Thomas Sayers

1847-1897

By Geoff Dickinson

Transcription of Obituary In the Primitive Methodist Magazine by Danzy Sheen 

THOMAS SAYERS was born in 1847, near Llandudno, North Wales; converted to God, January, 1870, at Messingham, in Scotter Circuit, and departed this life on Thursday, June 10, 1897, leaving as host of sorrowing friends in Sheffield and district.

Having been bereaved of his mother at the tender age of three years, it is easy to understand that his childhood was not all sunshine.

On my removal to Sheffield to take the superintendency of John Street Circuit in 1894, I found that Brother Sayers had lived among our official brethren so long and so well, that he was respected by all. Our Quarterly Meetings and Circuit Committees were usually large gatherings of men, for the most part thoughtful and well-informed. Brother Sayers might have aptly described his standing among these in the words of the ancient patriarch: “Unto me men gave ear, and waited, and kept silence at my counsel.” He had been a local preacher, but on account of a throat affection he was unable to preach, and therefore determined to have his name removed from the plan. He had been a faithful and successful Sunday School worker and superintendent of John Street Sunday School, I think for several terms, and for one year during my time. I remember well how at the year’s end he expressed the sense of relief he experienced when the load of responsibility was removed from his shoulders. When the new building project at Heeley took shape in the first year of my Sheffield ministry, he was unanimously asked to be treasurer, for he was regarded as a representative of the circuit, in an enterprise that involved a liability that the Heeley Society could not have carried without the circuit’s co-operation. The whole block of property, including church, schools and houses, in value above £8,000, is a fine monument of the circuit’s enterprise, and the trustees will never forget the valuable help of Thomas Sayers, their first treasurer. He put conscience and heart into whatever he took in hand, and his judgment in business matters generally was as sound as his heart was kind, which is saying much. His home was so close to our John Street Chapel that during his last illness we were afraid our singing on Whit-Sunday, 1897, might add to his sufferings, as he was then near the river, and I asked our friends to sing softly. But he sent word that there was no need, as he enjoyed it. On the Monday morning the Sunday scholars gathered, as usual, at the top of John Street before going to sing in Norfolk Park. We tried the experiment of singing gently one  verse, and being informed that he was in no way pained, but rather blessed thereby, the singing was prolonged.

lt was the writer’s painful duty, amid a great throng of sorrowing friends, to commit his mortal dust to its final resting-place, and to preach his funeral sermon on the last occasion that he occupied John Street pulpit as superintendent minister of the circuit. Among the papers his dear widow found, after decease, was one that recorded his dedication of himself to God about six years before his removal to the home of his Saviour, in the following words:—

“August 11, 1891. In the name  Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, I, Thomas Sayers, pledge myself before heaven and earth, to consecrate my life afresh to God, and by the assistance of Jesus Christ, to lead a pure and holy life, and may heaven help me to keep this vow until my life shall end, for Christ’s sake. Amen.
“(Signed) THOMAS SAYERS.”

This consecration was the secret of his quiet, persistent, and wisely-directed efforts for God. When he saw the Kent Road Mission in need of his help, he freely gave it as superintendent of the Sunday School. Among his favourite hymns that he asked might be sung to him in his last illness were, “Jesus, Lover of my soul,” (sung by his dear son Willie), “Lead, kindly light,” “My rest is in heaven,” and “Onward, Christian soldiers.”

Space would fail us to quote the sayings respecting him contained in letters from Revs. J. Gair, B. Fell, T. Dickinson, P. Peacock, J.T. Gladwin, J. Slater, (on behalf of District Committee), and many more. The Heeley new church trustees by resolution declared that during “The last three years he had been to them a guide, counsellor, and friend, and that they had greatly benefited by his far-sightedness- and sound judgment.” The adjourned Quarterly Meeting of the circuit unanimously resolved to “place on record its loss by his removal, and tendered to Mrs. Sayers and family sincere sympathy, assuring her and them of the high esteem in which he was held as a member and worker in the Church and circuit.”

Thank God for such men. They are “the chariot of our Israel, and the horsemen thereof.” The Lord deal kindly with his dear partner and beloved children! May they and we tread in his footsteps “until the day break and the shadows flee away.”

Family

Thomas was born at Llandegai, Caernarvonshire. His father was John, a grocer.

Thomas was a tailor.

He married Sarah Catherine Boult (1852-1929) on 10 June 1875 at Messingham, Lincolnshire. Census returns identify four of five children.

  • Mary Catherine (abt1878-1946) - an assurance clerk (1911)
  • Elizabeth Agnes (1879-1971) - married James Robinson Wells, an assurance superintendent (1911), in 1906
  • William Wilkinson (1881-1953) -a woollen merchant’s assistant (1911); a telephonist (1946)
  • Theresa Annie (abt1885-1961) – married John Northeast, a life assurance superintendent (1911), in 1911

References

Primitive Methodist Magazine 1901/149

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

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