William Booth - St Ives (1861-1862)

The Booths moved to St Ives. By this time the town had grown to 7,000 and still fished for pilchards. During the summer season the fisherman line the cliffs to keep lookout for when the shoals of fish arrived. All the fishermen would be waiting for action. The Booths witnessed a sighting and the boats rushed out to where they had been seen and in half an hour some thirty or forty million fish had been enclosed in nets and were waiting to be landed. Two-thirds of the town were employed in landing the fish, putting them in pickle, draining the oil from them and packing them in barrels for transport to the Mediterranean.


The meetings in St Ives took place in all the principal places of worship in the town except for the parish church, but that did not stop the Anglicans coming to the meetings. They went on for three and a half months to January 1862 and nearly all the adults of the town went to at least one of the meetings. Over one thousand adults claimed to have been converted, including 28 ships captains and three mine agents.

Seeing a letter in the Revival from Mr Booth, I thought a few lines from a resident in the town, who has watched the progress of the work, may not be uninteresting. I have heard Mr Booth preach a great many times, and can therefore say something about him. He is the best I ever met with for riveting the attention of the ungodly part of the people: there has not been a minister in St. Ives for the last thirty years who could attract such congregations night after night for such a length of time. Very many souls have been converted to God, and many more seriously impressed. These are not confined to one class, but amongst them are ladies, men of independent means, mine-captains, tradesmen, as well as drunkards, swearers, and very many who have not been to a place of worship for years. Never was there such a change in a town in so short a time, and people from all parts have been flocking to hear. One woman had been coming to and fro for three weeks a journey of twelve miles, and was set at liberty in a class-meeting. A young man came from Gulval, distant seven miles, to hear Mr Booth; the word went to his heart, and he went home endeavouring to stifle conviction, but in vain; he had to rise in the night and cry for mercy. The work spread; his father, mother, and an aged grandmother, as well as two or three sisters, were eventually saved. One Sunday night, a young man fell on his knees and cried for mercy in the open street, between eleven and twelve o'clock, and found pardon too. Glory be to God. The next Sunday night, a man had to rise from his bed and send for someone to pray for him; three came, and remained with him from one till five o'clock on the Monday morning, when he, too, found Jesus. I could go on to multiply cases, but I have said enough to prove that the Lord is eminently blessing the labours of the Rev. W. Booth at St. Ives. Another time, I will tell you something about Mrs Booth's labours amongst the children and others. C. T. S.

From the 'Revival Newspaper', Volume V, page 172.

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