Horrocks, Robert Henry (1829-1898)

Transcription of obituary published in the Minutes of Conference by Henry Land

Rev. R. H. HORROCKS.—The Rev. R. H. Horrocks was born in London in the year 1830. His early life was without the advantage of religious training, for his parents were ungodly, and, consequently, careless about their son’s spiritual interests. When a youth he removed from London to the neighbourhood of Weymouth, and there, through the influence of friends with whom he resided, became acquainted with Primitive Methodism. The happy and hearty services of our church in those early days soon attracted him, and he was persuaded to attend a class meeting. Here the young man came in contact with godly men and women, and eventually became conscious of personal salvation and happy in the possession of Christian joys. 

After his conversion he was speedily called to fulfil the duties of local preacher. In fact, he filled the office whilst still wearing the short jacket and Eton collar suitable to a youth, and became known in the neighbourhood as the boy preacher. On one occasion whilst this young preacher was conducting an open-air service, a clergyman, who was a magistrate, came, accompanied by a policeman, to stop the proceedings. As the policeman seized Mr. Horrocks and led him away, the preacher announced a hymn. This was taken up heartily by the crowd that followed, and the representatives of the law found themselves marching to the tune of a lively Primitive Methodist song. The preacher was taken to a village inn, whilst the clergyman made arrangements to commit him to the Dorchester Gaol, and in the tap room of the inn the irrepressible Primitive Methodists held a prayer meeting. Eventually the clergyman considered it wise to withdraw the policeman and retire from the scene. The story of the clergyman’s interference aroused great interest in the neighbourhood, and some influential members of the Congregational body printed a leaflet relating to the above events, and defending the rights of the Primitive Methodists. A copy of this leaflet was sent to the parish clerk, who thought it was a public notice of some kind, and accordingly nailed it to the church door. 

When twenty-one years of age, Mr. Horrocks was called into the ministry, Newbury being his first station. Here he witnessed, perhaps, the greatest revival movement in his history. On one happy occasion he never took off his clothes for a whole week, but conducted with others a series of soul-saving services which were held continuously day and night. His active labours during 43 years were given largely to the eastern and southern counties, and chiefly to country stations. For this kind of ministry he was well fitted. He had a splendid constitution, and will always be remembered as a great walker. He had no fears of the lonely journeys which frighten some men from village stations. He has often stated that it was his custom to sit and rest awhile in some of the most remote spots upon the road at ten or eleven o’clock at night, and that some of the happiest moments of his life have been spent thus. His ministry was appreciated in the villages: he was always faithful to his village appointments. The long journeys, the stormy weather, the very small congregations did not supply him with an excuse for staying at home. 

Mr. Horrocks was a loyal and humble servant of his church, a man of God, an acceptable preacher, a capable business man, and a sufficient scholar for his day and for the people to whom he ministered. His active ministry closed in the year 1894, and from that time until his death he resided at Haverhill and at Weston Colville, in the Haverhill station. His connection with Haverhill dates from the year 1867, when he was appointed to the Wickhambrook station, of which Haverhill formed a part. Later, he travelled at Saffron Walden, when Haverhill had been transferred to that station, and eventually at Haverhill itself when it had become a separate station. Here he was greatly respected; here he had formed close friendships; here his dear wife was buried some sixteen years ago. Our chapel was erected during his ministry here, and it is evident that many of the most precious memories of his life gathered around this Circuit. Here, therefore, he came to spend the days of his retirement until the call came to sweeter rest and higher service. 

During the last few months of his life he had become very feeble, and death must have been to him a welcome friend. He passed into the eternal world on the 28th day of June, 1898. His funeral was attended by many members of the churches of the Haverhill Circuit, and memorial services were conducted at Haverhill and Weston Colville. His memory will be cherished by many, who will hope to meet him again in the land of joy and rest and immortality. Happy is the Christian thought that our departed loved ones are not lost, but gone before.

Family

Robert was born 17 April 1829 in London to parents Jesse, a servant (1829), and Elizabeth. He was baptised on 6 May 1829 at St James, Piccadilly, Westminster.

He married Jane White (abt1825-1882) in late 1860 in the Weymouth Registration District, Dorset. Census returns identify one child.

  • Sarah Elizabeth (b1861) – a music teacher (1891)

Robert died on 26 June 1898 at Weston Colville, Cambridgeshire. He was buried at Haverhill, Suffolk on 2 July 1898.

Circuits

  • 1851 Newbury
  • 1853 Poole
  • 1854 Corfe Castle
  • 1856 Salisbury
  • 1859 Witney
  • 1860 Newbury
  • 1861 Hastings
  • 1862 Tunbridge Wells
  • 1864 Northampton
  • 1867 Wickhambrook
  • 1870 Maidenhead
  • 1872 Saffron Walden
  • 1876 Baldock
  • 1879 Jersey
  • 1881 Haverhill
  • 1886 Howden
  • 1889 Lincoln II
  • 1891 Hadleigh
  • 1892 Kelsale
  • 1894 Haverhill (Sup)

References

PM Minutes 1899/15

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

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

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