MossValley: Chap 6/Pt 1, Fifty Years of Sheffield Church Life 1866-1916, by Rev William Odom
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Continuing the transcript of

Fifty Years of Sheffield Church Life

The Rev. W. Odom

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Hon. Canon of Sheffield

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Chapter VI - Part 1


But as we meet and touch each day
The many travellers on our way,
Let every such brief contact be
A glorious, helpful ministry!
Each helping on the other's best,
And blessing each as well as blest!

During the last fifty years it has been my privilege to know a very large number of Churchmen, both clerical and lay, with many of whom I have had much pleasant and profitable intercourse, including not a few true friends who have helped to make me what I am, friends who have done their work, and are now at rest. For more than thirty years it has been a sad duty to write for The Record "In Memoriam" notices relating to many of these. During this period three Archbishops of York have passed away: Dr. Thomson, Dr. Magee, and Dr. Maclagan.

Archbishop Thomson entered into rest on Christmas Day, 1890, after a rule of twenty-eight years over the Northern Diocese. His last visit to Sheffield was on the re-opening of the enlarged church at Heeley, in the May previous. Although he had passed the allotted span of three score and ten years we little thought as we beheld his erect and apparently vigorous frame in our pulpit that it would be our last opportunity on earth of hearing his wise and weighty words, so full of encouragement and hope. The Archbishop's cheerful and genial manner at the vicarage on that day will long remain a happy memory. By his death, I lost more than a bishop and patron. I lost a kind friend and fatherly adviser. I was confirmed by him in Sheffield shortly after he became Archbishop. He admitted me into the sacred ministry of the Church. Two years later he was one of four patrons who appointed me to St. Simon's. In the autumn of 1888 he offered me in the kindest manner the Vicarage of Heeley. More than once he encouraged my literary efforts, and allowed me to dedicate my book on the Church of England – its Principles, &c., to him. Amid much uphill work and many anxious days it was a real joy to know that I had his confidence.

Dr. Thomson was pre-eminently "a man of power". As one of his chaplains, the Hon. Carr Glyn, afterwards Bishop of Peterborough, said:

"He was a man of deep and earnest piety, of simple habits, of wide research, and great humility. He had that power of greatness which scorned to let companions of inferior intellectual power feel their inferiority. His heart was as great as his mind. Perhaps he never showed to more advantage than when he found himself face to face with a great audience of north-country working-men. He loved those working-men, and they both loved and honoured him."

Often have I been present at memorable meetings at the Albert Hall, and the Drill Hall, crowded with men of all classes anxious to hear "our Archbishop". It was at these meetings addressing the workers of our city that he was seen in his strength, and it was fitting that sixteen Sheffield working-men should have had the honour and last loving service of bearing the body of the honoured Archbishop to his quiet resting-place in the churchyard of Bishopthorpe.

The testimony of the late T. W. Holmes, a well-known Congregational Minister of Sheffield, is worthy of quotation here. He said:

"The Archbishop was never happier than when he stood the centre of thousands of eyes, speaking to working-men about the religion of the Lord Jesus Christ, to which, with all his weight of learning, he was loyal to his heart's core. He was a man who believed and preached the simple Gospel. He was a great scholar with the faith of a little child. ... It was not possible in any of his recorded utterances to find a single ungenerous reference to Nonconformists."

It is a matter of regret and surprise that whilst the lives of many Archbishops and Bishops have been published, none has appeared of one of the greatest of the Archbishops of York. Mrs. Thomson had set her heart on a memoir of her husband being written, and a great deal of correspondence took place on the subject, though eventually the plan was postponed. Some years ago I ventured to suggest to Mr. John Murray that a volume containing the excellent estimate of the character and work of the Archbishop which appeared in the Quarterly Review for April, 1892, with selections from his sermons and speeches, would be acceptable to a large circle of Churchmen, both clerical and lay, but he was unable to entertain the project.

Mrs. Thomson, whose delightful address at the opening of the Heeley Church Bazaar is given in a previous chapter, passed away just before Christmas of 1913. Her body rests in the quiet churchyard of Bishopthorpe by the side of her husband, under the shadow of the home where she had spent twenty-six happy years. Very tender were the words spoken at her graveside by Archbishop Lang, who said,

"Surely this reunion in the shadow of the old home is to us a very moving and inspiring symbol of the more perfect reunion of their spirits in the home which lies beyond the grave. It is indeed striking that both he and she entered upon their rest at this Christmas season, and that their passing should be linked with the memories and associations of the great festival of the home ... and it is not so much of her passing away that we should think, as of the entry of her spirit, and reunion with the spirit which was more to her than any other, into the fuller, richer, and eternal life."

Dr. Thomson was followed by Dr. Magee, Bishop of Peterborough, who lived only a few months after his enthronement in York Minster; a memorable occasion on which I was present. The preacher was the eloquent poet, Archbishop Alexander. Early in April, Archbishop Magee made his first and only visit to Sheffield, when he was presented with addresses of welcome from the Clergy and the Corporation. It was evident to those who listened to his short but eloquent address in the Cutlers' Hall that he was far from well, in consequence of which other engagements had to be abandoned. He died on the 5th of May, 1891.

Dr. Maclagan, Bishop of Lichfield, succeeded Dr. Magee. Like his predecessor, Dr. Thomson, he was a frequent visitor to our city, and became fond of its people. We shall long remember his erect soldierly bearing, his gentle manner, and the deeply spiritual tone of his addresses. He visited Heeley in November, 1893, when he opened the Hartley Street Schools, and held the first confirmation service ever held in the church. He was to have dedicated the new south aisle of the church in September, 1897, but three hours before the service he sent a telegram expressing great sorrow at not being able to be present in consequence of sudden illness. He came, however, on Sunday, November 14th, that same year, and preached an impressive sermon from Psalm lxxiii, 24 – "Whom have I in heaven but Thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire in comparison of Thee." Dr. Maclagan was aware of my decided evangelical and protestant views, but, high churchman as he was, I invariably received from him the greatest consideration and kindness, and shall long revere his memory. He contributed £10 towards our church enlargement, and also £5 to the new organ. His life was long and busy, and although not the greatest of the long line of Archbishops of York, he was one of the most diligent and spiritually minded. Sheffield churchmen owe him a debt of gratitude for his untiring efforts to found their See. He wrote several beautiful hymns, including "The Saints of God, their conflict past". He resigned the Archbishopric 1908, and passed away at London in September, 1910, at the great age of eighty-four years.

Dr. Maclagan was succeeded by Dr. Cosmo Lang, who quickly gained the confidence and affection of Sheffield churchmen. He successfully pressed on the new bishopric scheme, and more than once has expressed regret at the severance of Sheffield from his oversight.

Canon Sale, after holding the vicarage of Sheffield for twenty-two years, died with startling suddenness on September 20th, 1873. He was the sympathetic friend of many young men. He held firmly his evangelical convictions with wide charity, and was highly esteemed by all classes, who deeply sorrowed when he was taken away. To the close of his life he was bright, cheerful and vigorous, his bearing and temper apparently untouched by age. His generosity is shown by the fact that he headed the subscription list of the first Sheffield Church Extension Society with one year's clerical income, which was then £500. The Sale Memorial Church, in the parish of St. Luke, Dyer's Hill, stands as a worthy monument to his memory.

To few men does the Church owe more than to the late Bishop Moorhouse, who was born in Sheffield in 1826, his father being Master Cutler in 1840. After serving as curate at St. Neot's, he returned as curate of the Parish Church of his native town, under Canon Sale, whose daughter he married. Whilst curate, he founded the Church of England Educational Institute already mentioned. At the beginning he had only twenty students, but within two years he had gathered together a strong staff of teachers and more than 400 students. He was the prime mover in building the Church Institute in St. James' Street. This movement was due to his experience at the People's College,* of which he was a student when sixteen years of age, and for the Principal of which, R. S. Bayley, a Nonconformist minister, he retained the highest respect.

[ * Footnote – See The Story of the People's College by Professor G. O. Moore Smith (Northend, 1912). ]

In 1859 Mr. Moorhouse went to London, where he became vicar of two important parishes and Prebendary of St. Paul's. In 1876 he was consecrated Bishop of Melbourne, in which diocese he spent nearly ten strenuous years. On the death of Bishop Fraser of Manchester, Bishop Moorhouse was called back home to fill the vacant post, for which as an eloquent speaker, an able preacher, with marked business abilities, he was admirably fitted. Shortly after the Bishop's return to England, he and Mrs. Moorhouse were entertained to dinner at the Cutlers' Hall by a number of influential townsmen. The Chairman (Mr. Henry Stephenson, J.P.), said he remembered the first sermon of their guest in the Parish Church, from the text, "This one thing I do". In a happy and most eloquent reply, the Bishop spoke of his work, saying: "I never sought a piece of preferment, but tried to turn my natural abilities to the best account, to work hard, and to speak the truth without fear or favour". He recounted his experiences at the Church Educational Institute, his encounters with opponents at open-air meetings at the West Bar Pumps, and concluded by saying that he wished to leave on record that most of the profit and pleasure of his life could be traced to the influence of his native town. The Bishop resigned the See of Manchester in 1903, and entered into rest, after a long and strenuous life, in April, 1915, having reached his eighty-ninth year.

Canon Rowley Hill, who succeeded Canon Sale, by his powerful preaching attracted to the Parish Church very large congregations. He was noted for his ready wit. It is said that one day he called upon a well-known wealthy brewer called Stones, who, after showing some hesitation, was told by Mr. Hill that churches could not be built without stones, which secured a cheque for £50. In response to his desire that the Parish Church should be improved, Mrs. Thornhill Gell promised £10,000, whilst Mrs. S. Parker undertook a new north transept. He had only been four years Vicar of Sheffield when he was appointed Bishop of Sodor and Man. He, too, died suddenly in London, in May, 1887, much loved and deeply regretted, and is commemorated by the "Rowley Hill Chapel" in Sheffield Cathedral, in which is a fine memorial window.

Little more than fifty years ago, one of the most able and eloquent Vicars of Sheffield was William Wilkinson, Vicar of St. Mary's, which had a large and influential congregation. After a vicariate of nearly three years at Holy Trinity in the Wicker, he went in 1853 to St. Mary's, where he remained until 1866, when he accepted the Rectory of St. Martin's, Birmingham. On his last visit to Sheffield in September, 1891, he preached in Heeley Church, and although he had attained the age of seventy-five years he was still the old man eloquent.

Dr. Wilkinson was succeeded at St. Mary's by Charles E. Lamb, well known as a most active and successful pastor. Cheery and sympathetic, he made friends everywhere, and it was during his vicariate that he founded the church and parish of St. Barnabas. He left Sheffield in 1877 for Beverley Minster; subsequently he became Vicar of St. George's, Leeds, and ultimately retired to a quiet country living in Devonshire. He took a keen interest in the Church Missionary Society, of which he was an indefatigable supporter, and passed away in 1912, and the ripe age of eighty-two. My first venture as a young layman in conducting a mission service was at his invitation in the Hermitage Street schoolroom.

Of the Archdeacons of Sheffield the first was John Edward Blakeney, whose name and work will long have a warm place in the memory and affections of the people. His ministry at St. Paul's from 1860 to 1877 was in every way successful and fruitful. During his vicariate there a vicarage house was built; the fine block of schools and parochial buildings in Cambridge Street was also erected, at a cost of 5,000. No class of persons was overlooked during these seventeen years of happy ministry. The lines of Pollock fully apply to Mr. Blakeney:

"He taught,
Rebuked, persuaded, solaced, counselled, warned,
In fervent style and manner; needy, poor,
And dying men, like music, heard his feet
Approach their beds, and guilty wretches took
New hope, and in his prayers wept and smiled,
And blessed him."

On the elevation of Rowley Hill to the Bishopric of Sodor and Man in 1877, Mr. Blakeney, who in the previous year had become a Canon of York, was, to the great delight of Sheffield people, preferred to the Vicarage of the Mother Church, which he held to his death, in 1895. In 1884, Archbishop Thomson created the new Archdeaconry of Sheffield, and, as a further proof of confidence, appointed Canon Blakeney to be Archdeacon. I cannot say all I desire respecting the life and work of "a man greatly beloved". On January 12th, 1895, he was called to lay aside sword and trowel, to the inexpressible sorrow of Sheffield people. A full account of his work and ministry will be found in my 'Memories of the Life and Work of John Edward Blakeney, D.D.', a book which I was privileged to write. It was my happiness to have him as a valued friend and counsellor for many years, and, with a great number of others, I can say, "In old days it was strength to be with him: for the future it will be strength to remember him". In the chancel of the Cathedral Church, near to Archbishop Thomson's Memorial, is a fine bust of the Archdeacon in marble – a striking likeness – by Mr. Onslow Ford, R.A.; whilst in the Cutlers' Hall is a fine painting of the Archdeacon in characteristic attitude, by Mr. A. Stuart-Wortley. In St. Simon's parish are the "Blakeney Memorial Schools". We have in Sheffield memorial churches to Dr. Sale, Archdeacon Favell, and Archdeacon Eyre. Is it too late for a "Blakeney Memorial Church"? No one could be more worthy. Would not the East Bank district of the large parish of Heeley be a suitable position for such a church?

Henry Arnold Favell, who succeeded Dr. Blakeney as Archdeacon of Sheffield in 1895, was a native of the town. After ten years of successful ministry as Vicar of St. George's, Sheffield, where he succeeded William Mercer, the editor of the Church Psalter and Hymn Book, Mr. Favell, at the close of 1883, accepted St. Mark's, vacant by the resignation of William Milton, where for thirteen years he ministered to one of the largest, most influential, and most generous congregations in Sheffield. In 1890 Archbishop Thomson appointed him to a Canonry in York Minster. Possessing a commanding figure and a magnificent voice, big-minded and big-hearted, his ministry throughout clearly proved that a manly and tolerant Churchmanship is entirely consistent with a faithful adherence to the evangelical and protestant principles of the Church of England which he held and maintained. The poorer parishes of the city had in him ever a warm friend of practical sympathies. In the cause of Missions, whether at home or abroad, he was an enthusiast. He was always cheerful and happy, even when the hand of death had touched him. He died in September, 1896. That so noble a worker was called from the great harvest field at the early age of fifty-one is one of those Divine mysteries which we cannot now understand. St. Augustine's Church, Brocco Bank, known as the "Favell Memorial Church", stands as an abiding monument to the memory of this gifted and faithful servant of God.

John Rashdall Eyre, of St. Helen's, succeeded Dr. Blakeney as Vicar, as also in the office of Archdeacon. He laboured with great zeal and acceptance for seventeen years. His death, in June, 1912, was preceded by a long and pathetic illness, his devoted wife being hopelessly ill at the same time and passing away eight weeks later. Kind and tolerant, he held evangelical principles with great tenacity, and was a whole-hearted supporter of the Church Missionary Society, the Church Pastoral Aid Society, and other evangelical institutions. He was a diligent Bible student, and an able expositor of Holy Scripture. The "Eyre Memorial Church", St. Clement's, Newhall, in which working-class district he took a special interest, is an abiding tribute to his memory.

He was succeeded in office, both as Vicar and Archdeacon, by Herbert Gresford Jones, who worthily follows in the steps of his revered predecessors, in the great and responsible offices which it is his privilege to hold.

Samuel Earnshaw, one of the best-known, highly-honoured, and most learned of the Sheffield clergy, passed away on December 5th, 1888, at the ripe age of eighty-four years. A native of Sheffield, of comparatively humble parentage, he made his way by sheer industry to the University at a time when educational advantages were scant compared with those of to-day. He was the last of a long succession of Assistant Ministers or Chaplains of the Parish Church, a position which he held forty-one years, during which he took an active part in all religious, educational and philanthropic movements. After gaining a scholarship at St. John's College, Cambridge, he graduated in 1831 as Senior Wrangler,* and also First Smith's Prizeman.

[ * Footnote – It is interesting to note that John Webster, son of Leonard Webster, of the King's Head, Change Alley, Sheffield, was Senior Wrangler and First Chancellor's Medallist in 1756. ]

His character was truly summed up by the Sheffield Telegraph thus:

"As a preacher, a scholar, a mathematician, a controversialist, an educationist, a philanthropist, and a simple-hearted Christian gentleman, he was alike conspicuous. Pride and ambition were absolutely wanting."

To the younger clergy of the day he was as a father, giving us wise and helpful counsel. We cherish the memory of one who could "blend the awe of age with the sweetness of a child". The Earnshaw Scholarships at the Sheffield University, and a memorial window in the Cathedral Church, keep his name in remembrance.

I have pleasant recollections of Charles George Coombe, who for twenty-seven years was Vicar of Crookes, then a small village, and of the great kindness he manifested to me both before and after my ordination. He was a man of scholarly attainments, warm-hearted and tolerant, and a consistent adherent to evangelical principles. For many years he was the secretary of the Sheffield Scripture Readers' Society. His departure from Sheffield in 1882 for the Vicarage of St. Paul's, Worthing, was much regretted by a wide circle. He died at Worthing in March, 1902, at the age of seventy-nine years. He was succeeded at Crookes by Constantine Clementson, curate of the Parish Church, gentle, cultured, and thoughtful, who, after a ministry of nine years, died in September, 1901, at the early age of forty-six years.

George Sandford, who came to Sheffield in 1840 as the Vice-Principal of the Collegiate School, was appointed Vicar of St. Jude's, Eldon Street, in 1846, where he remained until 1880, when he succeeded the gentle Edward Newman as Vicar of Ecclesall. During twenty-eight years he was Chaplain to the General Cemetery, where his reverent and beautiful reading of the Burial Service is still remembered. He was, perhaps, the most scholarly of the Sheffield clergy; his chaste and eloquent addresses at various gatherings were noteworthy. Humble and courtly in manner, ever ready with fatherly counsel and encouragement to the younger clergy, he was one of a school of clergy which seems to have well-nigh died out. On his eightieth birthday Mr. Sandford was the recipient on an illuminated address from thirty-three of the beneficed clergy of the city, expressive of the high esteem in which they held him. In his reply, after referring to the many changes which had taken place in the fifty-three years since he came, he said: "I deem it a high privilege to be a member and minister of our Scriptural and Reformed Church, and to have my lot cast in the city of Sheffield". He died in September, 1898, at the ripe age of eighty-two years, widely esteemed as scholar, pastor, and friend.

The first Vicar of Sharrow, Dr. Edmund Boteler Chalmer, eldest son of a former Vicar of Fulwood, was suddenly called to cease his labours on March 21st, 1883. After spending ten years at Sharrow, he was appointed first vicar of the new and beautiful church of Ranmoor, where, after ministering four years, he passed away in his fifty-sixth year. He was a zealous pastor, a genial friend, a loyal churchman, an acute thinker, and one of the most eloquent and able preachers Sheffield ever possessed. He was one of many who manifested to me special kindness in my curate days, when my vicar, James Battersby, frequently allowed me to help him on Sunday mornings at Sharrow, which gave me the opportunity of hearing his thoughtful discourses.

The work and character of my old vicar, James Battersby, who passed away in December, 1899, in his seventy-seventh year, are fully set forth in a previous chapter. All that I need here say is that I shall ever hold him in affectionate and grateful remembrance.

Of Charles Sisum Wright, the first Vicar of St. Silas, I have pleasant recollections, inasmuch as in the anxious early months of my ministry he showed me much kindness and sympathy. He was a native of Sheffield, an excellent pastor, a good business man, and one of the local secretaries at the Church Congress. In 1878, Archbishop Thomson appointed him Vicar of Doncaster, and later, a Canon of York. He was a devoted parish worker, and is widely remembered for his genial personality, happy tactfulness, and business aptitude. Archbishop Thomson once described him as "the man of unerring judgement". At the time of his death he was Rector of Stokesley, and his body rests in the quiet churchyard of Eyam, his ancestral home.

Few Sheffield clergymen have been more highly respected and appreciated than Henry Henton Wright. He had been a curate at St. George's with William Mercer, and was, on the death of Thomas Best in 1865, appointed to the Vicarage of St. James's, where he remained until 1879, when he became Vicar of St. Silas's. Amiable and most sympathetic, he had the esteem and confidence of a wide circle of friends. He passed to his rest, after a distressing illness, in November, 1898, aged sixty-seven years, and was succeeded by Edmund Bonfellow, the first Vicar of St. Anne's, who died in 1908.

Robert Henry Hammond was for seven years my neighbour in the adjoining parish of St. Mary, to which he went in 1893, being appointed by his old vicar, Archdeacon Blakeney. My first recollection of Mr. Hammond dates back to 1864-65, the time he was curate to John Edward Blakeney. I recall seeing him coming from St. Paul's at the close of a Sunday evening service with a chair on his shoulder, which, on reaching the pump at Barker Pool, he mounted and addressed a great crowd. His vicariate of St. Mary's, 1893-1902, was characterized by solid and constant personal service. He was an earnest and widely-appreciated mission preacher, attached great importance to out-door services and pastoral visitation, and was one of the most earnest, hard-working vicars that Sheffield ever possessed. After apparently recovering from a somewhat serious illness, he passed away with startling suddenness in November, 1902.* It was truly said of him that "he was wholly consecrated to his Master, and lived for his people a simple, strenuous, self-sacrificing life."

[ * Footnote – A full account of Mr. Hammond's strenuous work at Spitalfields London, and Sheffield, by his wife, entitled, A Fruitful Ministry, was published in 1908. ]

Canon Chorlton, my friend some years before my ordination, as he was the friend of many other young men, was another of the best-known and widely-respected clergymen of the city. After being second master of the Sheffield Grammar School, he succeeded, in 1872, Henry Barlow as Vicar of Pitsmoor. He continued there to the time of his death, a period of nearly forty years. In 1905, Archbishop Maclagan appointed him to a Canonry at York, an honour which he highly prized. For thirty-six years he was one of the local secretaries of the Bible Society, in the interests of which he laboured most earnestly. Warm-hearted, broad-minded, genial, and sympathetic, he had the confidence of all who knew him. His Church views were decidedly evangelical, and he was a total abstainer and non-smoker. A favourite illustration in his earnest temperance and mission addresses was that his parish began with "The Barrel" (a public-house now pulled down), and ended with the Workhouse, then at the extreme end of his parish, but now in St. Cuthbert's. On the Sunday of his death, in November, 1911, although seventy-three years of age, he was apparently in the best of health, and had arranged to preach twice for the Church Pastoral Aid Society, when God's finger touched him, and before eventide his earthly life ceased, and he had entered upon the higher service.

Walter Senior was, during my vicariate of St. Simon's, my genial neighbour as vicar of the adjoining parish of St. Paul, in succession to W. H. Falloon; this was after seventeen years of active and fruitful ministerial life at Nottingham. My first sight of him was at a lecture he gave in 1866, in the Temperance Hall, to a crowded audience, on "Confession", when his masterly exposition of Protestant principles made a deep impression. This was during his first curacy at St. Paul's under John Edward Blakeney. Although more than fifty years have passed, I well remember the frail, spectacled figure, and the clear, attractive voice. After a short and most acceptable ministry of three years – 1884-87 – as Vicar of St. Paul's, he accepted, for reasons of health, the living of Holy Trinity, Margate, "the Visitors' Church", where he continued a spiritual force to his death. After a faithful ministry of fifteen years he died in April, 1902, shortly after a serious operation, much loved, widely esteemed, and deeply regretted.

[ Footnote – A brief memoir of Mr. Senior by his clerical son, "W.S.S.", with sermons, was published in 1904 (London: Elliot Stock). Edward Senior, brother to Walter, will be remembered as Head Master of the Sheffield Royal Grammar School, to which he was appointed in 1884. He, in 1902, died from brain collapse, the result of overwork. ]

Dr. Samuel George Potter, who came to Sheffield in 1869 as Vicar of St. Luke's, Hollis Croft, is still remembered by some. A learned, eloquent, and fiery Irishman, he revelled in controversy, and was widely known on the platform and in the press. During the earlier years of his ministry there was much political and ecclesiastical strife abroad, and Dr. Potter was always to the front. He was an able Church defender. For twenty years he was Vicar of St. Luke's, but as a zealous Orangeman, whose parishioners were for the most part Roman Catholics, he was a square man in a round hole. He died (1904) in South Devon at the age of eighty-two.

A greater contrast to Dr. Potter there could not well be than John Burbidge, the first Vicar of St. Stephen's, who died in London in February, 1908, in his eighty-third year. A decided Protestant, his teaching was thoroughly evangelical. He was a lovable man of great zeal, who gained the confidence of all who knew him. During his seventeen years' ministry – 1858-75 – at St. Stephen's the church was always full. He attracted large numbers of young men, who on the first Sunday of each year crowded his church to hear his special address to them. I well remember his genial, attractive style. Widespread regret was manifested in 1875 when he removed to Emmanuel Church, Liverpool, where, at a later period, he became a Canon of the Cathedral.

William Milton, first Vicar of St. Mark's, 1867-84, where he ministered to one of the most influential and generous congregations in the city. His Church views were decidedly evangelical. He was an able preacher, and an attractive platform speaker. He died in September, 1884.

Thomas Smith, first Vicar of Walkley, 1869-1901, a man of marked characteristics of the "John Bull" type. He was a most persistent and successful clerical beggar, and had the unique experience of reading his own obituary notice in the Sheffield Independent. During his vicariate the schools were erected, and land acquired for the Church Cemetery. He died in March, 1901.

Alfred Pearson, who came to Sheffield from Brighton in 1897 as Vicar of St. Mark's was, after a ministry of eight years, appointed Suffragen Bishop of Burnley. To the deep sorrow of a large circle in Sheffield and elsewhere, he passed away in the midst of his labours, and in the prime of life, in the month of March, 1909. He was a broad-minded evangelical, quiet and retiring in manner, an able, thoughtful preacher, as may be seen from a published volume of sermons, entitled, The Claims of the Faith. For some years he was the local secretary of the Church Pastoral Aid Society.

Joseph Busby Draper, first Vicar of All Saints', 1869-84, an able educationalist, and a writer of Sunday School Lesson Courses. During his ministry Emmanuel Church was built and the parish cut off from All Saints. He left for the vicarage of Strensall, York, in 1884, and died some years ago.

James George Williams, who for twenty-two years ministered to a wealthy congregation in one of the finest of the Sheffield churches, St. John's, Ranmoor, passed away in June, 1913, after a distressing illness, patiently borne. He was an intimate and much-valued friend, and my co-secretary for the Church Pastoral Aid Society. It was my sorrowful privilege to preach at a Memorial Service in the beautiful church in which he had so long ministered, and which he so much loved. Breezy, honest and outspoken, he was a hater of shams, and despised the mean man and the mean action. He used his exceptional opportunities for the benefit of every good work. To him nothing human was alien.

For thirty-five years James Gilmore held a prominent place in the Church life of Sheffield, first as Vicar of St. John's, Park, and as Vicar of St. Paul's from 1887 to October, 1915, when the hand of death stayed his activities. For several years he was Proctor in the Northern Convocation, and for ten years was Rural Dean of Sheffield. In 1907, he was appointed Canon of York by Archbishop Maclagan. For many years he took a prominent part in the work of elementary education, and for six years was Chairman of the Sheffield School Board. He was a man of strong character, and definite in his Protestant convictions, notwithstanding which he had the confidence and esteem of his fellow-clergy of all schools of thought. By his death the clergy lost a shrewd, tactful, and wise counsellor. He was a warm supporter of the Church Missionary Society, the Church Pastoral Aid Society, and other evangelical institutions. It was my privilege to visit him frequently during his long and painful illness, and I can never forget the unwavering fortitude and patient faith with which he bore the heavy cross which God had been pleased to lay upon him. In a touching tribute, the Bishop of Sheffield referred to

"that lovable Irish humour which enabled so stern and unbending an Ulsterman to recognize to the full the work and the merits of men with some of whose opinions he had no traditional sympathy."

James White Merryweather, Vicar of Fulwood, entered into rest in May, 1916, just after reaching the allotted span of three-score and ten years. His ministerial work at Carbrook commenced about the same time as mine at St. Simon's, so that during forty years we were contemporaries, bound together by congenial views and the bonds of friendship. His best work was done in the large parish of Carbrook, of which he was vicar for twenty-two years. The church there, one of the finest and largest in the city, was the result of his untiring labours. He was an ardent educationalist, and in 1897 was returned at the head of the poll with upwards of 40,000 votes, and when the Education Committee became the Authority he rendered valuable service as chairman and vice-chairman of various committees. In 1899, he courageously accepted from the Vicar of Sheffield the large parish of St. Philip, where he was the means of building an additional church, St. Nathanael's, now the centre of a separate parish. When practically worn out with incessant labours, he became, in 1912, vicar of the pleasant suburban parish of Fulwood, but it was evident to his friends that his work on earth was drawing to a close. He never fully recovered from a severe operation undergone two years before his death. His sufferings were acute, but he bore them with wonderful fortitude. He was among the first honorary Canons appointed to the Cathedral Church, and greatly valued the Bishop's recognition of his work. From first to last he was a most decided evangelical, holding Protestant views and the doctrines of grace with the utmost firmness. He was a diligent Bible student, with an exact and deep knowledge of Holy Scripture, a "rock man". He was a man to be trusted. All who knew him were compelled to admire his consistency of life and whole-hearted devotion.

With the passing of George William Clapham in November, 1916, Sheffield lost its oldest clergyman. I remember his coming to Sheffield, in 1876, as an Association Secretary of the Colonial and Continental Church Society. In 1899 he became the first vicar of the new parish of St. Matthias, a position which he held until his retirement at the close of 1911, in his eighty-ninth year, after which he lived in retirement until he reached the venerable age of ninety-four. He was remarkably vigorous and erect to within a few years of his death, when deafness shut him off from his clerical brethren and a wide circle of friends, by whom he was held in affectionate regard. He was an earnest and zealous pastor, holding the evangelical principles of his Church with great tenacity, simple piety, and tolerant outlook. He was an able and practical educationalist. For fifteen years he was Chapter Clerk of the Sheffield Rural Deanery. On his retirement, his parishioners and friends presented him with a cheque for £250. A fine stained-glass window in St. Matthias's Church is a memorial to his long and devoted ministry.

Ernest Vores Everard, who since 1912 had been vicar of the large parish of St. Philip, received in the very prime of his life the Home-call with startling suddenness in January, 1917, just as he was rising to speak to an audience of soldiers at Newcastle-on-Tyne. A son of George Everard, the well-known mission preacher and tract-writer, he partook very largely of his father's joyous and optimistic temperament. For twelve years, 1900-12, he was Vicar of St. James's, Sheffield. Musical, bright, and cheerful, he took sunshine wherever he went. Large-hearted and, like his father, a dedicated evangelical, he was held in high esteem by a wide circle.

Amongst other well-known and earnest Sheffield Vicars called to give up their work before life's eventide set in may be named Edmund Bonfellow, who had spent the whole of his ministerial life in Sheffield, first as curate at St. Mary's, then as first Vicar of St. Anne's, Netherthorpe, and for the last ten years of his life as Vicar of St. Silas's. A broad-minded evangelical, a quiet and diligent pastor, somewhat impulsive, but utterly unselfish, he died in July, 1908, at Lowestoft, whilst on his holiday.

William Todd, also at one time curate of St. Mary's, was for nine years – 1903-12 – Vicar of Holy Trinity, Wicker, where with unflagging energy, unable to obtain a colleague, he wore himself out and died in April, 1912, aged fifty-five years.

Edwin Tankard, a native of Sheffield, passed away in January, 1908, at the early age of fifty-one. After serving six years as curate of Pitsmoor under Canon Chorlton, he was preferred, in 1892, to the large working-class parish of Holy Trinity, Wicker, where amid many difficulties he faithfully laboured until 1903, when he became Vicar of Wadsley. He was a man of firm faith, great humility, intensely devoted to his pastoral duties.

