Dain, Benjamin (1847-1897)

Transcription of obituary published in the Primitive Methodist Magazine by John Whittle

THE REV. B. DAIN, the much-esteemed superintendent minister of the Chorley circuit, exchanged mortality for life on Friday, January 29th, and the churches in the Liverpool and Manchester district have sustained a great loss by his death.

Mr. Dain was born in the village of Slook Gate, Ashley, Staffordshire, on February 16th, 1847. Both his  father and mother had been identified with Primitive Methodism from the time it was first introduced into the village, and their home had been the home of the pioneers of the Connexion. The deceased became a scholar in the Slook Gate Primitive Methodist Sunday-school before he was three years of age. His mother lived a Christly life, and her prayers and counsel had a great influence upon him, even before his conversion or he had become a member of the Church.

He remained at home until he was fourteen years old; after this he was apprenticed to the business of miller in the town of Market Drayton and here he attended the services at Drayton chapel. Shortly after finishing his apprenticeship he obtained employment at Buckley, near Nantwich, and there became acquainted with Mr. George Farrall and family, of Alvaston, and through the kindly advice, gentle admonitions, and the example of this godly family, he was led to decide for Christ, and he became a member of the Primitive Methodist Society at Willaston, in the Crewe circuit, and soon after this he was placed on the circuit plan as an exhorter.

From Buckley he removed to Macclesfield, and continued as a local-preacher in that town, until he received a call into the regular ministry during the time that the Rev. William Evans was superintendent of the Macclesfield circuit. In the meantime he had studied hard, and read all the theological books he could get, in order to fit himself for the work of the ministry. He went up to London for his examination—Dr. Antliff being one of the examiners. His examination being satisfactory, he was sent at once to labour on the Home Missions at Marlborough in Wiltshire; this was in the year 1870.

He afterwards laboured very successfully on the Maldon and Ramsgate Missions. He was then sent to Holborn Hill, which had become part of the Barrow circuit in the Manchester, now of the Liverpool district, and the whole of the last twenty-three years was spent in the above-named districts, namely, two years at Holborn Hill, three years at Rochdale, four years in Douglas First circuit, four years in Southport First, three years at Leigh, three years in the Newton and Hyde circuit, and he was just completing his fourth year in the Chorley circuit. In all these circuits he had considerable success. In chapel building and renovating, in the removal of chapel debts, he did much work. In most of his circuits also he had the pleasure of witnessing gracious revivals in which many were led to Christ. He was a great favourite with his brethren, full of pleasantry, and ever ready to give a helping hand. It is impossible to exaggerate the service he rendered to our churches. His capacity for work was marvellous; the one fault he had was that he attempted to do too much.

His ministry has been characterised by many excellences; his command of language, and his use of striking and forcible expressions, together with a fine presence and a pleasing voice, made him popular as a preacher and lecturer. For the last seventeen years he had preached and lectured every year at the School Anniversaries in connection with our Durham Street Society in the Rochdale Circuit. His social disposition was truly enjoyable ; he was always hopeful and looked at the bright side. He was often heard to say “he preferred to live in Thanksgiving Street to being at Grumbling Corner.” 

Many letters have been received by Mrs. Dain from old colleagues, and from circuits in which Mr. Dain had travelled, also from the General Committee Secretary, and the Secretaries of the Manchester and Liverpool District Committee, and from the Orphanage Committee, of which Mr. Dain was secretary for the Liverpool district, all testifying to the esteem and valuable services Mr. Dain had rendered.

The Rev. W. Bowe, secretary for the Liverpool District Committee, wrote to Mrs. Dain, saying, “The following is the resolution passed by our Committee—‘That we place on record our sense of the great loss which the church has sustained in the death of Benjamin Dain, and the high esteem in which he was held by the ministers and officials of the Liverpool District; he was a good man, an earnest and devoted servant of God, and a diligent pastor and faithful minister of Jesus Christ.”

Rev. Walter Graham, secretary of the Manchester District Committee, wrote, “Mr. Dain was well known and respected in this district. He was a workman who needed not to be ashamed, he was a man of ceaseless energy and spent himself without stint in the interests of his Church.”

