|Rev. Roger Howell of Beckington (1742-1812)|
|The Monthly Repository of Theology and General Literature, from January to December inclusive 1812
Published, 1813 by Sherwood, Neely and Jones , Paternoster Row
Rev. Roger Howell
I take the liberty of submitting, by your leave, a brief account of the life of the late Rev. Roger Howell, minister of the Presbytarian congregation at Beckington, in the county of Somerset.
This worthy and respectable man was born at a place called Nantmole, in the parish of Llangyfelach, in the county of Glamorgan, South Wales, on the 18th day of March, in the year 1742. His father was a respectable farmer residing on his own estate, had the character of a good man, and was the son of the venerable and respectable minister of Gelli Onnen and Cwm Lynfell, for a great number of years. His name was Roger Howell, as was the name of his grandson, the subject of this memoir. The name of Roger Howell is still familiar in the neighbourhood of Gelli-Onnen amongst the more aged inhabitants and his memory is respected on account of his piety, learning and labours in the discharge of his pastoral office. His intimate knowledge in the scripture was so well known, that he was often referred to as a living concordance when in company and allusion had to any part of the Bible! Doubtless his memory was unusually strong, and in this respect, as well as in many others, his grandson and namesake much resembled him.
Mr. Howell when he was about 6 years old sustained the loss of a most excellent mother, whose memory he retained with gratitude and love not only as a son who had received from her the first information of the nature and claims of religion. An endearing tie! It is highly probable that his first idea of devoting himself to the Christian ministry was suggested by the esteem in which his relation had been held, and by his useful and successful labours, as a nonconformist minister. His ardour for learning appeared at an early period, in a village school, and the quickness of his intellectual powers were soon noticed. After spending some of his early years in schools in the neighbourhood, he was removed to Brecon, and placed under the care of his maternal uncle, the Rev. D. Jones, who officiated there as a dissenting minister and kept a seminary for the education of youth. And here the subject of our memoir persued his classical studies, with his usual diligence and success, though not without some discouragement and interruption, till the period of his commencing his academical studies in Carmarthen, under the direction of the Rev. Mr. Thomas and the Rev. Mr. afterwards Dr. Jenkins; this was in the year 1761. The writer of this article has the pleasure of knowing from one of his fellow students, that his conduct during his stay at this seminary of learning, was highly creditable to him, not only as a scholar but also as a Christian, who had his mind influenced and regulated by the nature and importance of his future office! Patience, ardour and perseverance attended all his literary and theological persuits, whilst friendship, benevolence and dignified candour, marked the innocence, firmness and elevation of his mind, in his intercourse with all those with whom he was connected. As a scholar, as a man and as a Christian, he stood high in the esteem of his tutors; as a friend and companion, he was deservedly respected by his fellow students. His classical and particularly his mathematical studies, to which he was ever partial, occupied a large portion of his time during his stay at Carmarthen and his proficiency was proportioned to his diligence and genius. Hebrew and theology, as they claimed his attention, in a high degree had it.
Having finished his studies, he retired for some months to the place of his nativity, and occasionally preached in the pulpit that had been so long and worthily occupied by his revered ancestor. But he had not been long in this state of retirement before he was called to take charge of the grammar school attached to the Academy in Carmarthen, I believe on the resignation of Mr. Thomas. He repaired again to the seat of learning which he had not long left; and took upon him this new charge. No one who knew Mr. Howell but also knew how well he was qualified for this situation. However, his health declining, and having received an invitation from Beckington, he resigned his charge at Carmarthen, and settled there about the year 1766, and remained in that place till within a short time of his death. It was after his settlement at Beckington, the writer of this account had the happiness and pleasure of his personal acquaintance, which has been of pretty long standing; therefore it enables him to appreciate the character of this worthy man.
From what has been said in the preceding part of this account, you will be disposed to infer that our friend's character was not a common one. His ardour in the persuit of literature was gratified in this place of retirement with a small congregation whi highly valued him. Here he extended and improved his acquirements in almost all the walks of science, and treasured in himself a store of information in history, chronology, divinity, &c. and his memory was so uncommonly tenacious, that he accurately retained the most important transactions with which his extensive reading furnished him, so as to render his society and conversation equally edifying and pleasant. But his thirst after knowledge, and especilly the study of the Arabic and Persic languages at a late period in life, brought on a nervous debility from which he suffered great pain and anguish. But even this was not able to repress his literary ardour, for he continued to increase his store almost to the last. He has left behind him a very large collection of manuscript sermons, which he composed during a period of 46 years at Beckington, and which he delivered to his people from the pulpit, besides other manuscripts.
In his theological sentiments he was liberal but firm; ready to concede to others the right which he also claimed for himself. For many years past he had embraced the doctrine of the Divine Unity, and was well acquainted with the controversy on that subject. This probably stood in the way of his election as president in the Carmarthen Academy. Metaphysics he had also studied with close attention, particularly the controversy betwixt Dr. Clarke and Leibnitz, and which of late years has been revived by Dr. Priestly and his opponents. In his sentiments he was a libertarian. As a preacher he was not popular; I mean that his elocution was not that which secured the attention of the multitude. But his discourses were always judicious, connected and practical; perhaps too much so, to secure the attention of the crowd of negligent and superficial hearers. As a minister and Christian, all who knew him will testify that his whole life was in perfect harmony with his ministerial character. Unsullied purity, extensive benevolence, unfeigned humility and goodness adorned his life and dignified his ministry. He lived what he taught.