Canon Julian, editor of the Dictionary of Hymnology, the greatest authority on the subject of hymns, was for nearly thirty years – 1876-1905 – Vicar of Wincobank, in the vicarage of which most of the work connected with this monumental book was done. He became Vicar of Topcliffe, where he died in 1913 at the age of 75.

Continue to the second part of Chapter 6

Return to
Beginning of this chapter: Part 1 of Chapter 6

or browse the chapter contents and illustrations below

Full Contents


Sheffield in the 'Sixties
The author's reminiscences of 'Old Sheffield' and its inhabitants.


The Church in Sheffield, 1866-1916
Brief history of the church in Sheffield and its development, timetable of subjects and tutors from an Educational Institute Class List of 1866, clergy names, benefactors, details of churches/parishes, etc — this chapter has been split into two pages, the link taking you to the first of these.


Memories of St. Simon's, 1877-1888
Details of this parish in one of the most densely-populated areas of Sheffield, anecdotes, names, etc.


Christ Church, Heeley, 1888-1916
History, descriptions and anecdotes of Heeley before it became developed, names of residents, and a comprehensive account of the author's incumbency, including details of the church extensions, building of the Sunday Schools, fundraising, collections and expenditure, a little about Nonconformists, names of curates/scripture readers/deaconesses/churchwardens etc, and the author's eventual retirement — this chapter has been split into two pages, the link taking you to the first of these.


Heeley and the War
Names of congregation members fallen in the Great War, including one VC (Sgt-Maj J C Raynes, Royal Artillery, with citation given), together with extracts from letters written by servicemen giving accounts of conditions at the front (France, Belgium, Egypt), their experiences in battle, and thoughts of home; also an account from a survivor of the sinking of the hospital ship 'Anglia' in the Channel.


THIS PAGE: Recollections — Men and Things - Part 1 (Part 2 is here).


Books and Travel
Author's favourite reading, details and a bibliography of other published work, and travel.


In Memoriam – Mary Odom
A very personal tribute from the author to his wife, Mary, who died in 1913.


"God and Cæsar." A Sermon preached before the Mayor and Corporation.
Text of a sermon preached at Sheffield Parish Church in 1887.


"Public Worship – its Methods." A Paper read at the Islington Clerical Meeting, London, 1903.
Text includes the author's observations on the principles established at the time of the Reformation, the dangers of a return to 'mediaevalism', and public worship as laid out in the Book of Common Prayer.

Names of Subscribers
(the names of over 250 subscribers listed alphabetically by surname, of interest to those who may be "ancestor hunting" (in many cases only initials are given, not christian names).
Please note these are only the names of pre-publication subscribers as printed in the book, but many more individuals are mentioned in the text whose names have not been indexed. Throughout this transcript most names have been highlighted in bold at least once (not necessarily if they are repeated). If searching for specific surnames, place names or any other information through the various chapters, make use of the Find or Search facility in your browser while on each page.

Illustrations from the book — click thumbnails for enlargement in a new window
(for chapters and contents, see list above)

Interior of Sheffield Cathedral - click for enlargement

Interior of Sheffield Cathedral Church
(St Peter & St Paul)

Leonard Hedley Burrows, Bishop of Sheffield - click for enlargement

The Bishop of Sheffield, Leonard Hedley Burrows, D.D.,
to whom the book is dedicated

St Simon's Church, Sheffield - click for enlargement

St. Simon's Church, Sheffield (covered in Chapter III)

Exterior of Christ Church, Heeley - click for enlargement

Christ Church, Heeley: exterior
(the author's time at Heeley is covered in Chapter IV)

Interior of Heeley Church - click for enlargement

Heeley Church: Interior

Floor plan of Heeley Church - click for enlargement

Floor plan of Heeley Church,
dating the various extensions

Whit-Monday at Heeley - click for enlargement

Whit-Monday at Heeley
(no date given, but possibly ca. 1916/1917)

Heeley Vicarage - click for enlargement

Heeley Vicarage
The individuals are not named, but could well be Rev and Mrs Odom

Rev. Canon William Odom - click for enlargement

The author,
Rev. Canon William Odom

Memorial Cross, Heeley Churchyard - click for enlargement

Memorial Cross for Mary Odom,
Heeley Churchyard (see Chapter VIII)

Memorial Window, Heeley Church - click for enlargement

Memorial and Commemoration Window, Heeley Church

Dedication - click for enlargement

This copy of the book includes a handwritten dedication
from the author to the Bishop of Sheffield, 1917

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