Transcription of obituary published in the Primitive Methodist Magazine by G. Hellawell
Our beloved Connexion in general, and the General Missionary Committee and Mission District in particular, have lost a devoted and useful worker in the death of the Rev. Thomas Braithwaite, who departed this life on Wednesday morning, August 14th, at Richmond, Yorkshire.
Our dearly and highly esteemed friend and brother who has been taken from among us at the meridian of life, was born at Kirby Malzeard, in the county of Yorkshire. When he was very young death deprived him of his dear mother, which was to him an irreparable loss. However, when thus bereft of his maternal parent, the Lord watched over and took care of him. In the order of Divine providence he came to live at Ripon. There he found his way to the house of God, and listened profitably to the preaching of the gospel. While young in years the Spirit of the Lord strove with him, and under his influence he decided to alter his course of conduct, and to seek for mercy at the hand of that God against whom he felt he had sinned. He sought and found Him to the joy of his heart. Through Christ he received by faith the pardon of all his sins, and the renewal of his heart in righteousness and true holiness. When he became the happy subject of this great and most glorious change, he was only in the twelfth year of his age. He obeyed the Divine command, “Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth.” We presume the conversion of this boy of some eleven years, in 1844, did not excite any peculiar interest, either in the Church or the world ; and probably for some time it was unknown beyond the community among which it took place. Small as the event might seem to be it was in reality a great and momentous one, and doubtless scores, nay, hundreds of precious, ransomed, deathless souls will have cause to praise God in heaven for ever for it. Brother Braithwaite not only commenced his Christian career in early life, but he through grace continued steadfast unto the end. Wherever his lot was cast, or whatever the trials through which he had to pass, he retained his trust in the Lord, and thus his path was as the shining light, which became brighter and brighter unto the perfect day. On account of his piety, and ability for public speaking, he was deemed a suitable person to become a local preacher. In this capacity he laboured with acceptance, and was made a blessing to many.
In the year 1854 he was called to labour as an itinerant minister. Middleham, which at that time included Richmond, was his first station. At the latter town he spent the most of his labours, and among the people he was useful and happy. In England he afterwards travelled in the following stations: Lancaster, one year; Settle, one year; Rugby, three years, and Chatham, six months. For the glory of God, and the salvation of precious, blood-bought souls, he was willing to labour either at home or abroad. In 1859 he was accepted by the Connexional authorities as a missionary for the Australian colonies, and in June of that year, with his beloved partner, who now mourns his loss, he bade adieu, at least for a time, to kindred, friends, and native land. After a voyage of twelve weeks, they arrived in safety at the place of their destination, strangers among strangers, but trusting in God, and aiming at his glory. There the great Head of the Church was with them, opened their way, and made them a blessing to the people.
For between eleven and twelve years he laboured in Australia on the following stations: Pancharpoo, two years; Salisbury, two years; Mount Barker, one year; Strathalban, two years; North Adelaide, three years; and Kapunda, one year. On all these he laboured with considerable success, many sinners being awakened and converted under his ministry. As far as we can learn about two hundred professed to be converted under his labours. In our judgment a minister’s usefulness in the great work to which he is set apart is the best proof of his fitness for it. The Church and the world need soul-converting ministers, ministers whose hearts are richly imbued with love to God and love to souls; ministers whose sole aim is the salvation of sinners; and this we believe was the spirit of our departed brother.
In addition to preaching the gospel, and pastoral visitation, he superintended the erection of seventeen chapels, besides altering and improving others, and also building mission houses. Truly may it be said of him, “He was a worker in Israel.”
Some time before he returned to England his health had been declining, and his medical adviser recommended him to return to his own country in the hope that it would be better for his health, which he did, and landed in the month of June, 1871. He was stationed by the Conference of 1871 for Gravesend, where he laboured until February, 1872, when on account of failing health, he was under the painful necessity of asking for a little rest, in the hope that his health might be improved. In July, 1872, he came to Richmond, where he only laboured a few weeks. Had he been spared with health and strength to labour, we are confident that, with the blessing of our heavenly Father, he would have been of great service to this station and the General Missionary Committee would have had cause to rejoice that ever he was appointed to it; but his stay was short, his work soon done; the Master soon called him home. The last service he conducted was Tunstall camp-meeting and love-feast, only ten days before his spirit was taken to join in the song, “Unto him that loved us,” etc.
During the night previous to his death he seemed to have a heavenly vision and said to those present, “Harpers, harpers, harping on their harps,” and asked us to join in the singing. When we asked what they were singing, he told us the new song, “Unto him that loved us.” All the time after this he wished us to sing for him –
“Worthy the Lamb that died they cry,” etc.
A little time afterwards he requested us to sing it again, which we gladly did, and although so near the river of death, I felt the full force of those beautiful lines –
“And if our fellowship below,
In Jesus be so sweet,
What height of rapture shall we know
When round his throne we meet!”
And the influence which then rested on us never left us until his happy spirit took its flight, which was about 5.23 a.m., August 14th, 1872, when he quietly fell asleep in Jesus, to wake up to a joyful resurrection. The Rev. G. Stout, of Ripon, improved his death in our Bargate Street Chapel, Richmond, to a deeply affected congregation. That the Lord may comfort the widow, and that God may raise.up another as earnest and useful is the prayer of the writer.
Thomas was born in 1833 at Kirby Malzeard, Yorkshire. His father, George, was a grocer and draper (1841).
Thomas died on 14 August 1872 at Richmond, Yorkshire.
- 1854 Middleham
- 1855 Lancaster
- 1856 Settle
- 1858 Rugby
- 1859 to Australia
- 1871 Gravesend
- 1872 Richmond
Primitive Methodist Magazine 1873/672
PM Minutes 1873/6
W Leary, Directory of Primitive Methodist Ministers and their Circuits, 1990
Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers