8. William Clowes wins a promising recruit

Transcription of article by H. Bickerstaffe Kendall, B.A. in the series One Hundred Years Ago

ONE hundred years ago Samson Turner was converted. Many years after the event Clowes wrote of it with evident satisfaction. He tells us how on this day in 1812 he walked from Tunstall to Cannock Lane, where he preached, as also he did at Cannock Wood. He was now in John Benton’s country; for Benton was a native of Wyrley Bank, and after his conversion he had missioned that place and some of the neighbouring colliery villages. Two classes he had succeeded in forming had been handed over to the Primitive Methodists before the visit of Clowes, so that his memory was at fault when he speaks of Cannock Wood as “a place I had opened before.”

Clowes goes on to state that “in the family of Mr. Turner [of Cannock Wood] God manifested his power by converting the father, the mother, two sisters and one son; and this son is Samson Turner, one of our travelling preachers. The old man was at first very much prejudiced against Methodists, professing to be a Churchman, but in a conversation with him his prejudices gave way, and he gave his heart to the Lord, and his house became a home for the ministers of God while pursuing their great. work.”

That good day’s work not only provided a veritable “Pilgrims’ Inn” to which our early missionaries often made kindly reference, but it secured a recruit who “endured hardness ” and toiled faithfully for many years to the great advantage of our Church. Before the formal call to the ministry came, he had proved his fitness for it by doing volunteer mission work in the Black Country. He began his labours in Tunstall Circuit in May, 1819, and he lived to be the oldest travelling preacher in the Connexion. He was not a brilliant man; but he was good and true, and he wore well. His younger contemporary, Thomas Bateman made a note in his Journal about him, as he did about most of the preachers who found their way to Burland Branch. He described him as “a plain, good preacher, but not so noisy as some.” The characterisation remained true to the end.

Samson Turner was exceedingly fortunate in his marriage. Mary Edwards travelled for some years with great acceptance. Portions of the diary she kept at that time reveal both piety and ability, and we can well believe that she had also a prepossessing appearance and charm of manner; for these in a measure she had to the last. She was quite the equal of her husband in gifts and graces. We knew her in her beautiful old age, and she still stands out in memory as one of the sweetest and saintliest aged Christian women we have known.

Honours Sampson Turner never sought for himself, yet somehow they found their way to him, and his brethren never grudged him them, for he was of a meek and gentle spirit. He was chosen as one of the first four ministerial permanent members of Conference along with the founders and John Garner, and he retained that position until growing infirmities compelled him to resign it in 1871. His name is to be found twice over in the list of Presidents of Conference. In these earlier days the President was but the Chairman of the Conference who might be a different man each day; yet the appointment was not without honour, and we see that the man who signed the Conference Journal for 1856 and 1858 enjoyed the favour and confidence of his brethren.

He died at Sunderland, January 20th, 1876, a little short of three months after his faithful partner had been taken from his side.


Primitive Methodist Magazine 1912/624

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