Transcription of obituary published in the Primitive Methodist Magazine by James R Parkinson
The late Rev. GEORGE FREDERICK STEPHENS was born at Cirencester, Gloucestershire, June 2, 1836. Being trained by pious parents in the way he should go, he became in early life a member of Rev. T. Williams’ Bible class at Cirencester. He often spoke of the advantages he derived from the instructions of the minister named, and good impressions being thus made upon his mind he was induced to seek the forgiveness of his sins, and having found the pearl of great price his name appeared in due course on the local preachers’ plan, when only seventeen years of age; on the same plan were the names of his father and three of his brothers, one of whom is now a minister in the Primitive Methodist connexion.
After labouring with acceptance and success as a local preacher for more than six years, he received a call to the ministry from the Doncaster circuit, Hull district, and he afterwards laboured in the following stations, namely, Gainsborough, Tadcaster, Market Rasen, Patrington, Filey, Swinefleet, Epworth, Barton, and Louth, where he finished his course, and entered, as we doubt not, into the joy of his Lord.
Although his health was not robust, his pulpit labours were nevertheless acceptable and useful. The Rev. E. Tyas, with whom he travelled in the Patrington circuit, says: “His ministerial career has been cut very short, and he has early entered into his rest. I have known him a few years, and all that I have known of him has left upon my mind the impression of genuine piety. His physical energies being comparatively feeble, his voice were not so stentorian as of some of our ministers; nevertheless he was able to speak effectively and often to the edification of his hearers, and to his duties he was very attentive.”
The Rev. J. Mules, who was his superintendent in the Swinefleet circuit, says: “I found Mr. Stephens always obliging, regular in his work, and anxious to do good. He was not physically strong, but he regularly attended to his various duties. He was much respected by the people, and highly esteemed by them for his work’s sake. I never saw an act, witnessed a passion, or heard a word from his lips derogatory to Christian character.”
Another of his colleagues, the Rev. G. Watson remarks, “I always found him a willing co-worker in the good cause; as a friend and a brother he was constant, faithful and kind; as a man he was modest and retiring honest, honourable and obliging. He was not remarkable for push and energy, yet he gave evidence that his heart was steadfast in the covenant of God.”
These statements are fully endorsed by the writer, who has been stationed for the Epworth and Louth circuits with the subject of this notice. Mr. Stephens’ last affliction extended over a period of six months, but no immediate danger was apprehended until two days before his decease, when he complained of intense internal pain, but he obtained relief before retiring to rest, when he conducted family worship for the last time. On the day before he died, though distressed with pain, he often repeated—
“Jesus, thy blood and righteousness
My beauty are, my glorious dress,
Midst flaming worlds in these arrayed
With joy shall I lift up my head;
Bold shall I stand in that great day
For who ought to my charge shall lay?
Fully absolved through thee I am,
From sin and fear, from guilt and shame.”
On the day of his death, after a fierce assault from the enemy, he obtained the victory, and then he shouted “Glory, glory.” He then said, “The Lord will never forsake me now; it would not be like him. I have not served him all these years for nought; no, bless him, he has promised to be with me to the end.” He then smiled, and said, “Christ’s precious blood has cleansed me from the last remains of sin.” He then dozed for a few minutes, and when he awoke, looking up, he said, “It’s a mansion;” and then he said, “Clothed in spotless white, spotless white.” He then called for his little boy and kissed him, and blessed him for the last time. A short time before his departure, he said, “I am in the valley; Jesus is with me. He lights it up.” Thus lived and died the late George Frederick Stephens, in the thirty-seventh year of his age and the thirteenth year of his ministry.
George was born on 2 June 1836 at Cirencester, Gloucestershire, to parents Timothy Stephens, a tailor, and Honor Evans. He was baptised on 4 September 1836 at Cirencester. His brother Edward was also a PM minister.
He married Elizabeth Hookham (b1841) in the summer of 1865 in the Glanford Brigg Registration District, Lincolnshire. Census returns identify one child.
- Jonathan Williamson Francis (1866-1918) – educated at Elmfield (1881); entered Merchant Navy in 1884 ; died at Numurkah, Victoria, Australia
George died on 26 February 1873 at North Somercotes, Lincolnshire.
- 1860 Tadcaster
- 1861 Gainsborough
- 1862 Market Rasen
- 1863 Patrington
- 1865 Filey
- 1866 Swinefleet
- 1868 Epworth
- 1870 Barton on Humber
- 1872 Louth
Primitive Methodist Magazine 1874/434
PM Minutes 1873/8
W Leary, Directory of Primitive Methodist Ministers and their Circuits, 1990
Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers