Dr Charles Smith

My Grandfather, Charles Smith, was a Methodist Minister in about 1880, in Jamaica, British West Indies. He married the daughter of what I assume to be the Moderator of the West Indies, Rev Francis Bavin, in, I would guess, 1890? I understand that the Chapel he built is still there at Stoney Hills just outside Kingston. Francis was born on 17th April 1853 in Kings Lynn and baptised in Doddington, Cambs.

What happened after that was very strange. Charles and his wife left Jamaica and returned as Salvation Army Officers, which I understand would have caused a ‘shock wave!’ They had 4 children, the eldest was Francis who joined the RAF in 1935 after training as a mental nurse. He was the lowest of the low, Aircraftman 2nd class. He qualified as an Observer which meant he was navigator,gunner,radio operator and anything else. He served in Jordan and trained the soldiers of Glb Pasha. He served in Bomber Command, getting the DFM as Sergeant over Germany. He reached the rank of Squadron Leader, retiring to Zimbabwe to grow roses and bees. The three girls were Elsie Laurie, Olive, and Lindy. My mother (Elsie) trained as a Salvation Army Officer and met my father, George Stone, who had been born in Colombo, Ceylon. My mother was a distinguished Poet, Sculptor and Playwright after leaving the Salvation Army. They had two children, my elder brother Peter who served with distinction in the Intelligence Corps in Cyprus, Yemen, Malaysia, Borneo, ending up a Staff Sergeant. He left the army and was tragically killed by a car on the wrong side of the road running straight into him. He left 4 children Richard, Carole, Joseph and Jennifer.Then there’s me, Philip, 25 years with IBM International, opera singer, composer, now working at Sainsbury’s in Fareham Hants.

The second daughter of Charles Smith, Olive, married a Dr Blackham and they had a son, Joe, who became a Rear Admiral in our navy. Joe’s son, Jeremy, recently retired from being Vice Admiral.

Can anyone add to my my family history? I believe one ancestor, a Bavin, was Bishop of Portsmouth but resigned to become a monk!

Please contact me:


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  • Methodism in Jamaica in the early 20th century was mostly Wesleyan , but there was also the UMFC who were smaller. If you consult Oliver Beckerlegge United Methodist Ministers and their circuits (1968) you will find brief sections on your ancestors.

    It says Charles Smith served as follows

    1901 Gordontown Jamaica

    1903 Browns Hall

    1907 Gordontown

    1909 Stony Hill

    1911 ?

    1912 left to join the Methodist Episcopal Church.

    He had been Chairman of the District 1908-10. 

    Francis Bavin has more detail. I only include the Jamaican bit

    He entered the ministry of the UMFC in Britain in 1873 and served in English circuits until 1898 Kingston and Stoney Hill Jamaica

    1907 do Supernumerary

    1913 back in England. He died in 1933 and his obituary is in the 1933 minutes. 

    The UMFC joined with others to form the United Methodist Church in 1907 and this joined the Wesleyans and the Primitives to form the Methodist Church in 1932. Bavin was therefore a minister in 3 different churches in his lifetime. If you consult http://www.wesleyhistoricalsociety.org.uk/dmbi/ you will find more details on these churches. 

    I hope this is some help. 

    John Lenton

    WHS Librarian

    By John Lenton (01/02/2016)

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