The testimonial, which was arranged on a table in the centre of the room, consisted of a very elaborately engraved solid silver dinner service, of the Shrewsbury pattern, and comprising four entree dishes and covers, with movable handles, to form eight dishes, a large soup tureen, two shaped sauce tureens, four beautiful salts (lined with gold), and a silver bread basket.
Upon the soup tureen the following inscription was engraved: "This silver dinner service was presented to the Rev. John Bell, M.A., Vicar of Rothwell, by his parishioners and friends, as a token of the high respect and esteem in which he is held, and of his exemplary conduct and kindness as pastor during a period of 30 years, October 1859, Richard Binney, John Flockton, George Needham, James Dickinson, Isaac Schofield, Joseph Lee, George Appleyard, and Joseph Watkin, churchwardens.
The various articles were also engraved with the arms and crest of Mr. Bell, and a large oak plate chest had been made to contain the whole of them. Along with the testimonial was presented a list of all the subscribers (about 270), written on parchment. The dinner service cost about £300, and was supplied by Mr. H. S. Smith, jeweller, Commercial Street, Leeds, in whose shop window it has been recently exhibited.
After the dinner "Non nobis Domine" was sung by a party of glee singers, and the usual loyal toasts were proposed by the CHAIRMAN, who then gave "The Lord Bishop and Clergy of the Diocese," which was responded to by the Hon. and Rev. P. Y. SAVILE, in an appropriate speech. He remarked that the present Bishop of Ripon had most efficiently performed his duties ever since he was appointed to the office. (Applause.)
While engaged in the multifarious duties which called his attention to distant parts of his diocese, his lordship bad shown himself a good overseer, and he had not overlooked the parish of Rothwell, which was testified by the fact that, since his appointment to the see, the labours of the clergyman at Middleton had received, through his lordship's exertions, treble the remuneration which they previously did. (Applause.)
The right, rev. prelate was not given to change, but to improvement; and he had followed in the footsteps of his amiable and worthy predecessor. (Applause.) He still continued to hold confirmations in the splendid church of Rothwell, to which he (Mr. Savile) had for many years been accustomed to bring the young people under his care to be confirmed; and, moreover, the bishop had pleased and gratified the clergy of the neighbourhood, as well, he thought, as the people of Rothwell, by one of the first appointments which he had made, namely, reinstating to the office of rural dean one of the most excellent clergy of his diocese - John Bell, vicar of Rothwell. (Applause.)
It was a great satisfaction to the clergy of the neighbourhood to know that, in moments of difficulty, they could obtain advice from a rural dean who had had so much experience, and had so much common sense. (Applause.)
Mr. Bell had now been vicar of Rothwell for 30 years, and he (Mr. Savile) thought that 30 years' experience in a Yorkshire parish was equal to 50 years' experience in a parish in a more southern latitude. (Applause.)
The hon. and rev. gentleman thanked the assembly for the way in which they had drunk the toast, and concluded by expressing a hope that the bishop and clergy of the diocese would ever continue to retain the good opinion of such true-hearted English gentlemen and English ladies as were assembled on that occasion. (Applause.)
The CHAIRMAN then presented the testimonial in an appropriate address. He regretted his inability to do justice to the merits of their esteemed pastor, whose untiring zeal and diligence in the performance of the arduous duties of his calling as a Christian minister, in that extensive parish, had secured the admiration and regard of all classes of his parishioners. (Applause.)
He had now laboured for their spiritual and moral welfare for the long period of 30 years, with credit to himself, and with advantage to his parishioners. (Hear, hear.)
The urbanity and kindness with which he had treated alike all classes were too well known and appreciated to require any lengthened observation, which would probably be as repugnant to Mr. Bell's feelings as it would be distasteful to the assembly; but he might be permitted to say, from personal observation, that the rev. gentleman had never suffered his own convenience to stand in the way of his pastoral duties.
By night, as by day, his personal attendance had not been withheld in the hour of sickness and distress. His soothing consolation and advice had cheered the wounded spirit in the day of affliction, and his hand had been open to relieve. (Hear, hear.)
The necessitous poor had never been repulsed by forbidding haughtiness, nor the rich offended by an unbecoming levity. He had rejoiced with his parishioners in their prosperity, and sympathised with them in their adversity. His influence had been devoted to the protection of the poor and helpless, and in warning and restraining the evil-doer. (Hear, hear.)
The best portion of his life had been devoted to the welfare of his parishioners; and, in consideration of his services, his parishioners and friends had done themselves the credit of procuring a suitable token of their esteem, in the beautiful service of plate before him, and of which be now begged the rev. gentleman's acceptance. (Cheers.)
