William Bramwell Funeral Procession (1818)

"It is impossible to give any adequate description of the sensation which the account of Mr Bramwell’s sudden death produced on the public mind. He had been long known and highly esteemed in Leeds and its vicinity, as an able champion in the cause of Christ; and the suddenness of his departure out of this world seemed to make everyone more deeply sensible of those excellencies in his character and conduct, to which they had before done ample justice. For few preachers ever attracted larger or more attentive audiences; and, what is very remarkable, notwithstanding his uncommonly faithful admonitions and his great plainness of speech, the ungodly part of mankind flocked to hear him m preference to a great number of his brethren in the ministry. This might be owing, in part, to the peculiar earnestness which distinguished his delivery in the pulpit, and which such persons regarded as a proof of the paramount impression produced on his own mind by the grand truths which he delivered to others.

"Many of his brethren, the preachers, had not left Leeds, the business of conference having only ended at a very late hour the preceding evening; and they testified, in every possible manner, their deep regret for the loss of such a faithful and affectionate fellow labourer. His relatives determined to have his remains removed from Leeds and to deposit them in the burial ground at Westgate Hill. Friday afternoon was the time privately fixed upon for the intended removal. No notice was given of it, except to the remaining preachers, who had expressed a wish to show some public mark of respect for Mr Bramwell's memory: yet an immense multitude of serious well-dressed people, of different religious denominations, had filled up a great part of Woodhouse lane, the road leading to Mr Sigston's dwelling, sometime prior to the hearse moving off with the body. As soon as it began to move from the house a procession was formed, as if from impulse, and without previous concert. The travelling preachers arranged themselves in pairs, according to seniority, and followed immediately after the body. It was a very affecting spectacle to behold such a number of venerable and aged ministers, succeeded by their vigorous younger brethren, all uniting by their presence to render due honour to the virtues of the deceased. Then followed, in the same order, a goodly company of the local preachers and leaders; and after them a promiscuous, but very respectable assemblage of private Christians. The number of attentive and deeply interested spectators that lined both sides of the road was immense; and before the procession had reached the top of Briggate, it had received a very considerable augmentation both of mourners and beholders, who extended from the top to nearly the middle of that fine street. Had any public intimation been given of the time when Mr Bramwell’s remains would be conveyed to Westgate Hill, the crowd would have been so great as to impede the free passage of the procession.

From, ‘Memoir of the Life and Ministry of William Bramwell, by James Sigston, published in 1836, p326-8.

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