Rev George Bolderston (1853-1911)

Robert Proudlove, Kirkwall, July 2020

Family and Early life

George Bolderston was born on 26/4/1853 at Woolstanwood, near Crewe, in Cheshire. He was the fifth child of John, who was farming Marshfield Bank Farm, and his wife Ann (formerly Wilkinson). The couple had at least 11 children, including Elizabeth, (my great great grandmother) the second of the sibship. John had joined the Wesleyan Methodists as a result of hearing a sermon in Nantwich Wesleyan Chapel from Rev Thomas Stokoe[i].It was said that “From that day his religious life became a powerful reality”[ii] and he was subsequently a Methodist class leader for 25 years. Preaching and class meetings took place at the farm until a chapel was built in 1870.[iii] George`s father also served for many years as a Poor law Guardian and Chairman of the Nantwich Highways Board, and as a business man “… his reputation was unstained, and his reputation deservedly high.” [iv] in relation to his  upbringing,George`s obituary states , “ His early conversion to God was the result of the godly training of his Methodist home”

Training and Ministry

As a youngster, George engaged in Sunday School work and took up lay preaching at the age of 18. In 1874 he was accepted as a candidate for the ministry and was sent to Glasgow, before training for two years at Didsbury College during the time that William Burt Pope (a notable Wesleyan Theologian) was Theological Tutor. Hs first ministerial appointment was to Helston, at the tip of Cornwall in 1877, with subsequent service including St Austell (1878), Dartmouth (1881), St Columb (1882), and Gwennap (1884). In 1909 he became Superintendant Minister in the South Molton circuit in Devon where he was the first occupant of Wesley House, the new manse. That family home was shared with his wife, Sarah Mary, (b1861). The couple had a son, W…, and two daughters, O… and G…

Death and Burial

Though only 57 years old, in the early months of 1911, George had apparently not been in robust health, but then, unexpectantly and suddenly, he was taken ill while conducting a service at Brayford Chapel on 7th March. Despite medical care, he grew weaker and died on the morning of 22nd March.[v] The funeral service was attended by a large number of people, and included several local ministers including the local vicar and the Baptist pastor. Besides his widow and children, family members present were a brother from Felixstowe, and Rev J N and Mrs Broad.[vi] Wreaths included tributes from both Men’s and Women’s Bible Classes which perhaps points to George`s ministerial priorities. Interment was at South Molton cemetery. (His widow would subsequently be laid to rest in the same plot.) [vii]

George Bolderston the Man

What sort of person was George? An obituary read: “In all his circuits he left a record of faithful service. Modest and retiring in disposition, he possessed a cultivated mind and a warm and loving heart. His preaching was thoroughly evangelical and accompanied by a quiet fervour that betokened a life in close fellowship with Christ. He was a devoted pastor, a wise and capable administrator, endearing himself by his courtesy and sympathy to the people amongst whom he laboured”[viii] another stated :”He was of a kindly but retiring disposition, and was esteemed most by those who knew him best”[ix] A tribute subsequently placed in the South Molton Chapel remains to this day, ( see above) and includes the scriptural quote , “The memory of the just is blessed”.

[i] Thomas Stokoe, minister at Nantwich 1840-43

[ii] From Nantwich Guardian 2/3/1872

[iii] The chapel, in Coppenhall Lane, closed in 1969, but the building remains following its conversion to a private dwelling

[iv] As ii above

[v] From North Devon Journal 23/3/1911

[vi] A fellow Wesleyan minister who trained at Didsbury and entered ministry in the same year as George. Was he related to Mrs Bolderston?

[vii] I visited the cemetery but the grave locus is grassed over and I could find no trace of a headstone

[viii] From the minutes of the Wesleyan Conference 1911

[ix] North Devon Journal 23/3/1911

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