Humphries, Cyril Antliff (1896-1924)
Cyril was born in Matlock in 1896, and died at the early age of 28 years in 1924. When he died he had spent only 15 months as an active minister, but in that short time he made a deep impression, and it was felt that the Church “had lost a minister of remarkable gifts and promise.” Like his father, Professor A.L. Humphries, Cyril began preaching in his early teens, and observers of his early efforts in the pulpit noticed striking resemblances to his grandfather, Dr. Samuel Antliff, another accomplished preacher.
At the early age of 10 years Cyril had won a scholarship which took him to Hulme Grammar School in Manchester, and later on to the University, but in 1916, after only one term there, he answered the call of king and country to serve in the Great War. Enlisting as a private, he quickly passed to the ranks of non-commissioned officer, and then lieutenant, before embarking for France in 1917. After a few months, he developed a severe attack of trench fever, which eventually proved to be fatal, and he was invalided home in 1918.
As soon as possible he resumed his university course, his purpose still being to enter the ministry. He was sent forward by the Great Western Street Church as a candidate, and met all the required standards of the Church. In 4 years at university he achieved his B.A., M.A., and B.D. degrees, all with honours, and then in 1922 he became President’s Assistant at Prince’s Avenue Church, Liverpool, where he acquitted himself well. He showed considerable administrative and secretarial gifts, and he served his District for two years as Secretary of the Local Preacher’s Training Committee. He moved to Walkden in 1923 but after only a few weeks there he became ill as a result of his experiences in the trenches, and had several months of hospital examination and treatment.
During this time his brave spirit never gave way; his courage was infectious, and his will undaunted. His nurses testified to his cheerfulness, and it is indeed true that until the end of his life he “fought a good fight.” Within a few days of his death, and shortly before a critical operation, he preached from an unusual text, his last sermon on earth: “O that I had the wings of a dove, that I might fly away, and be at rest.” Cyril died on Christmas Day 1924, a promising life cut short by the First World War. He was buried on December 21st 1924 in the Southern Cemetery, Manchester.
Primitive Methodist Year Book and Minutes of the 106th Annual Conference, 1925, pp. 259-60.
W Leary, Directory of Primitive Methodist Ministers and their Circuit, 1990, p. 109.