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Testament to John Humphrey

 

To the Parishioners of Chessington

   I feel that I must write a few lines to give expression to my own great sorrow and that of many amongst us at the departure of Mr. Humphrey's family from Chessington. The name has been so long and so pleasantly associated in my mind with the parish for the last forty-two years.  That the loss is a great one to me personally, as of highly valued and kind friends and a loss to the village of a family that has lived so blamelessly honoured and esteemed by all, it no inconsiderable one. Mr. Stephen Humphrey has ever proved himself no unworthy son of his good father who in 1829 took Cop-Guilders Hall Farm, which has since, been held by the family until now. Mr. John Humphrey died in 1871, and as there was no Parish Magazine in those days, I should be glad now to place his name on record in our Parish Annals as one of the most worthy of the patriarchs of Chessington. I extract the following from a sermon preached by me at his death and printed by desire of the family.

 'Long shall we remember John Humphrey . . . so simple and unostenatious in his habits, so faithful and just and liberal in his views, and in his dealings a manly, true-hearted yeoman of the best English type. There some who remember him for forty years as a resident of this place, and I for one can go back for nearly twenty years and can truly say that from the first day I knew him until his death I always found him the same honest John Humphrey, the same kind-hearted parishioner - consistent, upright, rightminded, kind-hearted and gentle in all his relations, a genuine man and a Christian without guile. Who of us does not recall his pleasant smile, his ready and cheerful laugh, the kindness of his look, the warmth of his friendly greeting?  But the point I would lay especial stress on is this, that in him the living source of all that was good, was faith.  The life he lived in the flesh he lived by faith in the Son of God Who loved him end gave Himself for him. This wonderful truth was to him a bright and living reality; on this his hopes were built and this his soul reposed; on this his life was framed. How consistent a lover he was of the House of God we all can testify. He took great interest in the enlargement of our Church and the last few walks he was able to take were, as he said, to see how the Church was getting on - the Church of which he was churchwarden for thirty years. He was a regular and devout communicant. The body and blood of Christ in the Holy Eucharist he longed to receive to his souls comfort, on his bed of sickness, at a time when his little remaining strength, was almost unequal to the effort. His great desire was to make others happy and to give no occasion of trouble or annoyance to any.

   I have quoted thus much of what was passing in the minds of many twenty-two years ago and I have now done so because I hold that the names of the good and the great and the faithful in our village life ought to find an honoured place in the Annals of the village. I have merely said of Mr. Stephen Humphrey, our excellent churchwarden for many years, that he is a worthy son of his father and he would hardly wish for words of higher honour. He and Mrs. Humphrey and their family and, not least, our kind and diligent Sunday School teacher will carry with them the affectionate regards of many friends to their happily not distant home from which I hope we may often see them amongst us.

 

Your sincere friend,

W.CHETWYND STAPYLTON

 

Chessington Parish Magazine c.1880s