These recollections are edited from Ebenezer George’s writings by Peter Rowell his grandson. (originally published in ‘Gospel Tidings’, 1978, under the title ‘A Man Greatly Beloved’)
This is the material that he gives regarding his father Sidney Benjamin Rowell.
My father was one of many, and was led away by Satan and ran the downward road for some years and no doubt gave his father and mother much trouble. He and his brother Walter learned the tailoring, and when grown up went to London and I believe lived a wild life. He got amongst a lot of hawkers and took up selling cheese and silver plated goods. He told me how they deceived the people. They bought a cheap common cheese and then made a hole in the middle and filled it with good cheese, then got the customers to taste it.
It is interesting that the 1861 Census gives a snapshot of this part of Sydney’s life. There are a couple of men in the same lodgings in London who are described as ‘Gilders’ it may be that it was these men who Sydneys worked with in deceiving the people of London.
He now fell in love with the one who was my mother and came home and settled down a bit, and after some time was married to my mother. He and my uncle were very fond of coursing as they lived in the fens, and they both kept very fine greyhounds. My uncle was in a very good position and could stand it but my father was not, and as there was a young family come along he got behind (i.e. in debt. Ed.) and great trouble came into their lives.
Then the Lord began to work and He brought down his heart with labour. His business went wrong and was sold up, and at that time they were able to take even the beds as well. My mother at this time was expecting a little one again, and father had to make up a bed and beg some straw to fill it and mother had to lie on the floor. My mother was an only child and had been brought up well and cared for.
What with this and soul trouble, my father felt he could not carry on, and went to Peterborough bridge to throw himself over. But the Lord spoke to him and stopped him. How Satan loves to lead men on until he carries them to destruction. The way of transgressors is hard.
About this time he moved to a village called Wistow, near Ramsey, and started in business there, but things did not go very grand and at last he moved to Ramsey, Hunts.
My mother’s parents died and left her some money which helped them, but father spent too much, it was always one of his failings, so that poverty still followed them. It was at Ramsey my Father was taught (spiritually) and at last found a Baptist chapel. But after a time they could not feed (spiritually) so my father walked over to Warboys, four miles on a Sunday, to hear Mr. Lambourne and then I believe the Lord smiled upon them. He was able to get a pony and trap to go round the fens for orders, and to drive to Warboys.
But the Lord deepened the work in his soul, and then exercised him about preaching, and after some time sent him out and made a way for him in the villages round about, to speak in His name. As a boy I sometimes went with him to Woodhurst, Benwick and Alconbury, but after some time he had calls from a distance and then supplied churches round Fenstanton, Elsworth, Oakington, Swaffam Prior, Chatteris, Eaton Bray, Lakenheath, and many others at a greater distance. He was then called to Chatteris and took the pastorate there until his death. He had a most blessed end and on the day he died he was in a sweet frame and was able to converse to the end. In the morning of the day he died he asked my sister what time it was and she said it was twelve. Then he answered, “The Lord is coming to fetch me about four”. He asked again later and repeated the same words, and he passed away at a quarter to four.