30 January 1845 - 10 June 1860
was the eldest child of Edward and Esther Spencer. He was born on 7 November
1815 in Atherstone, Warwickshire.
His life is characterised by his strong Christian faith and his desire to serve
the Lord. As a young man Joseph tells of how he was brought
to a knowledge of "the trust as it is in Jesus" and his receipt into church
fellowship. He was fond of books, and devoted his leisure
hours to reading and meditation.
Joseph left school at an early age
(between 10 and 11 years) and went to work as Rope and Twine Maker, with his
father Edward .
In 1832 one of his
sisters died suddenly and this affected him greatly. He had been living and
working in Leicester at the time but returned home for her funeral. While
at home in Atherstone, he attended his local church where a sermon by the Rev
Miller greatly affected him and he began to think about giving his life to God
as a missionary.
In 1835 he was to apply to become a Missionary with the London Missionary
Society. An entry from the Minutes of the Candidates
Examination Committee for December 21st 1835 reads: "Joseph Spencer of
Atherstone, recommended by Rev. R M Miller, his pastor, as a schoolmaster.
Questions to be forwarded."
On his appearance before the
Directors of the London Missionary Society, he was not accepted for
missionary work on account of his "feeble constitution".
Deeply disappointed by this, he was encouraged by his Christian friends to
preach the Gospel in villages around Atherstone. His services were
so acceptable that although he had abandoned the thought of devoting
himself to the ministry, he was strongly urged to give himself up to
the work at home.
late 1837 he applied to become a student at Rotherham College.
Rotherham College operated from 1795 to 1888. It was a theological
college, a training college for Ministers of Congregational churches (also
then called Independent churches). At a committee meeting held
on 3 January 1838 the committee members resolved that "Joseph Spencer,
aged 22, a member of the church at Atherstone, Warwickshire, having
personally appeared before the Committee be admitted on probation"
It was customary for senior students on
leaving the college to read a paper at the Annual General Meeting. At the
AGM held on 29 June 1842, Joseph Spencer read a paper entitled "The Poetry of
the Hebrews". At the completion of his studies at Rotherham College,
Joseph went on to become minister of the Congregational Church at Bakewell in
An article in the Derby newspaper
the "Mercury" dated 4 October 1842 tells of the induction of the Rev J Spencer
to the Independent Chapel at Bakewell:
Tuesday, the 4th
October, the Rev Joseph Spencer late of Rotherham College, was solemnly set
apart to the pastorate of the church and congregation assembling in the
Independent chapel at Bakewell, Derbyshire.
The Rev W H Stowell, President of Rotherham college,
delivered the introductory address, which was distinguished by great research,
perspicuity and force, presenting the historical supports of Congregational
principles, and inviting to a careful reflection upon the evidence referred
to; the Rev W Blandy of Chesterfield, asked the usual questions; and the
pastor-elect, after satisfactory replies, was recognised by the laying on of
hands and solemn prayer by the Rev James Gawthorne, of Derby; with great
penetration and much solicitude, the Rev Thomas Smith M.A., Classical Tutor of
Rotherham College, set forth in the charge from 1 Tim, iv 12-16, the nature,
encouragements, difficulties and responsibilities of the Christian ministry.
In the afternoon, many sat down to an agreeable repast,
provided by the friends of the chapel, assisted by the unsolicited kindness of
Mrs Greaves, on the premises of Joseph Hodgson Esq of Holme-hall, who, with
his wonted hospitality, kindly fitted up a room for the occasion, and welcomed
visitors to tea.
The Rev R.M. Miller of
Atherstone, (Mr S's late pastor) preached in the evening from 1 Thess v15, and
with much energy and faithfulness enforced the duties of the church and
deacons, both to each other and to their minister.
The Revs C Wilson, of Sutton-in Ashfield; J Sargent of
Tideswell; W. Colville of Middleton;
and W. Brown of Wirksworth, severely conducted
the other devotional exercises of the day:
and other ministers and students attended the ordination. The services closed
with the desires
and hopes of many, that their interest and solemnity might be long remembered
satisfaction and followed by much spiritual good.
The following year at the age of 27
and Jane had seven children:
b. 30 January 1845, Bakewell
b. 1850, Bakewell
b. 1851, Chinley
b. 1857, Chinley
b. 1858, Chinley
b. 1859, Chinley
Census shows Joseph and Jane living at 125 Church Street, Bakewell with
Robinson, Robert and Maria.
He remained at the Independent
Chapel in Bakewell for eleven years before moving in 1853 to become the pastor
for Tipping Street Chapel in Ardwick, Manchester. It is recorded that he
seemed peculiarly adapted to his new sphere and laboured usefully in it during
the three years he served at the Chapel. On leaving his ministry at Tipping
Street Chapel, his parishioners presented him with a writing desk as a memorial
of his time spent as their Pastor together with the sum of 27 pounds. Joseph's
health had deteriorated in this time and he sought an office in the country.
When the church at Chinley heard of this, he was invited to accept the office of
its co-pastor with the Rev E Glossop who had been the pastor at Chinley Chapel
for 50 years. This he did in 1856. An invitation was given to the "Christian
public" of Chinley to a service and afternoon tea on Wednesday afternoon, June
25th 1856, to welcome the Rev J. Spencer and to hear a Testimonial
for the Rev E Glossop.
To support his large family, in
addition to his duties as pastor of Chinley Chapel, he was obliged to add to his
duties a day school to provide for their support, and he worked hard to fulfil
his duties in both capacities.
Joseph was to serve as Pastor at
Chinley Chapel for only four years before he died unexpectedly at the age of 44
on Sunday morning, June 10th 1860.
The family received many letters
of condolence on Joseph's passing. One letter sent to his eldest daughter,
Maria, aged 10 calls on her to try to comfort her "poor Mamma":
"My dear little Maria
I have just written a
few lines to your Mamma but think I have time for a short note to you also, to
tell you how much I feel for you in the loss of your dear Papa. He was a kind,
good father and friend. I would not say to you, that you must not fret about
his being taken from you, for I know my dear, you cannot help it, but I hope you
will try to comfort your poor Mamma in every way you can and not make her feel
worse by seeing you unhappy. Ask God to take care of you and I am sure he will
for he says in the Bible, that he is the "God of the Fatherless". Your poor
dear Papa is happy now, and will be for evermore. You must try to remember all
the good things he said to you and when you are tempted to do wrong ask God to
guide you from temptation and then when he takes you from this world, you will
join your Papa in heaven to be separated no more.
think perhaps Mama will send little Agnes to see me. I should like to see you
very much, but I do not ask you to come just now, because I think you will be a
comfort to your Mamma. I hope however to see you after a while, give my best
love to Robinson and Freddy and,
me my dear girl.
Your affectionate friend
282 Norton Place, Longsight
Manchester, June 12th
booklet "The History of Chinley Chapel" records the following about Joseph's
The Ministry of Joseph Spencer
1857 - 1860
Shortly after the death of
Ebeneezer Glossop, the Rev Joseph Spencer was appointed Minister, but he
only lived for four years after his appointment. It is stated on his
tombstone that he faithfully and affectionately preached the gospel. His
death was lamented. His ministry opened with great promise to be a worthy
successor to Ebeneezer Glossop, whose long ministry had a laid a good
His life was cut short, but not before he left a good influence. He died on
10th June 1860 aged 44 years.
Joseph is buried with his wife Jane in
the churchyard of Chinley Chapel in Derbyshire.
His headstone reads:
to the memory of:
Joseph Spencer, who for 4 years faithfully, and affectionately preached the
Gospel to the congregation worshipping in the adjoining chapel,
died the 10th day of June 1860,
are the dead which die in the Lord from hence forth,
yea saith the spirit they may rest from their labours,
and their works do follow them'.
Also Jane Spencer, wife of the
above who departed this life November 13th 1905 in the 88th year of
'Her children arise up and call