He was twice married, and has left behind him an only child, a daughter, by the first marriage, to whom he was warmly attached as he had been a widower many years before his death. It was at his daughter's house, at Coomb, near Bath, he finished his course, having the happiness of receiving the kindest attention from a daughter, who revived in his mind all the amiable virtues of her mother, which had dwelt so near his heart! He died on the 25th May, 1812, and was interred at his meeting house at Beckington, on the 30th of the same month. His complaint was a disease of the liver, attended with excrutiating pain, which he bore with exemplary patience, fortitude and resignation to the Divine will, cherished by the promises of a resurrection to the everlating life, revealed by the gospel. The Divine mercy, goodness and love by Jesus Christ formed the basis of his trust and hope; and on this rock he calmly resigned his breath, counselling and blessing all those who were around him. The funeral service was performed and a sermon delivered on the next Lord's day by his friend the Rev. Mr. Griffith.
|Descendants of Roger Howell of Beckington:|
|As described above, Roger Howell married twice and was survived by an only daughter. His first wife was Sarah Carpenter of Beckington, Somerset (born circa 1745). They married at Beckington on 7th August 1769 and their daughter, Elizabeth (Bessie) was born there circa 1777. I haven't as yet, found a record of Sarah Howell's death, but on 4th December 1788, Roger married a Mrs Lydia Adams, widow of the local doctor, suggesting that Sarah died when her daughter was quite young.
Roger's daughter, Elizabeth was herself married on 13th November 1798 at Beckington to Robert Holway Perks of Monkton Combe, near Bath. Robert, born circa 1775, and described in several references as a "pork butcher", was the son of Charles & Elizabeth (nee Holway) Perks of Monkton Combe. Robert & Elizabeth had at least 7 children:
|Robert Howell Perks (c.1801-1852):
Described in his will as a "cheese & bacon factor", Robert was also a brewer. He married Jane Carpenter of Beckington on Thursday 21st June 1827. According to the "Devizes & Wiltshire Gazette", Jane was the youngest daughter of the late, James Carpenter & his wife, Elizabeth (nee Wheeler) and her family was probably related in some way to Robert's maternal grandmother, Sarah Carpenter. Unfortunately, Jane died a year later in October 1828, aged only 25 years - with apparently no surviving children. Robert was enumerated at Monkton Combe in the censuses of 1841 and 1851. He died in 1852.
|Elizabeth Holway Perks (1802-1846):
Elizabeth married William Robinson Carden, a cheesemonger of the City of London at South Stoke, Somerset on 26th May 1825. The couple raised their family of 4 children at Stoke Newington, Middlesex:
William Perks Carden (1826-1869)
Robert Carden (1827-?)
Elizabeth Carden (1830-?)
Emily Carden (1832-?)
|Sarah Carpenter Perks (1808-1867):
Sarah married dentist, Frederick Sandon of Sutton Coldfield, Warwickshire at South Stoke, Somerset in 1832. They made their home in London where they were enumerated in the censuses of 1841-1861. They didn't have any children and both died in the late 1860s.
|Charlotte Rogers Perks (1810-1855):
Charlotte married draper & undertaker, Robert Bulgin of Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire circa 1834. They set up business at Cheltenham in Gloucestershire, where their 3 children were born and raised. After Charlotte's death, Robert lived in Surrey and later, London:
Robert Cadby Bulgin (1835-1901) married Catherine Dickson of Ireland & Swansea
James Bulgin (1837-1880) married Elise Louise Drogez of France
Elizabeth Ann Bulgin (1838-?) married Rev. Dr. James Hiles Hitchens of Bath
|Charles Perks (c.1812-1831):
Died, aged only 19 years and is buried at St. Michael's Church, Monkton Combe.
|Henry Perks (1815-1866):
Enumerated in the household of his older brother, Robert in the censuses of 1841 & 1851, Henry took over the family business in Monkton Combe after Robert's death in 1852. The following year he married Emily Jones of Wiltshire and they had 3 children, the youngest of whom died in childhood. Wife, Emily died in 1862 and Henry died in 1866, leaving 2 orphaned sons under the age of 12:
Dr. Robert Howell Perks (1854-1929) married Frances Mary Tregaskis of Swansea
Edward Perks (1856-?)
Elizabeth Emily Perks (1857-1861)
|Dr. Edward Rogers Perks (1817-1889):
Admitted as a member of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1839, Edward spent most of his professional life in Portsea, Hampshire, where he gained a reputation as an obstetrician. He was married twice:
Firstly to Winifred Gilbert Livesey Ediss of Portsmouth in 1859 and after her death in 1882, he married Sarah Reed, also of Portsmouth, in 1885. He didn't have any children.
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