Diary of Rev Edward Stevens

1879, November 13, Thursday 

Received a letter this morning from Mr Kirkland to the effect that as his son appeared unable to do any work and the Doctor at Dundee thought he had better not study till he got better in health – he wished him to return home in a day or two. But Kirkland could not wait and therefore left this afternoon.

Cutting from Banbury Guardian, Nov 13 1879, pasted into diary.


THE LATE PARISH CLERK.—A very suitable and well-worded tomb-stone has just been erected in the pretty churchyard of Sibford Gower, to the memory of the late parish clerk. The cost was defrayed by the contributions of present and former inhabitants and Vicars. The inscription on the stone is as follows :-” Erected as a token of public respect to the memory of James Barnes, for 25 years clerk of this parish. Born March 30th, 1809. Died September 1, 1878. “I am the Resurrection and the Life, saith the Lord.”

LENDING LIBRARY.—We are glad to find that this useful institution is still flourishing, for at a committee meeting which was held in the schoolroom on Thursday last and fully attended, the treasurer, Mr. John Enock, reported that there was a balance of £9 1s. 6d. in hand after payment of all expenses, arising entirely from subscriptions of members. It was resolved to hold the annual tea-meeting on Wednesday next, and the President, the Rev. Edward T. Stevens, was requested to purchase five pounds’ worth of new books for the library, to be produced, if possible on that occasion. It was also resolved to print a catalogue for the use of the members, to be supplied to them at twopence per copy. The library now contains about 500 volumes.

SIBFORD GOWER HARVEST THANKSGIVING SERVICES were held at the Parish Church on the 2nd instant, commencing with an early celebration of the Holy Communion at 8 a.m. A second celebration took place after the usual morning service, when the sermon was preached by the Rev. E. T. Stevens, Vicar. The preacher in the afternoon was the Rev. Thomas Smith, Vicar of Brailes. The church was beautifully decorated by Miss Stevens, the Misses Dix, Miss Shelswell, Miss Mawle, and the Misses Rymell, many other parishioners kindly supplying corn, fruit, and flowers for the occasion. The collection amounted to £4 16s. 4d., a sum of 4s. was afterwards sent to the vicarage by one who was not able to be present at the services. The whole amount, together with any further sums that may be received for the purpose, will, as usual here, be divided between the infirmaries of the neighbourhood, namely, the Horton, at Banbury, and the Radcliffe, at Oxford.


The annual meeting of the Sibford Temperance Society was held at the Friends’ Meeting House on Friday evening.

Our much-respected president, Mr. Richard Routh, officiated as chairman, and commenced the meeting in the usual manner by reading a portion of Scripture, then a hymn was song, after which our secretary, Richard H. Lamb, jun., read the report of the Committee for the past year, which we give at full length below.

The treasurer’s report showed a balance in favour of the Society of £1 1s. 1d., which was thought quite satisfactory.

The Officers and most of the Committee were then re-appointed to act for the ensuing year, and the meeting closed with a hymn sung very nicely by the girls and their teachers from the Friends’ School, whose company on these occasions adds much to the interest of our meetings.

Although there have been things to discourage us during the past year, yet we cannot look around on those who attend our monthly gatherings without feelings of thankfulness that so many of those to whom drink has been a snare are still firm in the cause, and are doing their best by example and precept to draw others from the bondage of drink, under which they are labouring, to the cause of total abstinence, which is, we believe, a favoured stepping-stone to Grace. May we all be enabled to press forward in the work, looking to Jesus, and then, we believe, the work will not be allowed to flag, but that it will increase to the Glory of God and to the strengthening of the Kingdom of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, upon the earth.


“In presenting the following report your Committee would observe with much pleasure that to them there appears to be cause for congratulation, because that in most respects this first year of its existence has proved itself to be one of success. Would that we could say of unmixed success. But the statistics will show that though there may have been some falling off, yet, that it has not been so much as might be expected considering the surroundings of many of our members and the temptations to which some of them have been exposed. Your Committee would therefore urge upon every member the necessity of continuing the battle, remembering that we are fighting in a noble cause, and one which must ultimately prevail, and they feel that what they now write may be handed down to posterity, to generations that are yet to come, who will read with pleasure of the efforts of their ancestry to free their country from the snares of drink.

“Looking back fifty years it is very probable that there was not a single total abstainer in the three villages, now we may say they are counted by fifties. What will it be fifty years hence? Will the present generation hold their ground, and teach their children to hold it too? Or will they fall away? We trust not, but we hope that half a century more and drink shops with their allurements will no longer exist.

“Once more casting our glance backward we find fifteen months since, anything like a Society that now was not even thought of by the most sanguine amongst us, and, until Mr. Ker gave his most welcome temperance sermon, a Society was not contemplated. That sermon was not only the means of stirring up old abstainers but of adding others to the temperance ranks. The Society is under the deepest obligation to Mr. Ker for his service to them in many respects. Seeing, then, that a stir had been made in the matter, a few of the most earnest met to consider what further could be done, and they decided to call in the aid of Miss Craigen, who was lecturing in the neighbourhood; she accordingly came and delivered an address in the Wesleyan Chapel, which was kindly lent for the purpose, which had we may truly say a practical result, thirty afterwards signing the pledge.

