Birch, Smith (1823-1898)

Primitive Methodist Magazine 1876

Early years

Smith was born on 5 March 1823 at Tadcaster, Yorkshire to parents Richard and Mary.  Richard was a tailor.

His parents were both Primitive Methodists and his father was a local preacher, often hosting visiting preachers. Johnny Oxtoby visited often. Smith wrote in later years; ‘Oxtoby used to put his hands on my head, and pray to God to bless me, and predicted I should be a preacher of the Gospel.’

Smith attended Sunday School as a scholar and later a teacher until he began his travelling ministry. He attended day school in the village and was a pupil at grammar school.

He gave himself to Christ when he was 16 years old. He became a local preacher and class leader when he was 18 and became ’very useful and successful’.

Smith was prompted by Henry Knowles to offer for the ministry and on 20 May 1847 he left home for his first appointment to Ripon.


His obituary records that Brother Birch was a faithful minister of the Gospel; God gave him a good ringing voice, a fine constitution, a cheerful disposition, and a happy soul. He was a man of uprightness and integrity, true as a friend, conscientious, faithful and constant in the discharge of his duties. In pastoral work he excelled, and was known in the homes of the people as a familiar friend.

C G Honor writes; ‘His plain, energetic preaching, his rare conversational powers, and his cheerful piety, secured him a large share of the affections of our people.

Smith represented his District at Conference on several occasions.


Smith married Charlotte Kenyon (b1828) in the summer of 1852 at Barnsley, Yorkshire. Census returns identify three children.

  • Kenyon (1853-1906) – a draper
  • John William (1855-1872)
  • Walter Smith (1857-1914) – a confectioner and bread baker

Smith married Rachel Douglass (1820-1871), nee Vasey, the widow of Francis Douglass, in the summer of 1863 at Worksop, Nottinghamshire. Census returns identify one child.

  • Charlotte (1864-1927) – a missionary in Eastbourne in 1891; married Cleophas Henry Oates, a chemist

Smith married Hannah Goacher (1838-1914), nee King, the widow of Benjamin Goacher, in the summer of 1872 at Worksop, Nottinghamshire. Hannah’s daughter Maria, born in 1864 is living with the family in 1881.

Smith died on 17 March 1898 at Driffield, Yorkshire.


  • 1848 Ripon
  • 1850 Middleham
  • 1851 Barnsley
  • 1853 Pickering
  • 1854 Huddersfield
  • 1855 Grimsby
  • 1857 Hull l
  • 1859 Pocklington
  • 1861 Scotter
  • 1863 Driffield
  • 1866 Retford
  • 1869 Hornsea
  • 1872 Brigg
  • 1874 Patrington
  • 1877 Crowle
  • 1880 Epworth
  • 1882 Market Rasen
  • 1886 Barton on Humber
  • 1890 Driffield (Sup)


Primitive Methodist Magazine 1873/375 (Rachel); 1876 (portrait); 1900/148

The Primitive Methodist, 1898, p206

PM Minutes 1898/5

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

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

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