Howdenshire History

Methodist lay preacher & antiquarian: George West of Swinefleet

Goole History > Goole People & Families > George West


From the Goole Weekly Times, Friday, January 13th 1893:



Pulpit References
The Funeral Service and Panegyrics

We record, with great regret, the death of Mr George West of The Field, Swinefleet, which took place at his residence last Friday morning at half-past nine. The deceased gentleman was apparently in his usual state of health on the previous Sunday, and on New Year's Eve conducted the watch-night service at the Wesleyan Chapel at Swinefleet. On Sunday afternoon he led a love-feast at Swinefleet, and in the evening preached at Reedness. It will be remembered that much snow fell on that day and the weather was very severe. Mr West appears to have caught a chill, and on the Monday morning Dr Blair of Goole was called in, but notwithstanding the unremitting attention bestowed by this gentleman upon his patient, Mr West succumbed as above stated, the cause of death being congestion of the lungs.

The deceased gentleman was the son of Mr Robert West, shoemaker, of Swinefleet, and was born in that village on the 24th Sept., 1828. He was, therefore, in his 65th year. He received an admirable training from his parents, who were very highly respected. His parents attended the Wesleyan Chapel and their son had been a consistent member of the Wesleyan Methodist Society for more than half a century. There are but two who were older members in the Society who survive him, namely Mrs Thompson and Mrs Margaret Burkill. Mr West's death will be an irreparable loss to local Methodism, in which cause he was a most indefatigable and successful worker. He had held at various times every position of trust and responsibility in the circuit open to laymen, and was a local preacher of far more than average ability, and at one time frequently occupied the pulpit of other chapels than those for which he was planned.

In the year 1851 he married Miss Mary Ann Taylor of Swinefleet, who now survives him. There was no issue of the marriage. In the year 1850 he was appointed a class leader, and for over forty years had been the leader of the Tuesday night class. His first sermon was preached at Reedness in 1860, from the text "This man receiveth sinners," and by a strange coincidence his last sermon was also preached in the same place of worship, his text on this occasion being "For ye have not gone this way before" (Joshua iii., 4.). In 1857, on the death of Mr W. Lavarack, Mr West was appointed chapel steward at Swinefleet. There was then a debt of £750 upon the chapel and schools. He succeeded, however, not only in getting this debt extinguished but in having the chapel rebuilt at a cost of upwards of £900, and at the present time there remains only a debt of a little more than £100. Few villages of the same size as Swinefleet have such a fine chapel, and his devoted work in this direction is not likely to be forgotten.

The deceased gentleman was also the secretary of all the chapels in the circuit and had all the financial matters relating thereto to attend to. He had also been circuit steward two or three times, and was chosen as district representative to conferences and district meetings on several occasions. Mr West had not latterly taken much active part in general public matters, but he was at one time a member and vice-chairman of the Swinefleet School Board, a guardian for Swinefleet, one of the feoffees of the local charities, and held several other minor offices.

He succeeded to the business of his father, but retired from business some fifteen years ago. From childhood he was a great reader and very fond of books, and was a man of considerable literary ability. He was also an antiquarian of acknowledged authority, and a member of the Yorkshire Antiquarian Society. He had in the course of a lifetime collected an admirable library, one of the very best in the district. For twenty years he was a contributor to the Goole Weekly Times under the nom-de-plume of "William de Swinflete," the name of a literary monk who sprang from Swinefleet in early times. It was to his kindness that the editor of this journal was indebted for the original of the first copy of the Goole Times which we issued as a supplement last Friday - the day of his death. Mr West also contributed to the Methodist journals and to Notes and Queries. He was the author of "Methodism in Marshland," and of a pamphlet dealing with Marshland families in olden times, being a reprint of a lecture delivered at the Wesleyan school-room at Goole.

He had a severe attack of influenza some two years ago, from which he never thoroughly recovered, and no doubt this accounted largely for the speedy termination of his fatal illness. He was a most hospitable as well as a most cultured gentleman, and had led a blameless and irreproachable life, and as befitting such a life, passed away most peacefully. The sad occasion has called forth expressions of sorrow and of sympathy with his widow on every side, in which we sincerely join.



The Interment at Swinefleet
Impressive Ceremony

The remains of the late Mr George West, of The Field, Swinefleet, were interred on Tuesday afternoon in the parish churchyard at Swinefleet amid tokens of profoundest respect and sympathy. The fact that the deceased gentleman had long been intimately connected with Wesleyan Methodism in the district, and that he was also known for sterling abilities, naturally excited considerable sorrowful interest in the proceedings. Large numbers of people travelled from the surrounding districts to take part in the last earthly rite to be administered and many gentlemen at Goole associated with Wesleyan Methodism attended to show their respects. It was arranged that a memorial service should be held in the Swinefleet Wesleyan Chapel at 2.30 in the afternoon, but long before this time many people had assembled in Low Street, while others had taken up a position in the sacred edifice. The pulpit was deeply draped in black and the Communion table was hidden by a black cover.


The cortège left the residence of the deceased gentleman shortly after half past two, and on its arrival at the chapel the place was filled by all sections of people. As the coffin was born into the building on the shoulders of a number of stalwart men, the impressive music of "The Vital Spark" was played on the organ by Miss Thornton. The coffin was placed on the Communion table at the front of the pulpit, and on top of it was laid a beautiful wreath which had been sent by Mr and Mrs Gledhill, of Snaith. When the bereaved widow and the relatives and friends had taken up their positions in the chapel, the Rev. J. M. Browne and the Rev. A. H. Hopper ascended the pulpit for the purpose of conducting the service [etc.].

The congregation then joined in singing "Oh God our help in ages past, our hope in years to come," and then the corpse was carried from the chapel, and in the course of its exit Miss Thornton played the "Dead March" in Saul. A very large concourse of people had assembled in Low Street to witness the progress of the procession to the church, and on every hand there were signs of mourning. The cortège was headed by the Vicar (the Rev. W. F. DeCobain), the Rev. J. M. Browne, and the Rev. A. H. Hopper, and then followed a number of local preachers and officials in the circuit. Then came the hearse with carriage attached, the latter containing Mrs West (the widow), Mr T. L. Taylor, Mr Ella Taylor and Mr Taylor and family. Following immediately behind the hearse was Mr J. A. Barratt, of Snaith (a life-long friend of the deceased), and Mrs Gledhill, and a number of females and males who were members of the late Mr West's class.



Among those present at the funeral we noticed the Rev. F. J. Morgan (Primitive Methodist minister, Swinefleet), the Rev. J. Graham (Primitive Methodist minister, Goole), Dr Blair (Goole), Dr Gunn (Swinefleet), Mr S. Peet (Leeds), Colonel Thompson, Mr W. Smith (Potter Grange, Goole); Mr H. Hobson, Mr R. Andrew, Mr Lillyman, Mr G. Dunn, Mr G. Denby, and Mr Dennis Pepper, feoffees of Swinefleet [...] which Mr West had for many years been a member; Mr A. Lamb, Mr R. Dodd, Mr E. W. Greenwood, Mr G. W. Townend, Mr J. W. Bentley, Mr A. Blyth, Mr P. Rowe, Mr F. Chambers, Mr B. W. Roulston, Mr W. Armitage, Mr J. Armitage, Mr I. Jackson, Mr W. Thomson, Mr R. Haldenby, Mr Hodgson, Mr T. C. Turton, Mr T. Hasselby, Mr W. Methley, Mr G. Thornton, Mr L. Holmes, Mr Shearsmith, Mr S. Poole, Mr T. Settle, Mr Watson Cowling, Mr T. Wild, Mr G. Brewins, Mr G. Wild, Mr Pindar, Mr F. Kay, Mr T. Mell, Mr N. Mell, Mr Cowling, Mr H. Wilson, Mr Butterwick, Mr T. Fielder, &c.

The corpse was conveyed into the Parish Church, where a short service was conducted by the Vicar, which was choral and of a most interesting character. As the company left the church the "Dead March" in Saul was played on the harmonium by Mrs DeCobain, the wife of the Vicar. The remains of the deceased gentleman were then conveyed to the rear of the church where the grave had been prepared. The large number assembled listened with painful silence to the solemn ceremony, which was conducted by the Vicar, and the Rev. J. M. Browne and the Rev. A. H. Hopper. Many were the expressions of sorrow by those present, and it was felt that on retiring from God's Acre that a dearly loved friend was being left behind. A wreath was deposited on the coffin by Mrs Fish, of Swinefleet. The funeral arrangements were in the hands of Mr T. Wombell, undertaker, of Swinefleet, who conducted them orderly and with decorum. We are asked to state that on Sunday morning, the Rev. W. F. Decobain, the Vicar, will make reference to the demise of Mr West, and in the evening at the Wesleyan Chapel a memorial service will be held, which will be conducted by Mr J.A. Barratt, of Snaith.



Another article, from the Publishers' Circular, January 1893

We regret to record the death, on the 6th inst. at his residence at Swinefleet near Goole, of Mr George West, from congestion of the lungs. Mr West was an industrious antiquarian, and had for many years been engaged in topographical researches, as opportunity offered, at the British Museum and elsewhere, with a view of publishing a history of that district of Yorkshire mentioned by Camden* as "Ditch-marshe and Marshland, little Mersh Countries, or River Islands rather," and situated on the bank of the river Ouse at the south-eastern boundary of the great county. His "Methodism in Marshland" (Wesleyan Conference Office), which was published in 1886, was an interesting account of the rise and growth of Wesleyanism in a district frequently visited by John Wesley, being close to the great reformer's birthplace (Epworth).


Mr West was a frequent contributor to the Yorkshire press under the nom de plume of "Wm de Swinflete," he having for literary purposes adopted the name of a monk of mediaeval times who sprang from that village. He passed through almost every office his neighbours could bestow upon him, in his capacity as a ratepayer (though far from being a wealthy man) or a member of the Wesleyan body, in the ranks of which he was known as an earnest, able local preacher. He was formerly a shoemaker by trade, and, though not rising to world-wide fame, yet fully deserves to be numbered amongst the celebrated members of that trade who have by their own industry, self-denial, and abilities thrown lustre on this occupation. Mr West was in his 65th year.

*William Camden (1551 - 1623): antiquary and historian, author of 'Britannica', the first comprehensive topographical survey of England [See D.N.B.].

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