Clarke, Richard (1840-1900)

Transcription of Obituary In the Primitive Methodist Magazine by Thomas Davies

At Tipton, on Nov. 25, 1900, the spirit of the Rev. Richard Clarke passed into the painless and limitless life, to live increasingly in the growing issues to which he contributed. The departed was a manly man, of deep sincerity, wide sympathies, great patience, untiring industry, and fearless fidelity. First and foremost he was a devout man, of conspicuous goodness, exceptional practical, and spiritual vitality, who developed a large, ample, all-sided Christian character.

Born at Wolverhampton on March 29, 1840, converted at Willenhall in 1856, he became a local preacher in the Darlaston Circuit in 1858. As a layman for eighteen years, he was in labours abundant; preaching sermons clear in statement, convincing in reproof, and powerful in appeal; sermons the embodiment and expression of the Gospel; delivered with a vigour and earnestness peculiarly his own, which quickened the faith and activities of believers and resulted in the conversion of many. He was strongly urged to enter the regular ministry, but declined. At the time he was the sole support of his widowed mother. In obeying the voice of affection he learned that no service is so acceptable to God as self-sacrificing effort for the maintenance and comfort of an aged parent. Upon the death of his mother he married. This union broadened and enriched his life, but in 1871 his wife died leaving four children, one ten months old. Some twelve months afterwards he Married Miss Hannah Hardy, of Wolverhampton. Henceforth Brother Clarke’s unassuming devotion and unremitting labours were assisted by the self-denial, piety, and good sense of this noble-minded Help-mate.

In 1873 he was introduced by the Revs. D.T. Maylott and the late James. Pritchard to the sagacious and statesmanlike Dr. S. Antliff, which led to his appointment as lay missionary to Brentford. Here he entered the ranks of the regular ministry, completing the usual four years’ course of studies in three years, Underneath the period spent upon the Kingston-upon-Thames Mission there lies a, deep, broad stratum of unchronicled self-denial, affliction, and struggle, and undiscoved faith in the Fetherhood of God, denominational loyalty, and Christian heroism, but upon which shone the approval of God’s smile. The deceased owed lasting gratitude to the sympathy and helpfulness of the late Rev. Robert Smith.

Brothe Clarke’s well-balanced judgement, fidelity to principle, administrative capability and enthusiasm for Chrsit and men found ample scope for exercise during his ministry in the Skegness, Canterbury, Crewe, Oakengates, Halesowen, Guildford, Cradley Heath, and Tipton Stations; and many were added to the Lord. The energy of the Holy Ghost illuminating, transforming, kindling our brother’s entire nature, stimulated him to noble resolves and worthy undertakings, and made him a living, burning power for righteousness. The influences of the Divine Spirit gleamed in the piercing glance of his eye, melted in his tears, glowed in his deep, clear voice, and thrilled his strong, well-built physical frame. He spoke and worked at white heat, entreated and rebuked with an intensity that surprised some. Beneath that grave, stern expression, so familiar to those who knew him, were springs of sympathy ever flowing for the relief of all forms of distress. His was a unique gift of prayer! Those prayers, marked by a reverent familiarity, intensity of desire, specificness of object, and implicit faith, were as remarkable as they were rare. His faith rested upon God’s Word without a shade of doubt! From this close communion with the Master, and might of faith, came his faculty to inspire many sympathetic souls with his own thought and resolve. Our friend’s intellect was practical, not speculative; he was therefore rarely troubled with doctrinal doubt or difficulty. He tenaciously held to the fundamentals of the Methodist faith. Having conscientiously and prayerfully prepared for the pulpit, he never doubted either the presence or power or pity of Him whom he served. A thorough acquaintance with the rationale of conversion made him a pre-eminent spiritual adviser; spiritual diagnosis, almost a lost art, was with him a special study. What tact and penetration he revealed in the diagnose of a seeker’s case! How quick to observe the least symptom and administer either the probing or healing word! Few persons showed a fuller knowledge of the human soul and the scheme of salvation. The deceased had his limitations, he knew them, and made the best of them. No one felt more keenly than he his want of a good education in early life. How bravely and strenuously he strove to educate himself, and with what satisfactory results. His strict adherence to conscientious conviction brought him into occasional collision with the opinion of others. But the most loving testimony is borne by friends of the stations upon which he served to his general acceptability and usefulness.

All that medical science and the disciplined ingenuity of love could devise were powerless to arrest the slow and insidious disease – cancer – from which he suffered. Up to within a few weeks of his death, with manly fortitude and Christian heroism, he went about his work in a manner that would lead anyone to believe that there was little if anything the matter with him. When his duties were relinquished, his faith never faltered. In pain and weariness be exercised a gentle, tender, mighty trust in the wisdom and goodness of God – a trust as full of sensibility as of strength. He said to the writer some days before his death. “Thomas, this affliction is terminating not as l anticipated; I should have liked to have done a little more work, but it is all right.” He set his affairs in order and awaited the summons to a fuller and more perfect life. Not long before he passed away two of his favourite hymns were sung, “Rock of Ages,” and “My faith looks up to Thee.” He died in the sixtieth year of his age, and the twenty-sixth of his public ministry. He showed piety at home. The wife bereaved of a kind, considerate husband, and the two sons and two daughters – one the wife of the Rev. J.G. Ferriday –  of an exemplary parent do not say “Farewell,” only, “Good night, we shad meet again in the morning.”

On the day of interment a special service was conducted by the Rev. D. Neilson, M.A., B.D., brother-in-law of the deceased, assisted by the Revs. J. Shenton, E. Richardson, C.L. Tack, W.B. Cheshire, R. Lush and J. Davies. Dr Ferguson delivered an appropriate and eloquent address. Marked respect and sympathy were shown by the circuit officials and friends. What more fitting epitaph than, “He was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost, and of faith; and much people was added unto the Lord.”


Richard was born in 1840 at Wolverhampton to parents Daniel, a labourer, and Ann.

Before entering the ministry Richard worked as a colliery engine stoker.

Richard was married to Eliza (1839-1871). Census returns identify four children.

  • Mary Ann (b1864) – a dressmaker (1891)
  • Clara Jane (b abt1866)
  • Elizabeth (1869-1930) – a stationer’s assistant (1891); married Jonah Grieves Ferriday, a PM Minister, in 1895
  • Richard (b abt1871) – a schoolmaster (1917)

Richard married Hannah Hardy (1842-1917) in late 1872 in the Wolverhampton Registration District, Staffordshire. Census returns identify one child.

  • Albert Hardy (b1876) – a civil servant (1917)


  • 1875 Kingstone
  • 1878 Sheerness
  • 1883 Canterbury
  • 1885 Crewe
  • 1887 Oakengates
  • 1888 Wellington
  • 1890 Halesowen
  • 1892 Guildford
  • 1895 Cradley heath
  • 1899 Tipton


Primitive Methodist Magazine 1901/545

PM Minutes 1901/17

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

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers


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