The respect and esteem entertained for our departed brother were fittingly shown on Monday, Feb. 1st, on the occasion of his funeral, when from every church in the Chorley circuit, as well as from most of the circuits in Lancashire, friends assembled to do honour to his memory. In the vicinity of his residence all blinds were drawn, and along the route to the chapel where the body was taken, tradesmen had put up their shutters as a mark of mournful respect. Our large Cunliffe Street Chapel was crowded, and a most impressive funeral service was conducted. The Rev. W. Wright, of Leigh, read a portion of Scripture as the bearers carried the coffin into the chapel. The Rev. Charles Finch, of Warrington, gave out one of Mr. Dain’s favourite hymns, “I heard the voice of Jesus say.” Principal Watson read the Scriptures, and Rev. J. Whittle, of Blackburn, offered prayer, and a very impressive address was given by the Rev. W. Karfoot, LL.D., Congregational minister of Leigh. Dr. Karfoot said he might apologise for occupying the position he did, in the presence of so many brother-ministers of the Primitive Methodist Connexion. But one reason for his speaking which might be satisfactory, was that he had a close acquaintance with their departed pastor, having known him for many years, he having been a co-worker with him at Leigh. He spoke of Mr. Dain’s enormous activity, of his passion for work, and he closed his impressive address by saying, that though the deceased had preached many eloquent sermons, his voice was never more powerful than it was at that moment, and he urged those present, as they thought of their lamented friend, as they remembered his geniality and kind words, his Christ-like disposition, to endeavour to make his life a blessing to themselves. He thanked all on behalf of the family for the many expressions of sympathy that had been shown that day. The service was brought to a close by the singing of the hymn, “Thee we adore, Eternal Name,” announced by the Rev. W. Bache. A large company left the chapel for the Chorley Cemetery. In addition to the above-named ministers the following were present: Rev. W. Graham, of Manchester, the Rev. W. Overton, of Southport Third Circuit, and all the Nonconformist ministers of the town. The coffin was covered with wreaths, many of them sent from the circuits in which Mr. Dain had travelled.

At the cemetery the Rev. C. Finch read the funeral service, and the choir, led by Mr. Porter, sang, “Lead, Kindly Light,” another of Mr. Dain’s favourite hymns. Principal Watson then delivered a brief but impressive address. A unique and gratifying token of sympathy was seen in the presence of Canon Stowell, the rector of Chorley, who pronounced the benediction.

Mr. Dain’s illness commenced October 22nd. He had congestion of the left lung, from which he seemed to recover; but he had a relapse on December 5th, and though he had the best medical advice, and all the help and nursing a most devoted wife could give to him, it was all of no avail, and on Friday morning, January 29th, he passed into the higher life and service of heaven.

The week he died he sent to the Christian Endeavour, in response to his name on the roll call, the following verse which expressed the supreme aim of his life:

“Tis to my Saviour I would live,
To Him who for my ransom died,
Nor could all worldly honour give
Such bliss as crowns me at His side.”

His funeral sermon was preached on Sunday, February 21st, by the Rev. W. Wright, of Leigh, in the Cunliffe Street Chapel, which was crowded long before the service commenced. For his widow, who has been a true help-meet, and his five children, we ask the prayers of our beloved Zion.

Family

Benjamin was born on 16 February 1847 at Ashley, Staffordshire, to parents Major, a farmer, and Jane.

He married Eliza Wildish (1856-1934) in late 1876 at Market Drayton, Shropshire. Census returns identify five children.

  • Major (1877-1950) – a PM minister
  • John Benjamin (1880-1904) – a solicitor’s clerk (1901)
  • Edith Susie (b1885) – an outfitter’s assistant (1911); married Josiah H Barrett, a grocer (1939, in 1916
  • Eliza Jane (1888-1948)
  • Anne Gertrude (1890-1963) – an assistant teacher (1911)

Benjamin died on 29 January 1897 at Chorley, Lancashire.

Circuits

  • 1871 Maldon
  • 1873 Ramsgate
  • 1875 Barrow in Furness
  • 1876 Rochdale
  • 1879 Douglas I
  • 1883 Southport I
  • 1887 Leigh
  • 1890 Newton & Hyde
  • 1893 Chorley

References

Primitive Methodist Magazine 1897/468

PM Minutes 1897/16

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

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

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