John Smith was a Minster and Missionary for the Primative Methodist Church of England and spent several years in South Africa. He married Fanny Elizabeth Jeary from Martham, Norfolk, England and they had eight children at least five of whom were born in South Africa. The first records obtained of his ministry was in Aliwal North, Cape Province, South Africa although there is strong evidence that he was also in Pietermarzitburg prior to Aliwal North. Methodist Church Records show his first Baptism in Christ Church, at Aliwal North on August 23, 1874. He was there for that stay until April 24, 1879 (last Baptism) when he was replaced by Rev John Watson. He returned to Aliwal North, as evidenced by his first Baptism, on July 1, 1883 and was there until 1888 based on his last baptism in South Africa, on February 26, 1888. He was replaced by Rev George Henry Butt.
During their leave back in England, Stanley Harold Smith was born in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk as was, it appears, Jack Smith, both of whom emigrated to Canada as adults. John Smith had at least one child from his first marriage, a boy John Thomas Smith but his birth or Baptisism does not show up on the Aliwal North Church Records that are available and he may have been born while in Pietermaritzburg, as there is no evidence of his birth in England (although the name makes it difficult to confirm). They had three children while on their first stay in Aliwal North, Lititia Gertrude in 1875 (it's assumed that she died early in life), Edwin William in 1876 (he later return to South Africa and Rhodesia as a Missionary), and Frederick Robertson who returned to England with his parents and Edwin.
During their second stay in Aliwal North they had two other sons, Baldwin Sydney in 1884 and Arnold Morley in 1886.
Christ Church Records record the signatures of John Smith, Fanny Elizabeth Smith, Gertrude Smith (not sure of the relationship) and John Thomas Smith and copies have been made of these microfilm records showing the signatures.
METHODIST CHURCH CONFERENCE - 1915 MINUTES OF CONFERENCE (pages 42-44)
However, he did begin with the priceless things - a healthy and sturdy physique, keen intellectual faculties, a great mental hunger, superb moral qualities, and a flaming passion to be a good minister of Jesus Christ. He owed noting to social and educational advantages. These unmistakeably have their value, and ofttimes lend a vantage, but our friend evidenced what some men can accomblish without their aid.
He was born in the year 1840. He began his ministry in the year 1859. His active ministry embraced 48 years. He was superannuated in the year 1907. And he died on Friday evening, February 12th, 1915. So, briefly, are the stages of his life journey stated. But who is competent to describe those early 19 years in 1 CONC the cotter's homestead, with its depressing poverty, the agricultural drudgery and servitude, and the soul awakening and unfolding amid such repressions and limitations? Who can, even crudely, outline the marvels of those 48 years during which he was an active minister? The great centres of our Denominational life in East Anglia could tell their own story. So could our far-off Aliwell North Mission in Africa tell its own report of wealthy service. So could the high offices and places of our administration and executive geniuses speak the praises of his diligence, painstaking, sagacity, and enthusiasm.
The eighth years of his retirement from the acive ministry were in no sense a period of rest. His services for the Bible Society, in Enfield and Stoke Newington Circuits (both in North London), and in varied parts of our country, as opportunities afforded, prove how little his intellectual powers had deminished, and how much he retained of his capacity for work and his passion for preaching. He was marvellously composite in his build. Few men presented such sharp contrasts. He had the instincts of a peasant and the dignity of a peer, the passion of a student and the sagacity of a statesman, the memories of a ploughboy and the culture of a university, the greatheartedness of the missionary and the concentration of a pastor, the sympathies of a democrat and the spirit of an autocrat. It is not the predominating aspect of any one characteristic which impresses us about our friend as the compination, harmony, and general effectiveness of them all. He was grandly balanced and marshalled, and those who knew him most intimately knew how fiery and yet tender was his heart, how independent and yet considerate, how imperious and yet affectionate, and how unflinching to convictions and yet respectful to others. He was a striking personality, a prince among preachers, a diligent student, a man of vast and varied reading, a strong debater and a wise administrator, a generous Christian and a staunch friend.
Up to the sudden illness which ended his mortal life he was physically vivacious and mentally alert. Busy in his garden, studious among his beloved books, planning and proposing intended work, which some of us suspect means loss unless other hands finish it. He faced death with the same fortitude as he had faced life. At first he wished to live, so that he could still serve. However, when it was obvious that the night was approaching, the simple and hopeful trust of confident souls suported him. Amid thousands of his loved and loving admirers and friends at Yarmouth what was mortal was laid to rest, feeling poorer because he had left them awhile.
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