Hird, Arthur (1883-1932)

Transcription of obituary published in the Minutes of Conference by Phil. J. Fisher

Arthur Hird was born at Cowling, Yorkshire, on December 18th, 1883. There was bitterness and struggle in the circumstances of his childhood. As a lad he came to Nelson, Lancs., where he worked as a weaver. He became associated there with our Scotland Road Church, and his individuality and natural gifts impressed the Rev. F.N. Shimmin,  who was then minister at Nelson. Under his guidance Arthur prepared for the plan, and presently for the ministry, entering Hartley College in 1903. There he acquitted himself well, achieving honours in the term examinations and always being amongst the first three men of his year. His probation was spent at Luton and Chesterfield as colleague successively of the Revs. Jas. Lockhart and H.J. Taylor. He soon gave evidence of uncommon powers as a preacher. “He did extraordinary things from the first,” says Mr. Taylor.

From Chesterfield he went to Hull VI, having special charge of the Portobello Church. In 1914 he removed, with the wife he had found in Hull, to Liverpool III, and for three difficult war years he threw himself whole-heartedly into the work of the ministry at Jubilee Drive Church. Then for one year he returned to fill a vacancy at Portobello, and by means of gathering personal donations wiped out a heavy debt.

In 1918 Arthur Hird went to the pastorate of Eastville Church, Bristol, where he found a sphere suited to his gifts. A notable feature of his work there was the formation of a successful Brotherhood which drew a large number of men who were not regular church-goers. He also built up a strong congregation.

At the same time these were for Arthur unsettling years. Like many others he felt the shock of the War, and battles were going on in his mind. When the offer came to take a position under Messrs. Hodder and Stoughton as editor of their theological publishing department, the character of the work and its opportunity for wide service to the ministry appealed to him. Conference sanctioned his detachment for this work, somewhat reluctantly, for it did not want to lose him from the regular ministry. In this new sphere, however, he achieved remarkable success. He gave himself assiduously to the work, and increasingly gained the regard and confidence not only of the firm but also of some of the foremost minds in the country with whom he came into contact. Before the end he counted among his friends Dr. F.W. Norwood, Dean Inge, the Bishop of Durham, Mr. Frank Brangwyn, R.A., and many others. Largely through his influence such books as Dean Inge’s Christian Ethics and Modern Problems, Mr. Gwilym Griffith’s St. Paul’s Life of Christ, and Hugh Redwood’s God in the Slums came to be written.

At first after coming to London Arthur did little preaching. His first public service there was at the City Temple, when, at short notice, he supplied for Dr. Norwood. The service made a great impression: further services were requested, and soon he was in demand in many of the leading Free Church pulpits of the Metropolis. He was fulfilling an extended engagement at Christchurch, Westminster Bridge Road, Dr. F.B. Meyer’s old charge, at the time of his death. His preaching was vigorous, dramatic and challenging, often startling conventional minds, but informed by passionate conviction.

Arthur Hird had in a marked degree the quality of vivid personality, and attracted other strong personalities. He had deep sympathies, too, and a wide circle testify to the help and encouragement which he ministered to them. His early death came as a tragic blow to many. Never constitutionally strong, he had, from the time of his ministry in Liverpool, grown familiar with the surgeon’s operating table. An attack of influenza, which he took too lightly, brought on the end on January 26th, 1932.

The funeral service, at Bromley Congregational Church, Kent, was attended by a large congregation of sorrowing friends, who included Mr. and Mrs, Percy Hodder Williams, Dr. John A. Hutton, Mrs. Inge (representing Dean Inge), the Rev. J. Marcus Brown (representing the General Committee) and others. Dr. F.W. Norwood delivered a tender and appreciative address. The interment followed at St. Luke’s Cemetery, Bromley. In Dr. Norwood’s phrases, “He faced life in the spirit of a warrior, and now, like a warrior he has gone to lay his sword at the feet of his King.”

Family

Arthur was born on 18 December 1883 at Cowling, Yorkshire. I have not been able to identify Arthur’s parents.

In 1901 he is living with a foster mother, Sarah Heyworth, working as a cotton pattern designer’s assistant  at Nelson, Lancashire.

An account of his childhood and conversion published in the Primitive Methodist Magazine is attached.

He married Henrietta Eliza Sample (1882-1951) in the spring of 1912 in the Sculcoates Registration District, Yorkshire.

Arthur died on 26 January 1932 at Beckenham, Kent.

Circuits

  • Hartley
  • 1905 Luton
  • 1907 Chesterfield
  • 1910 Hull VI
  • 1914 Liverpool III
  • 1917 Hull VI
  • 1918 Bristol III
  • 1922 Harringhay

References

Primitive Methodist Magazine 1918/622

PM Minutes 1932/316

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

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

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