Extracts from the Diary of the Rev. Robert Meeke (1874) by Henry James Morehouse & Charles Augustus Hulbert
Whilst the foregoing pages have been in the press, two solemn events have occurred, which claim some notice here ― the sudden decease of the Rev. Reginald M. Hulbert, M.A., and of Joseph Hirst, Esq., J.P. The former having been referred to as one of the scholars; and to the latter the present publication had been dedicated.
REGINALD MOTTERSHEAD HULBERT,
Third son of the Reverend Charlee Augustus and Mary Hulbert, departed this life under affecting circumstances on the 20th of November, 1874, at No. 22, Spencer Square, Ramsgate, Kent. Having landed on the 1st of that month at Southampton on his return from India on sick leave, as one of Her Majesty's Junior Chaplains for the Madras Presidency, aged 31 years. He was born on the 9th of July, 1843, at Slaithwaite Parsonage, and received his first instruction from parental care, and at the Slaithwaite Free School for a short period under Mr. Charles Butler Hulbert, then master. On the suspension of the School he was removed to the Huddersfield Collegiate School, and walked thither daily for several years, a distance of five miles, returning by railway; ― and in consequence, he gained a Cup in the Athletic Sports of the University of Cambridge. Whilst under the tuition of the Rev. Abraham Smith, M.A., then as now the Principal, he reached the highest form in the Collegiate School; gained several prizes, and shared the best Exhibition with another deserving student, He proceeded in 1863 to Gonville and Caius College, and took his degree there of B.A. in the first class of ordinary degrees in 1866, and M.A. in 1869. He had early conceived a strong desire for Missionary labour in India or China, which never abated. Having passed creditably the Theological Examinations, he was ordained a Deacon by the Lord Bishop of Ripon in September, 1866, and licensed with that view, as supernumerary curate to his father at Slaithwaite; but on the unexpected appointment of the latter to the important and populous Vicarage of Almondbury in February, 1867, he became immediately resident Curate, and entered upon his labours in a truly missionary spirit; exploring the scattered population, especially that around Longley Hall. After four years and a half thus devoted, he was invited by the Rev. Canon Camidge, in 1871, to undertake the Curacy of the Parish Church, Wakefield, where he laboured with much zeal and success, residing, as he had done at Almondbury, in the Vicarage as a son. Here he remained until March, 1874, when he left England by the overland route to Madras, having been appointed by Her Majesty on the nomination of the Duke of Argyle, and the recommendation of several dignitaries, to an office which seemed to give scope to his Missionary desires, whilst it was honourable and important in itself. He occupied himself during the whole of the journey and voyage in distributing Bibles, Testaments, and Tracts in various languages.
Unfortunately he went to India too late in the spring, and encountered immediately the extreme heat of the Southern Peninsula. The Bishop of Madras, with whom he stayed & short time, says in his letter to Canon Hulbert, dated September 14, 1874:― “His devotedness to his Master's service was unmistakeable, and he went to his first charge, Trichinopoly, full of zeal and hope, and laboured there very sedulously and happily.” He cultivated the acquaintance of the Missionaries of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, as well as those of the Church Missionary Society.
He soon acquired sufficient knowledge of the Tamil language to be able to officiate in some measure to the natives, which he did on the interesting occasion of a Communion of Native and other Missionaries. He, however, took cold, which fixed on his lungs and heart ― and the Bishop added:― “But I regret to hear that he has broken down, and that a Committee of Medical men have reported that he must return home immediately on sick leave for two years, ― but with strong apprehensions of danger,” which were eventually realized. He died as above ― happily but suddenly in his mother's arms ― and lies buried in St. George's Churchyard, Ramsgate, with a departed aunt, ― as he died under the roof of her sorrowing sister, Miss Lacy.
The words of Bishop Gell will afford the best comment. “I am deeply grieved that I should have to send you such sorrowful tidings. Yet if we could see all, we should see that they are not really sorrowful. And should we not believe this, though we do not see yet? No harm can befal your son, for he is perfectly safe in the keeping of his Almighty Saviour. Whether he lives or dies, he is the Lord's. I have been writing to him to-day, and telling him that the Saviour has tried him, and found him willing to work and spend himself in His service, and now He is trying him whether he can bear cheerfully the disappointment of all his plans and prospects for the same dear Master's sake.”
The South India Times, of September 18, 1874, says:― “We feel certain that we are but expressing the feeling of the entire community of this station (Trichinopoly) when we wish Mr. Hulbert a speedy recovery, and a return to India to resume his labours among us.” The regret of the people of Slaithwaite, Almondbury, and Wakefield among whom he laboured has been expressed in terms equally deep and sincere. But the Great Master had need of Him, and said “Come up higher.”
JOSEPH HIRST, ESQ., J.P., OF WILSHAW.
This gentleman had only a few days before expressed his “truest sympathy” with the bereaved parents of the subject of the preceding notice when he was himself seized with illness of a somewhat similar character, and with an equally sudden and affecting conclusion. But the merchant-manufacturer, magistrate, and munificent Churchman could not depart without calling forth, not the regret only of Christian friends, but of the whole district in which he lived.
Mr. JOSEPH HIRST had sat on the Magisterial Bench at Huddersfield, on Tuesday the 24th November, for five hours of much excitement without food, until he was quite exhausted, and which doubtless hastened his decease, of heart disease, on the 11th December following, 1874, at his residence, Wilshaw Villa, in the Township of Meltham, near Huddersfield, in the 70th year of his age. The Rev. J.S.C. Spencer, Vicar of Wilshaw, and the Rev. J.W. Aldom, Vicar of Thornton-Hough, Cheshire, where he also had a residence, performed the last solemn rites at his burial, which took place on Wednesday, the 16th, in a vault at St. Mary's Church, Wilshaw. The funeral was intended to be private, but was attended by the great body of the surrounding population, to whom Mr. Hirst was not only an employer, but a father.
Mr. Hirst was much interested by descent and education in the Township of Lingards, in the Chapelry of Slaithwaite, and contributed liberally on several occasions to its School-buildings. But he was the son of Mr. Thomas Hirst, a manufacturer of plain cloth at Greave, near what has now become the hamlet of Wilshaw, and who married Mary, one of the daughters of Mr. William Brook, of Thick Hollins and Meltham Mill, the patriarch of a large and wealthy family. Joseph Hirst was born at Greave, in January, 1805, and followed the clothing business with success. He married about the age of twenty-six, Miss Ramsey, of Chester, an amiable lady, with whom he lived in happy union till the painful bereavement which leaves his widow to mourn his irreparable loss. On the occasion of his marriage his uncle, Jonas Brook, (of the now world-renowned house of Jonas Brook and Brothers, Meltham Mills), presented him as a “wedding gift” with the plot of land on which he erected the original Wilshaw Villa; and as Mr. Hirst was able on the death of his uncle to purchase the whole of the Wilshaw estate, from this present has grown up the flourishing manufacturing establishment and village at Wilshaw, with its Church, Parsonage, and Schools, all erected and endowed at the expense of the owner. He had acquired great wealth in consequence of the acknowledged, indeed proverbial, excellence of his manufacture, entirely pure wool, no adulteration being permitted, and by the equally proverbial uprightness of all his business transactions. His only child, Mary, the wife of Alfred Beaumont, Esquire, died suddenly soon after her confinement with her babe, June 9th, 1859, aged 27 years. This was the great affliction of his life. He gave a new pulpit to Meltham Church, and afterwards built St. Mary's Church, Wilshaw, as memorials of her. He also purchased an estate at Thornton Hough, in Cheshire, where he also erected a more costly Church and Schools ― and all were liberally supported by his personal influence and means. Being bereft of the prospect of descendants, he devoted a large portion of his increasing wealth to Christian and benevolent objects; his contributions to which cannot have been less than £50,000. He contributed £350 to the Restoration of the ancient mother Church of Almondbury, besides furnishing cushions and mats for the seats, on condition that they were all to be free and unappropriated for ever, and that a notice significant of that fact should be publicly exhibited. He contributed munificently to the erection or restoration of many Churches in the Rural Deanery of Huddersfield, always on the same conditions ― and to various other objects, to which as a Christian, a Churchman, and a Conservative citizen he was attached. He was a man of much personal kindness and courtesy, with great plainness of speech and straightforward conduct, based on sound piety, ― and now “he rests from his labours, and his works do follow him.”
When this work was preparing for the press, Mr. Hirst was solicited to allow it to be dedicated to him, to which he kindly gave consent. In consequence of unavoidable delay in publication, it now becomes our mournful and painful duty, while giving that dedication, to regret his decease, and thus express the painful void which his death has occasioned over a large district where his valuable and benevolent influence has long been felt.
We are happy to learn that the Funeral Sermon Preached at Wilshaw by the Rev. J.S.C. Spencer, is in the press, with a Memoir attached.
Page xv (note). ― For suggestions read suggestion. ― John Wordsworth, of Swaithe Hall, was the eldest son of Ralph Wordsworth, of Water Hall.
At page 16, Nevember 23rd, 1689, of the Diary, mention is made of a “licensed” place, at Lydgate, for Religious Worship. This was at the house of John Armitage, (ancestor of Sir Elkanah Armitage, of Manchester, Knt.) which had been used for public or private meetings from 1662 to 1694, when the first Presbyterian Chapel was erected, and was opened for public worship in 1695. On that occasion the Rev. Oliver Heywood, who had been ejected by the Act of Uniformity, in 1662, was called upon to preach. After Mr. Heywood's ejectment he often preached to the congregation at Lydgate, which he had been very instrumental in gathering. The circumstance he has recorded in his Diary ― “March 28th, 1695, I rode to John Armitage's, preached in their New Meeting House, the first sermon, on Exodus xxiv., 1, 2, a dedication of it; there was a full assembly; then administered the Lord's supper to about forty.”
Page 21 ― The right of patronage to the, Church of Penistone. ― At the death of the Rev. Henry Swift, vicar of Penistone, in 1689, it seems not to have been known where the right of presentation rested. It therefore lapsed, and the Crown presented. The next vacancy occurred in 1717, when three gentlemen, viz., Sir George Savile, Bart., Lionel Copley, Esq., and William Bosvile, of Gunthwaite, Esq., each claimed the patronage, and presented clerks to the Archbishop. An inquest was held on March 5th, 1717, in the church of Wakefield, when after examination of witnesses, it was decided in favour of Bosvile's nomination. ― See Hunter's South York's, Vol. II, pp 337-8.
Page 41, July 27th, 1691. ― Madame Ramsden, of Longley, was buried at Almondbury. She was the mother of the first baronet of that surname, of Byram and Longley Hall.
Page 72. ― For Henry VIII, read Edward VI.