Transcription of obituary published in the Primitive Methodist Magazine by John Gwillim
MR. THOMAS POWELL was in his early days a wild and reckless youth. With regard to his conversion and what especially led to it, I cannot do better than give it in his own words, ‘I had, out of curiosity, attended the meetings a few times. Reckless as I was, the word preached came with power to my heart. I knew well what earnestness In wickedness meant from experience. But now I was brought under the earnestness of goodness. The words of these men, and the way in which they delivered their message, convinced me that they were in earnest. I heard, I thought, I trembled, and my cry was, “God be merciful to me a sinner.” Soon after this Wm. Towler visited our house, and the Christian deportment he evinced on the occasion towards the whole family, especially towards my mother and myself, removed every particle of prejudice from my mind against Methodist preachers, and I concluded they were men sent of God. On the occasion referred to, after saluting my mother, he turned his attention to me; she observed to him at the same, “Ah, Sir, Tom is a graceless boy.” He replied, “Cheer up, mother, he will soon be converted to God, and then we will make a Ranter of him.” ‘
This prophecy was soon fulfilled, for the peculiar motto of the preachers of that day was, ‘Have faith in God.’ Soon after his conversion he was put on the plan, and soon became an efficient local preacher, taking long journeys on the Sabbath day, and was made useful in the circuit. He being several years my senior, and not being at that time identified with the Primitive Methodists myself, I knew but little of him, only that he soon went into the regular ministry and continued in that ministry for about five years, and then located and went into business. What were Mr. Powell’s reasons for declining the ministry, I will not pretend to say. But one thing I know, it could not be from a want of ability for the ministerial office. I consider his talents in all respects to have been far above mediocrity, and I may add of a superior order.
As a preacher, thoroughly orthodox, taking a comprehensive view of his subject, well and systematically arranged, and invariably clearly expressed. He was also well versed in what is called polemical divinity. I believe in the early days of his ministry he had a strong inkling for this kind of preaching, whether it arose from the natural temperament of his mind, his theological readings, or the circumstances by which he was surrounded, so as to induce him to conclude that necessity was laid upon him, and that he was emphatically sent for ‘the defence of the gospel.’ But as he became riper in knowledge and experience the polemical element almost died out, and the practical and the experimental were the absorbing topics in his sermons.
His business habits were not merely known in his own circuit, but at our District Meetings and Conferences were seen and manifested to advantage. Few persons were more sagacious in their penetration of a subject than he was, and perhaps fewer still could illustrate it, detect and expose the sophistry of an opponent, and with logical accuracy at the same time defend his own views to the conviction of his hearers.
As a parent his anxiety for his children was almost unparalleled. Having had to part with the wife of his youth, and the mother of his children, by the ruthless hand of death several years ago, and that bosom companion of his being both a good wife and a good mother, could he, as a sensible man and a Christian man also, fail to feel that that bereavement brought upon him the additional burden of mother as well as father to those motherless children? and in a noble and praiseworthy manner did he discharge those duties to his own offspring. In him they (his children) have lost a father worthy of the name. Death was to him an ‘enemy’ from whose encounter he instinctively shrank. With an intellect maintaining to the last its youthful vigour, he saw with clear and vivid exactness the solemn and eternal interests involved in the great change, but every day witnessed the gradual abatement of this natural fear; and the realisation of an unshaken faith in the Lord Jesus, produced the ‘hope blooming with immortality.’ About three hours before his departure we were speaking to him of the ‘rest that remaineth,’ and remarking that soon he would be ‘absent from the body and present with the Lord.’ With characteristic emotion he exclaimed,
“Jesus, Lover of my soul,
Let me to Thy bosom fly”
Shortly after he called his two children (the only ones at home) to him, and kissing them calmly said, ‘I am going, good-bye,’ and directly ‘fell asleep.’
I have not been able to identify Thomas in online records. Can anyone point me in the right direction?
- 1863 Leominster
- 1865 Shrewsbury
- 1866 Nantwich
- 1868 Knighton
- 1869 went into business
Primitive Methodist Magazine 1883/248
W Leary, Directory of Primitive Methodist Ministers and their Circuits, 1990
Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers