Transcription of article published in the Primitive Methodist Magazine by H Bickerstaffe Kendall in the series “One Hundred Years Ago”
ONE hundred years ago there was living at Thurvaston, near Longford, in Derbyshire, Samuel Simcock, a wheelwright by trade. Samuel has a good many claims to remembrance, more by far than usually fall to a country mechanic after the lapse of a century. He was one of the ten members of the Stanley class and the most notable of the number. He was only twenty-eight when he died in 1817, and, by a singular fate, a sort of myth grew out of his death and gave one of our founders some annoyance and trouble. The myth ran that Simcock had been killed by “long preaching” and that William Clowes was mainly responsible, as he had presumed to hold a camp meeting with nobody but himself and Simcock to carry it on. The myth flourished until 1833, when Clowes felt called upon to “scotch’’ it in open Conference. In these days the myth would not have survived the month. A single letter to the Connexional paper would have served for its quiets,
When on his way home from his Nottinghamshire campaign in 1818, Clowes called to see Simcock’s widow, who was sick unto death, In the Journal we read: “She took her husband’s complaint, which was a consumption brought on by being overheated. (See a memoir of him in the July number of the Primitive Methodist Magazine for the year 1819).” The careful reference to the authority for the “overheated” is very significant. Samuel Simcock had been thirty-three years in his grave when these words were written, but it was the remembrance of the myth that had plagued his life for so many years that guided Clowes’ pen. It means: ‘’No; I did not make Simcock preach himself to death, as was bruited about the Connexion. It was not overpreaching that killed him but overheating. There, in the first volume of the Magazine, the fact is recorded by Hugh Bourne himself.’’
Samuel Simcock was much beloved by both our chief founders. Hugh Bourne ends his memorial tribute on a tender note:— ‘‘His course was short but filled with great usefulness. He was like a fine musical instrument—always in tune: a strain of pious conversation flowed from him in all places and upon all occasions, and his conduct ornamented the Christian character in his own neighbourhood.”
Clowes’ tribute, too, is surcharged with feeling: ‘‘With Samuel I was intimately acquainted. With him I often took sweet counsel, and was refreshed in spirit. I admired his piety and zeal in the good cause. I was entertained in his house and felt much affected by his death.”
Simcock is not recalled here simply because he happened to be living in 1813 and actively engaged in church-work in the Derbyshire Primitive Methodist area; or because his house was a Pilgrims’ Inn, where the brethren were often found and were always welcome. Certainly these things also belong to history, and the mind loves to dwell on them; yet it is for another reason Samuel Simcock is referred to in this connection. Day by day he religiously trained his children on a given system which he thoroughly believed in. This system he had learned at Bemersley, where at an earlier time he was a frequent visitor. His pedagogics in short were those of James and Hugh Bourne. In 1813 the religious instruction of children in these Derbyshire villages was greatly occupying Hugh Bourne’s mind, and hence his memoir of Simcock is of value as showing the revolution that has taken place in our ideas as to the right method of child-training.
Primitive Methodist Magazine 1913/424