George Mortimer Morgan

1830-1900

By Geoff Dickinson

Transcription of Obituary In the Primitive Methodist Magazine by Jos. Ferguson

Mr. George Mortimer Morgan has gone to God. He began life near Cirencester in 1830. His parents were respectable, and were allied to the Congregational Church of that ancient town, once surrounded by walls. He was one of a large family, and, in addition, suffered disadvantage from the crude and unjust notions of men who assumed they were born to rule. His early education was limited, but by the diligent use of books he laid up a store of intelligence against the time to come. It was in the Bible-class of his father’s church that he was intellectually quickened, and gained a sight of the mentally widening view. In the early days of life he breathed the air of family affection, and the religious side of his nature was not neglected. In comparative youth he heard the voice of Free Grace from the lips of Primitive Methodist missionaries, and at the age of nearly sixteen joined our Church. With his nature and warm temperament he soon made known the change the Lord had wrought within him. No bushel hid his light - it shone for the guidance of others. The new joy within him became strength and was converted into zealous deeds for the reclamation of his fellow villagers. The   celestial metal, however, was soon tested by temptation and bitter persecution, but being well clad in the whole armour of God, he was “able to stand against all the wiles of the devil, and having done all to stand.”

His love to Christ was not a fancy fed by mixed emotion, but a living fact, a heart-flame which shone more and more, until suffering for Christ became his joy and glory. Our church, then organically young, with many needs, soon observed our brother’s gifts and graces, and so In seven months from his spiritual birth gave him authority to preach the Word - which Word he preached with intelligence and power for more than fifty-four years. What a record! Providentially, as we opine, while the dew of young manhood lingered upon him (1854), he came to West Bromwich, and earnestly entered into business as a grocer. Here his health improved, and his accustomed zeal soon flamed out, and souls were won to God. He was not a stranger to the struggles and anxieties arising from dishonesty of customers and the severity of competition, yet he murmured not, but with a brave and hopeful heart, and a shining face that spoke of inward joy, the source of which lay beyond the visible, he toiled to success. By industry and habitual courtesy he soon found the rungs of his ladder, up which he climbed slowly but surely till the day of competency and well-deserved rest arrived. His Sabbath work was his delight, and a needed change; it was a salutary, active rest. His business taxations did not shut the door of God ’s House from Sunday to Sunday. He loved the Sanctuary – the habitation of God - and our Brother’s voice was heard in class-meeting, prayer-meeting, and in week-night preaching services. He found time to serve God by serving the Church. In these early days the late Rev. J.B. Knapp left his home and came to the West Bromwich Circuit. His home was with his life-long friend Mr. Morgan. This was a mutual advantage. To the former it was a home that made him feel less the loss of his own, to the latter, it was the incoming not of God’s Ark, but of God’s servant. These souls akin were soon linked, until they appeared like Basil and Nazianzen to have but one soul – they were friends till death. And now this friendship is immortal. The ministry of Brother Morgan was universally acceptable among those who knew the life divine. People flocked to see his happy face, and still more to hear his burning words. The writer remembers those days with gratitude, and those earnest addresses and fervent prayers live over again. This was in the days not of ministerial ambitions, however holy, but of daily toil and happy hope. Brother Morgan was the visible ideal of young Circuit aspirants, who never looked beyond the plan and the limited sphere of Circuit labour. It was about this time, that one Sunday evening when he was preaching at The Lyng, West Bromwich, a strange gentleman, who was prejudiced against our people, entered the church, and was deeply impressed under the Word. He afterwards wrote a letter to the Birmingham Daily Post, stating how pleasingly he was surprised with the service, and thankful he attended. For a long time after, whenever he saw Mr. Morgan’s name announced by bill for special services, he sent £1 or 10s. as a donation to the fund, and in this way he assisted the different churches and Sunday schools to the amount of £67. When leaving the neighbourhood he sent Mr. Morgan £5 for himself, but did not disclose his name. Mr. Morgan said, in his own style, “I wish I could shoot a bird like that often.”

As an official he did not ignore meetings for business, yet the pulpit, the prayer meeting, and the old-fashioned church class were especially attractive to him. To the good cause he was liberal, but not ostentatious. Widows remember his secret kindness, and the blessing of those ready to perish came upon him. For more than half a century - an “awful period in a man’s life ” - he walked circumspectly, redeeming the time. In married life he early knew the sorrow of a wife’s open grave, and his children one by one were gathered to where they found their mother, some of them leaving behind “little ones” to cast light upon the shadow that was fast falling upon their grandsire. His great sorrow did not embitter him, but like an autumn sunshine helped to ripen him for the harvest, and for the fellowship he now enjoys. His second wife, who for years lessened past loss, went to immortality; still, like a bruised flower, he shed additional fragrance. In 1859 Mr. Morgan removed to Bilston, where he plied his new business to wide extension and increased profit. For years he was Circuit Steward, and till death a class leader. He loved his circuit, and the Church of his early choice. His extensive business did not weaken or loosen its claims. He was a member of the District Committees, was sent by his brethren occasionally to the District Meeting, and three times he sat as our representative in Conference. For twenty-five years he was a member of the Coseley Local Board and Council, and for nearly eighteen years he was a Guardian of the Dudley Union, and was Vice-Chairman. The poor knew him, and loved him, he watched sympathetically their claim and the just interest of the ratepayers. He was a popular Guardian. For three years he sat on the School Board of Sedgley District, opened, at his own cost, a Reading Room for the people, and in many ways sought to promote their mental and moral well-being. His life is recorded in many hearts. In his church he formed a Young Men’s Mission Band, which has done a good work. For years he physically suffered, yet he did not forget the sheep of the fold: “he fed the flock of God.” When unable to attend through ill-health or inclement weather, he must hear from visitor or by letter the character and quality of the class-meeting; the progress of the Church was the increase of his joy. His house was the home of ministers; the elderly ones were his chief friends, and old friendships in his presence were ever renewed. He was not ignorant of politics or of the movements of the wide world, but his constant subjects chiefly touched the march of God in the early days of Christian life and his doings among the United Free Churches of to-day. He loved the Gospel, and the young men who preached it were to him the hope of our churches. We shall not forget his solemn “Amen,” his joyous, “Glory be to God,” and other ejaculations that seemed needful to give ease to his heart. He was humble, docile, Christ-like. He so saw the good in others, that he did not seemingly over-estimate himself. His life was rich in abiding trust in God. He had a good hope and often referred to the time of his departure. His last affliction was long and yet his exodus, at last, seemed sudden. His watchful wife was ever at his side, and with ministries invaluable made soft his pillow, and the exit on April 9, 1900, was, through mercy, as the falling asleep of a tired child. His life, more than his joyful words, are his testimony. He loved Christ as his Saviour, and obeyed Him as his Sovereign Lord. May our end be like his, is the wish of his remaining friend,

Family

George was born in 1830 at Cirencester, Gloucestershire, to parents George and Caroline. George, senior, was a labourer.

Census returns identify the following occupations for George.

  • 1851 grocer’s shopman
  • 1861 grocer
  • 1871 pawnbroker
  • 1881 pawnbroker
  • 1891 living on own income

George married Charlotte Laight (1817-1856) in late 1850 at Circencester, Gloucestershire.

George married Maria Tomkys (1824-1897) in the spring of 1859 in the Wolverhampton Registration District, Staffordshire. Census returns identify four children.

  • Emily Tomkys (1860-1864)
  • Adela Caroline (abt1862-1872)
  • Eva Tomkys  (1864-1891) – married Edwin Warden Harris, a bank cashier (1891), in 1885
  • Mortimer Tomkys (abt1867-1895) – a pawnbroker (1891)

George married Margaret Morgan or Annie Yates in the summer of 1899 in the Wolverhampton Registration District.

References

Primitive Methodist Magazine 1902/390

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

 

 

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