Clack, Matthew Henry (1852-1879)

Transcription of obituary published in the Primitive Methodist Magazine by C.T. Coulbeck

MATTHEW HENRY CLACK was born at Gossey, Berkshire, June 14, 1852. His father had been preaching one night, and, after father and son, had arrived home, while mother was preparing supper, Matthew said to his father, ‘Father, I am not saved.’ ‘Then you may be,’ replied the father, ‘for Jesus said, “Suffer the little children to come unto Me, and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” ’ During the family worship of that night Matthew was saved, and the household was filled with gladness, Matthew exclaiming (though only seven years of age), ‘My soul rings with glory.’ The next Sabbath-day he went round the village inviting the children to a service which he and his sister conducted, and several children were converted. These services were continued for a long time. At the age of fourteen he became a member of society, and soon his initials appeared in connection with the name of an elder brother on the circuit plan. He began to preach in a neighbouring village, and an old man was saved, who said, ‘We should have gone to hell but for that dear child.’ He continued doing good, when: early in his ‘teens’ he was made a local preacher, and for about two years laboured with energy, acceptance, and success. 

When about nineteen years of age he went to the Braintree Mission to labour as a hired local preacher. After a short time he was recommended for the ministry, and entered upon a course of preparatory study at the Theological Institute, Sunderland. His ability and studiousness appeared in each of his examinations, taking rank in number of marks amongst the leading young men of the Connexion. 

He laboured with success in the following circuits:—Tetney, Grimsby 2nd, Louth, and Retford. In each of these stations his name is fragrant, and his memory blessed.

He was a young man of considerable mental power, a good thinker, and his diction was beautiful. He was kind and tender-hearted, a pious and intelligent minister, a true and faithful friend, and prudent and skilful in business matters. He was kind and generous to the poor. As a colleague he was the very soul of nobility. He could not do a mean thing. 

His affliction was not at first considered dangerous, but it gradually began to consume his vital power, and at last prostrated him. During his affliction his experience was eminently spiritual. On one occasion, when asked by his superintendent, ‘How he found the gospel now that he was face to face with eternal realities?’ he replied, ‘I find the gospel all to me now that I have proclaimed it to be to others,’ A few moments before he died, his young wife read to him portions of the Psalms. He said, ‘It is sweet! It is sweet!’ Without a murmur and without a struggle he gently passed away. He died of consumption, on November 19, 1879, in the twenty-seventh year of his age, and in the seventh year of his ministry. 

The ministers of the town headed the funeral procession. Addresses were delivered in the cemetery chapel by the Revs. C.T. Coulbeck and R. Silby, Baptist minister, and the Rev. P. Peacock offered prayer. His death was improved by the Rev. F.G. Wallis in the Retford Chapel to a large and deeply affected congregation.


Matthew was born on 14 June 1852 at Gossey, Berkshire, to parents John, a grocer, and Eliza.

He married Ann Elizabeth Motley (1857-1934) in the summer of 1878 in the Louth Registration District, Lincolnshire. Census returns identify one child.

  • Ada Jane (b1879) – a shop assistant (1911)

Matthew died on 19 November 1879 at Retford, Nottinghamshire.

Ann married William Hayton, a PM minister, in the summer of 1883.


  • Sunderland
  • 1873 Tetney
  • 1874 Grimsby
  • 1875 Louth
  • 1878 Retford


Primitive Methodist Magazine 1881/54

PM Minutes 1880/8

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

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

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