Jesus Christ cleansed him from all sin. In his private diary, kept for his own use, and not written for the inspection of others, I find many records, illustrative of his holy ardour and intense desire for the salvation of souls, as well as of his own intercourse with God. In the year 1849 he made the following entries :
“Jan. 1. I began this day with much prayer and reading of the Scriptures. I received light and comfort from on high. In our family devotions we were blessed with much of the Divine presence. I visited eleven families, sought the wanderer, and preached at night.
“Jan. 2. Visited a few families, and preached with life and power. The Lord is stirring the people at Walsham.
“Jan. 3. Visited more than forty families, and prayed with them when I had an opportunity. Two of the afflicted could rejoice in the Lord, and were calmly awaiting his appearing. In preaching we were fayoured with a gracious unction. O that the Lord may save the people!
“Jan. 5. Walked fourteen miles. I was not very well; but I visited a few families, and preached with power. Many felt much, but did not cry for mercy. May the Lord save them !
“Jan. 6. Walked twenty miles and rode fifteen. The weather was cold and frosty, and snow was falling; but I found the presence of God on the journey. The Lord brought me safe to East Shilton circuit, where I saw three persons converted to God on the Sabbath. Brother Roberts saw two saved. Praise the Lord! this is what I delight in.
“Jan. 14, Attended a prayer-meeting in the morning; afterwards went to Scalford and assisted in holding a revival meeting; and before the meeting closed, four persons found salvation. We had hard fighting; but our faith tested on the promises, and the powers of darkness were driven back.
“Jan. 15. I was not very well; but after visiting a few families and exhorting the officials to love one another, I preached at Melton.
“Jan. 16. I visited sixty families; and in every house prayed with the inhabitants, and exhorted them to serve God.”
I have made these extracts from the first pages of his journal-book, and consider them a tolerable specimen of the zeal and energy with which he laboured in the vineyard of the Lord.
But the time drew near when he must die. He had been strong, and had appeared likely to live many more years; but before leaving Uttoxeter his health had failed. He found some unpleasantness in the Winster circuit, which acted prejudicially on his mind and health, and he was able to labour but very little in this his last station. The disease which terminated his life was bronchitis. In his last affliction he was sometimes delirious; and in these times of mental aberration, he would talk earnestly about the state of his circuit. In his lucid intervals, when questioned about his future prospects, his answers were most satisfactory. When asked if he was prepared to die, he answered, “I have been prepared for that several years.” He died in peace, April 9th, 1854. He has left a widow and one son to lament their loss. May they eventually follow him to heaven!
George was born on 30 March 1805 at Emily, Yorkshire, to parents James and Margaret. He was baptised on 19 May 1905 at St Mary, Mirfield, Yorkshire.
He married Sarah Webster (1801-1879) on 20 June 1838 at St Mary & All Saints, Chesterfield, Derbyshire. Census returns identify one child.
- George (1840-1926) – a chemist (1871); later a doctor (1891) & J.P.
George died on 9 April 1854
- 1834 Belper
- 1835 Retford
- 1838 Welton
- 1840 Nottingham
- 1841 Chesterfield
- 1843 Bottesford
- 1845 Leicester
- 1846 Ilkeston
- 1849 Melton Mowbray
- 1849 Boston
- 1850 Burton on Trent
- 1851 Uttoxeter
- 1853 Winster
Primitive Methodist Magazine 1854/513
PM Minutes 1854/4
H B Kendall, Origin and History of the PM Church, vol 1, p499
W Leary, Directory of Primitive Methodist Ministers and their Circuits, 1990
Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers