The Rev. William Smith, Vicar of Stainforth.


On December 30th 1884, after almost twenty of persistence from the elders of the Stainforth community, an order was published announcing that Stainforth was soon to become a parish in it’s own right. The following year, in 1885, the Parish of Stainforth was declared, independent from that of Hatfield.
Prior to this time Divine Services had been held fortnightly in the Chapel of Ease on Field Road.
Reverend William Smith, a native of Stockport and educated in Doncaster, came to Stainforth to serve the community as vicar to the new parish. Before his premature death just eight years later, the Rev. Smith became a much loved and respected figure within the parishes of Stainforth, Thorne and Hatfield.

This report appeared in the Doncaster Chronicle upon the Friday following the untimely death of the Rev. Smith. I thought about re-writing and condensing the article, but after reading it several times I decided to include the whole item in it’s original form.
See also "Notes" at the end of this article.

Death of The Rev. William Smith, Vicar of Stainforth.
(From the Doncaster Chronicle - Friday 26th May 1893)

"We deeply regret to announce the death of the Rev. W. Smith, vicar of Stainforth, which took place on Friday morning, at the early age of 44 years. The rev gentleman’s death was due to blood poisoning caused by eating tinned tongue, and the circumstances are extremely sad and painful. Two months ago Mr. and Mrs. Smith partook of some tinned tongue - one of the best brands it is said - and both became unwell. In Mrs. Smith’s case the poison passed of rapidly, but not so with her husband. In his case the illness took the form acute irritant poisoning, causing extensive and general inflammation of the bowels, and a very deep seated abscess was formed. Dr. Christy Wilson, who had been his medical advisor since his residence in Doncaster eight or ten years ago, was constantly in attendance with the rev. gentleman, and Dr. Jessop of Leeds also saw him with a view to an operation being performed, but he decided it was not permissible. Mr. Smith gradually became weaker and weaker, and all the symptoms of blood poisoning supervened, and after a long and exhausting illness borne with great patience and Christian resignation, the rev. gentleman passed away at six o’clock last Friday morning.
Mr. Smith was a native of Stockport, and was educated at the Doncaster Grammar School, where he was subsequently assistant master under the Rev. W. Gurney. He was very successful at school, and being himself an able and learned scholar, the education of his own children was carried out under his personal supervision with gratifying results, for as was announced in these columns the two eldest sons recently obtained scholarships at Uppingham School.
On resigning his assistant mastership at the Grammar School, Mr. Smith became curate of St. Mary’s, Beverley, which he held for about two years, and was then appointed vicar of Stainforth, where for over eight years he worked quietly and unassumingly but yet earnestly and sincerely for the good of his parishioners.
The village of Stainforth contains a mixed class of the labouring element, differing in many respects from ordinary village life, and the rev. gentleman went in and out among the people, daily growing in their esteem and respect, and being honoured and loved for his unselfish labours and his earnest Christian life and conduct. Soon after he took up his residence there he opened a reading room for the working men and in other ways endeavoured to elevate their tastes and aspirations. His kindness to the poor and his care for the young will long keep his memory green in the parish. He was a faithful, earnest, conscientious pastor, sought to do his duty quietly and without ostentation.
Ten years ago his father bought for him the next presentation to the living of Hartshorne, Burton-on-Trent, to which he was presented in January last, and we understand that he was to have entered into residence on the first of the present month, arrangements having being made before his present illness for the removal of his furniture. Quite recently Mr. Smith’s father died, leaving him considerable wealth, and just at a time when greater opportunities for an enlarged sphere of usefulness were opening out for him, he has been taken away in the very prime of life. The rev. gentleman leaves a widow and seven children, four boys and three girls, who will have the sincere sympathy of a wide circle of friends in their painful bereavement.
Recently when it became known that Mr. Smith was going to leave Stainforth for his new living at Hartshorne, a meeting of parishioners was held and it was resolved to present the rev. gentleman with a suitable mark of esteem. The testimonial took the form of a handsome dolphin inkstand and gong combined with silver mountings, supplied by Messrs. Mappin and Webb, of Sheffield. The presentation was made by Mr. Thompson, and a list of subscribers prepared by Mr. Jenkinson was presented with the testimonial.
The funeral took place on Monday afternoon at half past one o’clock, in Thorne Parish Church yard, when a large number of people from Stainforth, Hatfield, Thorne and district, attended out of respect to the deceased. As the funeral cortege passed along South-Parade and Bridge Street, en-route to the church, the window blinds of houses were drawn down, and the greatest respect shown to the memory of the deceased. On arriving at the church gates quite a crowd had assembled, which joined the procession, and on entering and leaving the church the Dead March was most solemnly played on the organ by Mr. C. W. Darley, and all present devoutly took part in the impressive service, which was conducted by the Rev. G. P. Hoyden, Vicar of Hatfield. The choir sang effectively the 39th Psalm, and the usual Lesson having being read, a special hymn from the Hymnal Companion, "Hush, blessed are the dead," was pathetically rendered, and at the grave the choir also sang the beautiful hymn, "Now the labourer’s task is o’er."
The mourners were Mrs. Smith (widow of the deceased) and her seven children, comprising four sons and three daughters; Mr. George Kenyon, brother of Mrs. Smith, and three of his sisters, the Misses Kenyon; Mr. Brown, of Stockport, cousin of the deceased; Mr. Bell, of Stockport, trustee under the deceased’s late father’s will; Mr. T. Fort, solicitor, Stockport, partner of the deceased’s late father; Mr. Villiers, Hartshorne, Burton-on-Trent; Mr. Ridgeway, Beverley; rev. J. J. Littlewood, Vicar of Thorne; Rev. Cannon Tebbutt, Vicar of Doncaster; Rev T. T. Howell, Rector of Armthorpe; Rev T. E. Lindsay, Vicar of St. Paul’s, Middlesbro’; Rec. C. J. Woodhouse, Curate of St. George’s, Doncaster; Rev. E. Flecker, Vicar of Fishlake; Rev. C. R. J. Loxley, Rector of Jarrow-on-Tyne; Rev. A. A. Hall, Carlisle, and the Rev. J. L. Barnett, York.
The coffin was of polished oak with brass mountings, and upon the breastplate was the inscription:- "William Smith, born 10th January, 1849, died 19th May, 1893."
A number of handsome floral wreaths were placed over the coffin and over the vault. Messrs. Sheard and Binnington, of Doncaster were the undertakers and supplied the carriages, and carried out all the arrangements satisfactorily.
Mr. Smith was well known and much esteemed in Thorne, having being in the habit of exchanging duty with the Rev. J. J. Littlewood, and his death is universally regretted, and the deepest sympathy is felt throughout the town for Mrs. Smith and family in their painfully sad and irreparable loss.
The Rev. J. L. Barnett, on Sunday Morning, preaching on behalf of the Society for the propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, prior to commencing the sermon made special allusion in the most feeling terms to the death of the rev. gentleman, and spoke in the highest possible terms of his eminent piety, and expressed his profound sympathy for the widow and family in their great and sad bereavement, which he felt sure the whole of the congregation would reciprocate."

Having read of the Rev. Smith’s premature demise, my mind insisted upon springing back to the passage which reads thus: "His kindness to the poor and his care for the young will long keep his memory green in the parish.", and I felt saddened that after 110 years all memory of the rev. gentleman’s life and deeds had completely disappeared.

I have been unable to find anything significant which I can add to this page regarding Mr. Smith’s life. Even the memory of his death has been erased through the neglect and vandalism of Thorne’s Church yard.

I wanted to include a photograph of the Rev. W. Smith’s final resting place but the headstone was removed from the grave in 1985, when Thorne Town Council cleared the area after locals complained of the cemetery being an eyesore.


Thorne's St. Nicholas Church
Every headstone was removed as the land was cleared and rubbish removed. Under a community programme called the M.S.C. Scheme, the position and orientation of every grave was recorded, along with the inscriptions of every headstone which remained readable.

Thorne Church Yard
Rev. William Smith's unmarked final resting place is somewhere in the foreground of this photograph.

Today there are very few stones and monuments remaining, and like many others, the grave of the Rev. William Smith is now just a patch of unmarked ground.

Thankfully, through the records now kept in the Thorne Town Council Offices, and through the generous help and advice of the ladies who work there, I was able to find the final resting place of Stainforth’s first vicar.

However, in the council records there is just one small discrepancy regarding the age of Mr. Smith.

Their records state that the inscription upon the tombstone which was removed from the grave said he was 51 at the time of his death, compared to 44 as stated by The Doncaster Chronicle over a century earlier.

The council's record, which lists hundreds of graves from the cemetery, simply states:
William Smith 19 May 1893 age 51
Jane Ann Smith 12 August 1928 age 80

To clarify this discrepancy I consulted the 1891 Census which tells us that the Smith family lived in Stainforth Vicarage at the time the census was taken. William was 42 years old at that time, which corresponds with the Doncaster Chronicle obituary. His wife, Jane Ann was 43 years old at the time of the census, which also gives details of the names and ages of their seven children and tells us that the two youngest were born in Stainforth.




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