Penrose, Thomas John (1842-1894)

Transcription of obituary published in the Minutes of Conference by G Stanyer

THOMAS J. PENROSE, son of the late Rev. T. Penrose, exchanged mortality for eternal life, June 1st, 1894, aged fifty years. He was converted about the age of fourteen years, and began preaching the Gospel while an apprentice at Halifax. He soon manifested those ‘gifts,’ ‘graces,’ and ‘fruits of Christian life’ that justified the station authorities in recommending him for our ministry. He was pledged by the Conference of 1863, which was held at Leeds, and of which the Rev. W. Antliff, D.D.,  was president. Subsequently he laboured upon the following stations: Newport, I.W., London Second, Weymouth, Reading, Guernsey, Leighton Buzzard, Luton, Preston Second, Staleybridge, Glossop, New Mills, Luton Second, and Bournemouth. 

Upon these stations he toiled with great diligence, earnestness of spirit, and faithfulness in the discharge of duty, realising from time to time a measure of success in the conversion of sinners, the reduction of chapel debts, and a general improvement in his circuits. Our departed brother was deeply beloved on his circuits. Letters from personal friends, ministers, and officials testify to that fact.

The Rev. J. Harding, in a letter of much tenderness, speaks of him thus, ‘He was a good man and most devoted to his work, and my remembrance of him impresses me with his genial and brotherly spirit, his great ability for the work he loved and in which he was engaged. 

Rev. Thomas Vaughan, on behalf of the Glossop circuit, writes as follows:—Rev. T. J. Penrose was beloved in this (Glossop) circuit. His genial spirit, his wise counsel, his blameless life, and his earnest service for the Master during the four years he travelled this circuit have endeared him to the hearts of the people, and his too early death is deeply regretted by us all.’

The Rev. Joseph Dinnick, writing on behalf of the Three Luton societies, says, ‘We held a memorial service in our Church-street chapel, Luton, in memory of your much beloved and departed husband. The chapel was packed and the kindest and most affectionate sentiments were expressed by Brothers S. Burrage, T. Day, John Impey, and Murray Wilson. I also bear testimony to the fact that I had followed fourteen ministers, but never one who was so universally esteemed and beloved and whose work was more thorough in detail and goodness’ 

The Rev. Nathan Haigh, who followed him to Bournemouth, remembering his sudden and painful illness and his unexpected death, and speaking of the condition of the station when he entered last July, says—‘I found things here much better than I have found them after following some living men. He was evidently a painstaking and plodding minister.’ 

The above quotations are but a few of the many expressions of the high esteem in which Brother Penrose was held. They are a comfort to his widow and children now. Prior to his death expressions of appreciation of his character and work were not wanting. When he left the New Mills circuit he was presented with an address in which the following sentence is found, ‘During the four years you have been with us we have had many opportunities of observing with what dignity you have maintained your position, and with what unflagging zeal and regularity you have discharged your important duties, thus gaining our highest esteem and respect.’ 

During his stay in Bournemouth his health gave way. He was weak and depressed, the smallest things giving him trouble. When he attended the District Meeting at Gillingham, in 1894, the brethren who knew him were struck with his changed appearance. At one of the meetings he prayed with his usual power, and on the following Saturday evening he was smitten with apoplexy, from which he never recovered. When he returned home a hope was entertained that if he had a year’s rest he might resume his labours; but his work was done, and the Master for whom he had toiled called him to his rest after an honoured service of 31 years in our ministry.

The deceased was interred in St. George’s Churchyard, Portland, Dorset, June 6th, 1894. Rev. J. Herridge attended as the representative of the Bournemouth Station, and gave an address, in which he referred to the personal qualities of the deceased and the wisdom of God in all His dealings with His children. The Rev. E. Clarke, as the minister of the Portland station, read the lessons and officiated at the grave. Our brother is gone, but his affection as a father, his faithful and earnest preaching as a servant of Jesus Christ, and the conscientious manner in which he discharged his duty as a minister of our Connexion remain with us and his. We pray his widow and son and daughter may receive all comfort from God, and meet him, ‘who was a good man and feared God above many,’ in Heaven.

Family

Thomas was born in late 1842 at Bury, Lancashire, to parents Thomas Penrose, a PM minister and Frances Waddingham.

He married Jane Gibbs (1846-1919) in late 1868 in the Weymouth Registration District, Dorset. Census returns identify three children.

  • Caroline (b1872) – not identified after 1911              
  • Thomas (b1875) – an electrical engineer (1911); not identified after 1911
  • Jane (1881-1882)        

Thomas died on 1 June 1894 at Fareham, Hampshire.

Circuits

  • 1863 Newport
  • 1865 London II
  • 1866 Weymouth
  • 1868 Reading
  • 1872 Guernsey
  • 1874 Leighton Buzzard
  • 1875 Luton
  • 1876 Preston I
  • 1877 Preston II
  • 1878 Stalybridge
  • 1881 Glossop
  • 1885 New Mills
  • 1889 Luton II
  • 1893 Bournemouth

References

PM Minutes 1895/17

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

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

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