The Chairman concluded by expressing a hope that God would bless Mr. Bell with health and prosperity, and permit the connection existing between him and his parishioners to be prolonged to the longest period assigned for human existence. (Loud applause.)
The Rev. J. BELL, who was received with great cordiality, suitably returned thanks for the testimonial.
He said: My friends and parishioners, although during the course of my life I have been placed in many positions of great difficulty, yet I can assure you that I never felt more perplexed than I do at the present moment, for I can neither command words nor select language to express to you my grateful feelings upon this occasion.
Had this magnificent gift emanated from a few of my attached friends, I need not say how much I should have valued it; but coming, as it does, from the collective body of my parishioners, from the high, from the low, from the rich, from the poor, from those who differ from me in political opinions, as well as from those who hold religious sentiments at variance with my own - coming, I say, from such a body, it is indeed doubly prizeable to me; and, now that I am in possession of it, my first object will be to make it an heirloom in my family, that when my children, and their children after them, look upon it, they may at least learn to value it, and endeavour to do their duty in the station of life in which it may please God to call them. (Loud cheers.)
But this, my friends, is not the only act of liberality for which I have to thank you. During the period of my incumbency upwards of £10,000 has passed through my hands cheerfully - chiefly through your munificence, for the spiritual welfare of this important parish; - for building churches, parsonage houses, schools, and last, not least, for better adapting that church to which I am so deeply attached - my own parish church - for public worship. I trust that that money has not been spent in a manner that will cause any one to regret that it has passed through my hands. (Hear, hear.)
It is gratifying to me to feel that the constitutional guardians of the church, the gentlemen churchwardens of this parish, have taken such a lively interest in promoting this testimonial. They, of all others, from the nature of their office, are best calculated to know how far I have discharged my duty amongst you. (Hear, hear.)
It is also most pleasing to me that you have selected a gentleman to present (in your name) this gift who has lived so long in this town, and who has known me from the earliest period of my ministry amongst you. (Applause.)
I am quite sure, from his own excellent character, that he would not have occupied the position which he has done this day did he not feel that he could conscientiously do so. (Hear, hear.)
When I look back over the past 30 years, and remember how other parishes have been disturbed, from one cause or another, it is indeed grateful to my feelings that I can say I have lived in peace and harmony with my parishioners. (Applause.)
Valuable as this dinner service is from its intrinsic worth I hold in my hand that which I can honestly and truly say I value more. (Applause.)
This parchment and what is inscribed upon it will often remind me of your great kindness; and I trust that when my children unroll it, and read the names that are inscribed upon it, they will endeavour to make the same friends, and to recollect how many friends their father had. (Applause)
The best years of my life hare been spent amongst you, and the best energies of my mind have been devoted to your service; and whether, in God's providence, our connection shall be long or short, rest assured that, by God's help, I will continue to be to yon what I ever have been - your faithful pastor. (Cheers.)
The rev. gentleman concluded by expressing a hope that the blessing of God might rest upon the parish.
After a brief pause The Rev. J. BELL again rose, and proposed, in very complimentary terms, "The health of the
churchwardens of this parish," which was appropriately responded to by the VICE-CHAIRMAN, who referred to the harmony which prevailed in the parish of Rothwell, and the great spiritual and moral improvements which had taken place since he first became a churchwarden, nearly 40 years ago.
The Rev R. BURRELL gave "The Testimonial Committee to which Mr. LEE replied. The VICE-CHAIRMAN then proposed "The Ladies," and Mr. BELL, jun., responded to the toast. "The health of the Chairman, proposed by the Rev. Mr. BELL, was next heartily drunk, and the CHAIRMAN acknowledged the compliment. The Hon. and Rev. Mr. SAVILE gave "Prosperity to the coal trade," to which Mr. FENTON replied. The various toasts were interspersed with a selection of vocal music, and the proceedings terminated with the singing of the National Anthem.
DEATH OF THE VICAR OF ROTHWELL.
The Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer. Friday 15 October 1869.
The Rev. John Bell, M.A., vicar of Rothwell, died at his residence, Oulton Green, near Leeds, yesterday morning, We understand that the death of the reverend gentleman, which was somewhat sudden, resulted from disease of the heart. Mr Bell, who was 65 years of age, was son of the late Mr Matthew Bell, of Woolsington, brother to the present Mr Matthew Bell, of the same place, formerly M.P. for Northumberland.
The deceased had held the vicarage of Rothwell for 40 years. He was presented thereto in 1829, by its then patron, a near relative, one of the Brandlings, of Gosforth, Northumberland, Mr Bell's mother being a Miss Brandling.
Besides being vicar of Rothwell, Mr Bell had also for several years filled the office of rural dean for the deanery of Wakefield, and was more recently appointed honorary canon of Ripon Cathedral. As a proof of the high respect which he was held by his clerical brethren, we may mention that Mr Bell was either three or four times in succession elected as one of the proctors to represent the archdeaconry of Craven in the Convocation of the province of York, which post occupied at the time his death.
At the meetings of the Convocation he took an active part, putting forth his views with firmness and decision on the various subjects which were brought under the consideration of that deliberative assembly the Church, but always with exemplary courtesy and kind consideration towards those who differed from him in opinion. He maintained what we may appropriately designate moderate High Church principles, and was earnest and faithful in discharge of his pastoral and other sacred functions.
Nor were his demeanour and conduct less commendable in all the other duties of life which he was called upon to fulfil. He was much beloved by his parishioners, and by those of his clerical and lay brethren in other places with whom be was intimate, and his death will be much and sincerely regretted.
We understand that the living of Rothwell, the income of which is about £1000 a year, is in the gift of Mr Calverley, of Oulton Hall. By Mr Bell's death several distinguished families, including those of Bell, Brandling, Loraine, Ridley, and Fairbairn, will be placed in mourning.
The soup tureen which was presented to Rev. John Bell in 1859. It was sold at Sotheby's in 1974.
FUNERAL OF THE REV. CANON BELL.
Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer. Tuesday 19 October 1869.
Yesterday the remains of the Rev. John Bell, M.A., vicar of Rothwell, and honorary canon of Ripon Cathedral, were interred in the churchyard the village in which he laboured for a period of years.
The death of the rev. gentleman took place suddenly on Thursday morning last. In accordance with the wishes of the family, the funeral, the arrangements for which were entrusted to Messrs John Wales Smith & Son, Commercial Street, Leeds, was of simple and unostentatious character, and none but the nearest relatives were invited to assemble at Oulton Green, the residence at which Bell breathed his last, prior to the ceremony of interment.
At Rothwell, however, the closed shops and the general hush of business pursuits outwardly bespoke the feeling of sorrow which pervaded the parish in which the deceased had passed the better part of his active Christian life, and silent groups at street corners and doorways, and hundreds of spectators in the churchyard, afforded further illustration of the honourable place held by the departed in the hearts his flock.
There was also a large attendance of the clergy, and of those who were included in his wide circle of friends. The funeral cortege left Oulton Green about half-past eleven o' clock. Following the hearse were two mourning coaches, in which were seated Mr C. L. Bell, the Rev. H. Bell, Mrs Bell (widow of deceased). Miss Bell, Captain H. Bell, Mr Arthur Bell, F. Bell, the Rev. S. Watson, the Rev. C. Walsham, and Mr Jewison, jun.
A few private carriages succeeded, amongst them being those of Sir Andrew Fairbairn, Knight, and Mr Calverley, of Oulton Hall, the patron of the living. Many of the villagers of Oulton congregated along the highway to witness the procession. The deep-toned bell of the church was tolling as the hearse made its appearance in Rothwell, and, nearer the burial ground the procession was joined by the clergy in their gowns, and by the other mourners.
The hearse was drawn up in front of the churchyard gates, the coffin having been lifted out, the bearers bore it aloft, and the procession was continued to the western entrance of the sacred edifice.
The pall bearers were Mr Richard Harrison, Mr Faviell of Stockeld Park; Mr Oddie, of Woodlesford; Mr Leather, jun., Mr Turner, and Mr Jewison, sen.
At the gates the procession was met by Rev. R. H. Hamilton of Oulton-cum-Woodlesford, and the Rev. Sidney Greenwood, curate Rothwell, by whom the service for the dead was conducted. Almost the whole of the unreserved part of the church was occupied by the parishioners, and their number was greatly augmented when, after the solemn proceedings in the church, the body was borne to its resting-place at the eastern angle of the burial ground, many spectators having assembled at that spot.
Amid an affecting stillness the officiating clergyman continued and completed the service over the grave, and then when the mourners had pressed forward to take a farewell look at the coffin, which reposed the remains of one who had been a faithful pastor, and a man sincere and amiable in all the relations of life, the proceedings were an end. On the coffin was the simple inscription: Rev. John Bell, M.A. Died 11th October, 1869.