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WESLEYAN-METHODIST MAGAZINE.

DECEMBER, 1881.

MEMORIAL SKETCH OF MR. GEORGE MARSDEN:

OF PATRICROFT, NEAR MANCHESTER:

BY MR. C. W. RIPPON.

On the third page of the life of Dr. Bunting mention is made of the conversion of a gentleman named MARSDEN and his four sons, under the preaching of John Bennet, at Chelmorton, near Monyash, in Derbyshire. The family was of ancient lineage and high respectability, and has exercised a great and growing influence down to the present day. The effects which may follow the conversion of a single soul are incalculable, and may give a new impulse to the Church and affect the destiny of nations. The streams of influence flowing from a family which was purified at its fountain-head, and in the course of a few generations becomes almost patriarchal in its dimensions, may be broad and deep, and may very sensibly affect the moral and spiritual wellbeing of multitudes. This was the case with the Marsden family, from one branch of which the subject of this notice was descended.

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One of the four brothers, RICHARD, was the father of Mr. John Marsden, formerly of Cross Lane, Salford, and of Mrs. Burgess and Mrs. Fogg, who may still live in the recollection of a few aged people as resident at Worsley, near Manchester, many years ago, and members of the Methodist Society there.

The second brother, Mr. JOHN MARSDEN, was born in 1721, and was about twenty years old when John Bennet preached in his father's barn. He on that occasion obtained a clear sense of pardon, which he retained throughout his life. He became the friend and adviser of Mr. Wesley, and after a brief residence in Manchester, helping the cause there, he removed to London in 1765, principally that he might be near him. Mr. Wesley said of him- If there be a Methodist in England, it is John Marsden, of London.' He was greatly respected in the metropolis as a merchant, and his religious reputation is curiously evidenced in an old caricature wherein he is represented, as one of an assembly of merchants in the Royal Exchange, on his knees, praying in a corner of the room! He married Miss Hannah Buxton, in 1758. It was through a conversation with this excellent lady that Thomas Lomas, father of the Rev. Robert Lomas, and grandfather of the Rev. John Lomas, was led to a knowledge of the truth. So highly was Mr. John Marsden esteemed by the Preachers, that at the London Conference of 1796 and 1800, and at that of 1799 in Manchester,

he was allowed to sit in Conference with them whenever he pleased. Memoirs of him, and of his wife who died shortly after him, appeared in the Methodist Magazine for 1808. His daughters were well known in Wesleyan circles. One became the wife of Mr. Richard Bealey, of Radcliffe, the founder of the widely-known and influential Methodist family of that name. Another was married to the Rev. Dr. Townley, who was President of the Conference in 1829. Two other of his daughters were Mrs. Marshall, of Lynn, and Mrs. Scholes, mother of the late Rev. James Scholes. He had also three sons, of whom the third, WILLIAM, married Miss Dorothy Buxton, the sister of Mrs. Hannah Marsden, and had three sons and a daughter, all of whom attained to positions of distinction and honour-namely, Mr. John Marsden, of Manchester, for many years an influential Methodist, who held various local and Connexional offices in the Society, and whose house near the Infirmary was one of Mr. Wesley's favourite homes; the Rev. William Marsden, B.D., who for a long period was Vicar of Eccles; the Rev. George Marsden, who entered the Wesleyan ministry in 1793, and was twice President of the Conference; and Mrs. Reece, the wife of the Rev. Richard Reece, who was also twice called to fill the Presidential chair.

The fourth brother, GEORGE, was the father of Mr. John Marsden, of Liverpool, and grandfather of the subject of this sketch.

The family descended from 'the four pious Chelmorton brothers' is much more extensive than the few foregoing particulars indicate; but it would expand this paper far beyond its limits to extend our notices further than the third generation of those who have sprung from Mr. Marsden, sen., of Chelmorton. The family has supplied to the Established Church many respected Clergymen, not a few of whom are still found in its Ministry. It has also contributed largely to the numbers and influence of the Methodist Church, many members of the family being at the present time either Ministers or prominent laymen within its fold.

The late Mr. George Marsden, of Patricroft, was born at Liverpool on the 29th of December, 1805, and died on the 30th of January, 1881, having entered his seventy-sixth year. His maternal great grandfather was Mr. Joseph Walton, of Skelgill Close, near Alston, Cumberland, who married Miss Catherine Wilkinson, both of them being of respectable ancestry. They welcomed the first of Mr. Wesley's itinerants on the Cumberland moors, and the first Methodist Society of those parts was formed at Alston about the year 1750. Mr. Walton was the first Wesleyan in that locality, and was, it is believed, the leader of the first Class at Alston Moor. Amongst others who were greatly helped in their spiritual life at Alston was Joseph Benson, who, in his youthful days, was often a visitor in Mr. Walton's family. Mr. Walton's eldest son, Christopher, was maternal grandfather to Mr. George Marsden. His wife was Hannah Makepeace, of Alston, who, up to the time of her marriage, was a member of the Society of Friends, but who forfeited her place in that community by

marrying beyond its pale. For many years he resided at Stanhope, where he was instrumental in introducing and establishing Wesleyan-Methodism. In 1799 he removed to Worsley, near Manchester, where he brought up his large family 'in the nurture and admonition of the Lord,' being therein greatly aided by his excellent wife. Mr. and Mrs. Walton founded the first regular Methodist Classes at Worsley, Walkden Moor, and several other villages in that neighbourhood. He was the chief means of building the present Worsley Chapel, in 1801, and a few years subsequently of the one at Walkden Moor.

Mr. Walton was a man of resolute character and of somewhat stern resolve, exercising a firm but kind authority in his family, and disregarding the opposition with which he was frequently assailed on account of his Methodism. Two instances may be given in illustration of this latter trait in his character. Whilst he resided at Stanhope, the Rector of the parish, who was violently opposed to Methodism, sent the parish constable on the Sunday morning to bring him to church, the law at that time allowing of such compulsion. He cheerfully complied, went with the constable, and devoutly joined in the whole of the liturgical service, but when the Rector ascended the pulpit to deliver the sermon which he had specially prepared for the purpose of annihilating the schismatics, Mr. Walton, having then complied with the legal obligation, took his hat and quietly left the church, leaving the Rector to fulminate his anathemas before his own adherents only. It is hardly necessary to say that the experiment was not repeated. On another occasion, after his removal to Worsley, where he was the tenant of the Old Hall,' under the Duke of Bridgewater, and supplied the Duke with fresh-churned butter for his breakfast every morning (Sundays excepted), the Duke sent his valet to tell him that his preaching spoiled the butter.' His reply was, 'Tell the Duke that if he can get better butter elsewhere I hope he will do so, but that he has nothing to do with my preaching.' In this case also the experiment was not repeated, nor did the incident affect the relations of landlord and tenant.

Mary, the third daughter of Christopher Walton, married John Marsden, of Liverpool. She was subsequently well known as Mrs. Mary Marsden, of Worsley, and as one of the warmest and most liberal supporters of Methodism there, her house being always open to Ministers and Local Preachers, and to all who were engaged in the Master's service. George Marsden, the subject of this sketch, was the eldest of their five children. A man who attains to his mature age does not leave many survivors who know much personally of his early life: but some of those whom he has left behind have heard his mother speak of his early conversion and youthful piety. She passed through a sea of troubles, and has often been heard to describe the consolation and support she derived from the affection and sympathy of her children, especially of her eldest son. Her youngest son died early, leaving a blessed testimony of his interest in the atonement. The younger of her two daughters, a devout and earnest Christian (of

whom a memorial sketch appeared in this Magazine for 1857) also died during her mother's lifetime. Her three other children outlived her, but have now passed away, her eldest son having been the last survivor.

When about fourteen years of age George Marsden removed from Liverpool to Worsley, where he was introduced into the service of the Trustees of the late Duke of Bridgewater, as a clerk in the principal office of that establishment. After serving an apprenticeship of seven years at Worsley, he was removed to Manchester, and there, by his fidelity and intelligence, he soon gained a good position. About seven years afterwards he was appointed the local representative of the Bridgewater Trust interests in Manchester, thus obtaining at a comparatively early age one of the most important and responsible offices in a service where the competitors were numerous, and promotions proverbially slow. He held that position for nearly thirty-five years, and then it was only in consequence of the great changes which were in contemplation, and his reluctance to enter a new service, that he resigned a post which he had held so long with honour to himself and advantage to his employers, who showed their appreciation of his worth by bestowing upon him a liberal pension for the remainder of his life.

His connection with Methodism commenced before his removal from Liverpool, and existed without interruption for a period of more than sixty years. In both fraternal and maternal lines of descent he was a Methodist of the fourth generation, and the succession is still continued in his children and grandchildren, who are connected with and attached to that branch of the Christian Church to which their ancestors have been indebted for so long a time for their religious training and spiritual life. May the holy savour of his piety and his efforts to promote the moral and spiritual wellbeing of mankind be perpetuated through them to the end of time! Whilst residing at Worsley he belonged to the Salford Circuit; but soon after he settled in Manchester he joined the Society in the Great BridgewaterStreet Circuit, and continued to be a member therein till his death, a period of more than half a century. At an early date in his career he took a prominent position in his Circuit, filling in succession nearly all the offices for which a layman is eligible. He was never a Local Preacher, not considering that his forte; but his backwardness in this respect did not arise from want of qualification. In intellectual ability, clearness of theological views, fulness of information, and power of expression, he was well fitted for the office, and with practice would have become thoroughly efficient. The essays and sermons which he read at the meetings of a Mutual Improvement Society, to which for some time he belonged, were elevated in tone and faultless in style, and showed that if he had given himself either to literary pursuits or to public speaking, he would have acquitted himself creditably, and 'purchased a good degree;' but his ideal standard of quali fication for the pulpit was very high. He had been brought up at the feet of such men as Clarke, Watson, Bunting, Newton, Grindrod, Steward,

Prest, Hannah, and Lomas; and whilst he was ever tolerant of the humble efforts of the most homely preachers, if they were simple, natural, and sincere, he felt that there could be no middle course for him. He was not one of those who boldly rush where angels fear to tread,' and he modestly shrank from an office which he regarded as the highest and holiest on earth; and lacking the inward conviction and outward providential indications that he was called to devote himself exclusively to the ministry of the Gospel, he contentedly settled down into what he viewed as a humbler sphere, in which, however, he found himself surrounded by open doors of usefulness. Through very similar feelings, he could never be induced, though often solicited, to take the office of Class-leader. His high ideal standard of fitness was an insuperable barrier, though his modest estimate of his own qualifications was completely at variance with that of all his friends.

He was, however, for many years, up to the period of his comparative retirement from active life, the most influential man in his Circuit, and in addition to many local offices, he held important Connexional appointments. He was a member of the General Chapel Committee from the time when it was reconstituted and placed upon its present basis; and was up to the time of his death one of the Treasurers of the Didsbury branch of the Wesleyan Theological Institution. He also rendered important service to the Foreign Missionary Society as one of the Secretaries of the Manchester and Bolton District.

In 1836 he was united in marriage to Miss Sarah Beckett, of Hulme, who belonged to an old Methodist family. She was a lady of great intellectual power, a very intelligent and efficient Class-leader, and in other respects an active and valuable member of the Society. Their married life was prolonged till within a few months of his own death.

Few laymen in Methodism had a more extensive acquaintance with the Ministers of the Connexion, amongst whom he had many intimate friends, the attachment being heightened on his part by the profound respect he ever felt for talent devoted to the purest and noblest objects. He delighted in the society of those who studied to show themselves approved unto God, workmen that needed not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. He had to lament the removal of nearly all his early contemporaries; but he was often consoled by the thought that, as so many beloved friends had gone before him, he would not be a stranger in heaven, but would be permitted at once to renew, under infinitely higher conditions, the fellowship which had been so precious to him on earth. From the first Superintendent of the Great Bridgewater-Street Circuit in 1827, down to the Ministers who were stationed in it at the time of his death, there was scarcely one with whom he was not on the most cordial and intimate terms. His hospitable house was ever open to them; his hearty kindness and judicious counsels were always available, and were highly appreciated by them. Perhaps no man ever followed out more fully the apostolic exhortation,

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