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Twickenham United Reformed Church

Local History: The Journal of Abraham Slade 1817-1903

Introduction and Prologue 1856-57 1858-59
1860-61 1862-67 1868-80 1881-86 1887-1903

Editor's introduction

When I was working on our church history, published in 1982 as 'Chapel Next the Green', Mr Jack Slade, mentioned to Harold Bennett, our then minister and Mr Slade's next door neighbour, that he had a journal kept by his grandfather, Abraham Slade, which included a number of references to our church and he allowed these to be quoted. Shortly after CNtG was published I approached Mr Slade with a view to publishing selected extracts from the whole journal and he agreed to this and lent me the journal. I extracted the parts which I thought would be of more general interest (which are now on these pages) and gave him a copy, but he then decided that it would not be right to publish it, a decision which I of course respected.

More recently I approached the family to see whether they would be willing to reconsider this decision, now that 100 years have passed since Abraham Slade's death, and they have given their consent. This text is made available for the benefit of those who are interested in the history of the area and life in Victorian times. Three dots ... indicate where passages have been omitted and when making the copy I tried to retain the original spelling. Please note that I do not have the original document or copies of it, so cannot answer questions relating to the content.

If you're looking for detailed references to local history you may be disappointed - the building of the Kingston railway loop through the fields of Strawberry Hill gets one line [March 2nd 1861] - but as you follow the narrative you'll see how a self-confessed wayward youth who grew up in pre-Victorian Somerset, came to Twickenham and through various trials built a good business which enabled him to enjoy a comfortable retirement - in the later years holidays are a key event. You'l see references to friends and relatives emigrating to the colonies 'never to be seen again', childhood mortality, his interest in cycling and his involvement in the Twickenham Independent [Congregational, now United Reformed] and Baptist churches.

In the Post Office Street Directory for 1860 Abraham Slade is listed as a 'Cabinet Maker' but moved into building and is described in Whibley's 1865 Street Directory as 'Builder and Undertaker' (the two often went together as readers of 'The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists' will know).

Thanks go to Anthony Beckles Wilson for indentifying the locations of some of the houses mentioned in the text.

Tony Bryer, November 2004


I bought this book in Oxford Street, London February 11 1856

A.Slade Twickenham Green Middlesex

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Was born at Upton Noble in the county of Somerset Feb 6th 1817 - Son of Jacob and Sarah Slade - and grandson of Thomas and Miriam Slade - and of Edward and Margaret Tanner.

It is good sometimes to look back at our early days. More particularly when our eyes have been opened by Divine Grace, to see the way wherein the Lord has led us. As my dear children may probly, some,if not all of them, survive me, it may be interesting to them to know something of the history of the life, more particular, of the early part of the life of their Father.

I shall be very brief in this part of my history, as 34 years of my life was spent in sin, running after the vanities of this wicked world, seeking rest and finding none. Having when about 7 years of age gone to a Methodist chapel school on Sundays, and hearing good men pray, it had a great effect on my mind. I began to think seriously, and the Spirit of the Lord strove with me, which is the first serious Impressions, I can recollect.

But Alas, they were like the morning dew, they soon wore off, and my parents both being ignorant of the plan of salvation, cared little for their own souls or the souls of their children (at that time).

When about 17 years of age I was apprenticed, at Wincanton a little town in Somersetshire where I had a very bad example set me a boy as I was without anyone to care for my Spiritual welfare.

About that time a great revival took place among the Methodist at Upton Noble, my native village, and among many others my own poor ignorant Father, was said to be converted, and then I became serious myself and felt I should like to become a child of god. I have got up on the sunday morning and walked over to Upton to meet the people of God, by 7 O'clock in the morning, a distance of 9 miles, and felt a pleasure in doing so. My master being an ungodly man, and a great swearer, and his men no better, were good instruments in the hand of satan to harras my soul, as soon as they saw I was more serious, than usual. And alas for me, I returned like the dog to his own vomit and became worse than ever.

When 26 years of age I got tired of Wincanton. Although I had a wife and a dear child I had a serious mind and wanted to see the world, nothing would do, but I must leave all and to London I came, a stranger in this city of vice and wretchedness. And when there I found myself farther from happyness than ever. Although at times I had very serious thoughts, but sin and the folly of this wicked world was my chief pursuit.

When 30 years of age I lost my dear partner, who is now in Heaven, who before her death exhorted a promise from me that I would give my heart to God. Although at that time I never thought I should, but the Lord saw fit to afflict me and this made me serious for a time, but as before I relapsed into sin and became as before and worse.

In the March of the year 1848 I left London and came to Twickenham little thinking that this was to be my future destiny, but my heavenly guide knew how to bring matters about for to bring me to himself. (Glory be to his holy name)

I continued my old course till the year 1851, which was the year of my spiritual birth, and the best of my life. In July of that year I was more than usual unhappy and could not tell for why. I thought as in my younger days I would see some other part of the world and try, and find happyness, so I summoned up a resolution and myself & my dear wife Mary went down into my native country, but still I could not find what I wanted viz. happyness, so when we got home to Twickenham I bethought me how I should procure this happyness which I so earnestly desired.

I studied the works of God in nature, but in this I found no peace till it pleased god of his goodness to open my understanding, having accidently dropped in to the Independent chapel on Twickenham Common one Sunday evening, and heard young Dr Liefchild from London preach. Convictions seized my mind, and bless god his spirit again strove with me. In this state of mind I laboured for some weeks, praying and shedding tears, and working alone at that time I felt gloomy and like a sparrow alone on the house top.

Having gone with my wife one Sunday evening to hear the Methodist, and their kind attention drew my affection toward them, being invited by Mr Griffin, to attend the class meeting I did so and to my joy this occurred in Oct 1851. A step I have never regretted. It pleased the Lord to draw me by the Still voice, and gradually light broke upon my mind, till at length I could exclaim 'O Lord though thou wast angry with me, thine anger is turned away, and now thou comfortedst me'. The enemy was very busy with me and told me I was not converted, and a thousand other things, but I knew in whom I had believed and that he was able to keep that I had committed to him.

In the latter end of the year 1852 I was short of employ and left the shop where I had been for nearly five years, not knowing what to do, I committed my ways to him who has promised to direct one, and all who trust in him, and he opened a way of life for me that I little expected. I started on my own account and the Lord sent me a plenty of work and now, the time I am writing is the 17 day of Feb 1856 and I am doing very well having enough for 3 men and myself.

Since I have known the Lord I have had many severe trials with the enemy but hitherto his grace has been sufficient for me. I am resolved this day to give myself afresh to him, and by his help to serve him better. I have been more in the spirit of prayer of late and have had some delightful seasons, but I am obliged to be very watchful as I find my heart is very deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. May the Lord help me for Christ's sake.

The Journal

Introduction and Prologue 1856-57 1858-59 1860-61 1862-67 1868-80 1881-86 1887-1903

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