Davenport, Henry (1862-1931)

Transcription of obituary published in the Minutes of Conference by J Pearce (2)

Henry Davenport was born at Wheelock Heath, Sandbach, on May 21st, 1862. He was the second of three children. His parents were village folk with few resources, but they gave of their best to their sons and daughter. Young Harry as he was familiarly known had a little schooling, first at a private school in the district and later at Wheelock Church School. At the age of 10 he was working long hours at the local silk mill. He then became an apprentice to wagon repairing at the salt works and later went as a porter to Crewe Station.

As a boy he attended Wheelock Heath Baptist Church and Sunday School, but at the age of eighteen was converted at our Wheelock Church, where he became a devoted worker.

Influenced by Mr. Lycett, he commenced preaching, and he soon gave evidence of outstanding ability. His great success prompted the call to the larger service, and he was invited to prepare for the Ministry. He went to College in 1886. The following year he was stationed at the Oldham II. Circuit, where he stayed two years. He spent the latter half of his probation at Preston Brook, remaining there for a third year as an Appproved List Minister. He next removed to Walkden, Manchester, where he won for himself a great reputation as a preacher. Then Chester sought his gifted ministry and as colleague to Revs. W. R. Bird and James Travis he excelled himself. He remained here for eight years. His subsequent Circuits were Sunderland II., Newcastle II., Oldham I., Walkden and Manchester VIII. In all these places he proved himself immensely resourceful and achieved greatly. During his short term at Swinton, Manchester, his health broke down, and at the end of the year he was compelled to seek superannuation.

For 39 years he had exercised a powerful and gracious Ministry.

He settled at his native place, and during his five years’ of retirement rendered excellent service not only to our church, but to all the Free Churches in the neighbourhood.

He was a man of God, whose experience of God was intimate, vital and profound. He had the basal quality of sincerity and other virtues took root and flourished in so good a soil.

He excelled as a preacher, This was his main work. The pulpit was his throne. He had the sense of vocation. In him was a blend of prophet and evangelist. He was a great expositor. The truth was passed through his own soul as a living experience and. uttered with clear conviction, spiritual passion and power. If at times dogmatic it was because he was a man of strong convictions, courageously stating what he believed to be the truth. 

All his sermons were carefully and thoroughly prepared. The name he made by his powerful preaching early in his career he maintained until the end, so that he was greatly in demand for special services at some places for teens of years.

He was a wise and able administrator. Duty to him was sacred, In all his business he was thorough, so punctual and methodical as to win general approbation.

He was a loyal friend. He never betrayed a secret and men felt their confidences in him were not misplaced.

As a pastor he was always welcomed in the homes of the people. He was guide to the perplexed, comforter to the sorrowful, guardian to the menaced. His last service was an endeavour to save a young man who had fallen. 

His home life was happy, though shadowed by sorrow. He was twice married. His first wife was Miss Bailey, of Haslington, a woman of beautiful character, who took an active interest in all his work. She died in 1918.

His second wife was Miss Scott, of Sunderland, one blessed with a radiant personality, and she was his helper also in all that concerned the Church.

During the third year of his retirement he suffered the great sorrow of losing his wife and his only brother.

“Life can never be the same again,’’ he said. Under these heavy trials he bore himself bravely, but two years later, after a brief illness, he passed away peacefully. Truly, it may be said that he served his own generation by the will of God, and then fell on sleep.

Prior to the interment; which took place on April 14th at Christchurch, Alsager, a service was held in our Winterley Church. There was a large congregation, which included many friends from the District and from Circuits where he had travelled. Every Free Church in Sandbach was represented. The writer of this Memoir conducted the service and gave an address. Other Ministers taking part were: Rev. D.T. Mann, representing the General Committee; Rev. G. Dash representing the District Committee; Revs. A. Wilkes, J. Williams and R.T. West (Congregationalist).

Family

Henry was born on 2 May 1862 at Wheelock Heath, Cheshire. His mother was Eliza Davenport, nee Wright.

The 1881 census return describes Henry as a rail wagon builder.

He married Elizabeth Bayley (1866-1918) in the summer of 1891 at Haslington, Cheshire.

He married Elizabeth A Scott (1874-1930) in the spring of 1920 at Sunderland, Co. Durham.

Henry died on 11 April 1931.

Circuits

  • 1887 Oldham II
  • 1889 Preston Brook
  • 1892 Walkden
  • 1896 Chester I
  • 1904 Sunderland
  • 1909 Newcastle
  • 1914 Oldham
  • 1919 Walkden
  • 1925 Manchester VIII
  • 1926 Sandbach (Sup)

References

PM Minutes 1931/291

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

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

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