“A short time elapsed, one after another joined us, and then it was agreed to hold a Temperance Tea Meeting in the village schoolroom. Leave was kindly given by Mr. Stevens, and about 180 partook of the tea. After the tables were cleared, Mr. Baylis, and two other gentlemen from Banbury, addressed the meeting, ten afterwards taking the pledge.

“The time seemed now to be come to organise a Temperance Society, so on the First Friday in November, 1878, a meeting was called, at which a President and Vice-President were appointed, officers elected to undertake the cash-keeping and writing, and a Committee to see to the general business of the society. Meetings were appointed to be held every month, payments to be made every quarter, and several other matters attended to.

“During this period a Band of Hope was being busily set on foot, which seemed likely to be crowned with success, fifty promising to join. A plain tea was given them out of the proceeds of the Temperance Tea.

“Our meetings have been times of pleasure and amusement and we hope of encouragement and instruction. Short speeches have been made in earnest and appealing language, pieces recited with energy and vigour, and readings which showed the ability and wise selection of the chooser.

” A petition to Parliament to close the public-houses on Sundays was taken round these villages, and a large proportion of the inhabitants set their seal against the sale of intoxicating liquors on the Sabbath day. A private address was also sent to the Innkeepers, asking them, if possible, to close their houses on the Sunday, which, although it did not apparently have any immediate result, we cannot help thinking was kindly received, and, we hope, thoughtfully considered.

“Some among us began to turn our attention to villages outside our own, to see if anything could be done to . stimulate them in the same direction. There seeming to be an open door at Epwell, we stepped in and held a meeting in the Primitive Methodist Chapel. There was a good attendance, and a satisfactory meeting was held, seventeen afterwards signing the pledge. Two or three other meetings have been held there since, which have been interesting occasions, well repaying the efforts of those who took an active part in the proceedings, and now there is a strong body of abstainers there.

“Shutford was the next place under consideration, but the Committee thinking that the old proverb, “More haste less speed,” was still true, thought proper to discourage anything being done there last winter, so nothing was undertaken by the Society.

“The Banbury Temperance Hall’s coffee cart was brought over here on the club day, at the request of the society, but owing to the very wet afternoon, little coffee or tea was sold, and the manager returned rather disappointed.

“A tea was given to the Band of Hope children in the Friends’ Meeting House, on the 11th of June, a large number were present, and afterwards the company repaired to a field, kindly lent by Mr. Hancox, and played games—football, drop-handkerchief, cricket, running, &c., and, altogether a most enjoyable evening was spent. A short meeting was held at the close, Thomson Sharp, of Ettington, addressing us, and we parted under the feeling that ‘ water is the cup that cheers. ‘

“Band of Hope meetings have been held every month, with the exception of one or two during the summer, and they have, if possible, been more interesting than the temperance meetings, the children taking part with real pleasure in the singing, reading, and reciting, and they have amply repaid those who have been under most care in attending them.

“Nor does this little society exert its influence for good in Sibford and the neighbourhood only, in a letter lately received from Australia we understood that one of our number, who sailed for that land in the latter part of last year, has been the means, in the Lord’s hand, of causing two of the young men who went with him from this village to see the danger of their state, and they have placed their hand and we trust their heart to the temperance pledge; may they, by God’s help, be enabled to keep it, is the fervent desire we believe of not a few of our number.

“Your Committee have held meetings from time to time, when considered necessary, and have arranged for and carried out, that which appeared needful; they feel that the thanks of the society are due to the Friends of Sibford for the use of their Meeting House; also to the President of the Society for attending so regularly and striving to keep up the interest in the meetings.

“In comparing the present condition of the Society with its commencement, we find that we have 73 in the senior and 85 in the juvenile association, compared with 49 and 50 respectively at the commencement. Although 60 have signed and broken again, we would not have our members feel at all disheartened, but encourage them to fresh perseverance and energy, and during the coming winter throw themselves into the work with a will, “for where there’s a way,” leaning on Christ’s arm for strength, for “He is willing to aid you, He will carry you through.” Your Committee feel that there may be dark days in store for this little Society, but “Fight manfully onward, dark passions subdue, look ever to Jesus, He’ll carry you through,” for beyond the gloom there will shine a brighter day. We do believe that the time is not far distant when England will see her folly in this respect, and in a good degree strive to rectify it.

“And now, in conclusion, we would humbly crave the Divine Blessing on Our labours in the future, as it has, we believe, rested on us in the past, to cheer us in times of trouble and humble us in success, teaching us that without heavenly guidance our efforts will be of no avail; therefore leaving the ordering of all things to Almighty God, we wish the Society prosperity for another year.

“Signed, on behalf of the Committee,
“RICHARD H. LAMB, Jun., Secretary.”

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Read about the Rev Edward Stevens here.