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Mr David Darnell
Obituary & Funeral

David DarnellRushden Echo, 29th January 1926, transcribed by Kay Collins

Death of Mr David Darnell
The Grand Old Man of Rushden
Life-long Abstainer and Non-smoker

The “grand old man” of Rushden, Mr David Darnell, who reached the 95th and was near to the 96th anniversary of his birthday, passed peacefully away on Monday, just before 10p.m. For a considerable number of years past he had been the oldest inhabitant of Rushden. That he had lived to such a remarkable age as 90 years he had attributed to his having been a lifelong total abstainer and non-smoker and to the fact that he had always followed temperate and regular habits. He gave this opinion to a Rushden Echo reporter personally on his 90th birthday. Then, and ever since, Mr Darnell enjoyed practically full possession of his faculties, both mental and physical. As recently as a few weeks before Christmas Mr Darnell was walking out alone in Rushden, and almost as upright as ever. His tall, spare figure has been less and less commonly seen of late years, though it is extraordinary how persistent Mr Darnell was in his habit of outdoor exercise after many another would have given up the attempt at going out unaided.

Born in April 1830, at Irchester, Mr Darnell has outlived more than a generation. A boot maker in his young days, Mr Darnell went to work in the same trade at Finedon after he married. He came to Rushden in 1863, and worked for such well-known firms as Messrs John Cave and Sons, William Colson, and William Claridge. It goes without saying that the industry was completely altered in methods and style of output during Mr Darnell’s association with the trade.

On Oct. 7th, 1876, the Rushden Co-operative Society was formed. Mr Darnell was one of the founders. The first minutes taken show that the first committee comprised Messrs J Lambert, Richard Denton, William Green, Joseph Sherwood, Joseph Bayes, David Darnell and Charles Green. From the start Mr Darnells’s house (in Green’s-Yard) was used as the society’s stores. He was made manager (Mr Thomas Brightwell being secretary), and up to 1892 he filled various offices, such as salesman, treasurer, etc.

Thanks to his proved ability to manage, the society thrived and weathered a rough passage very satisfactorily. Some present members can remember how well the society was kept going and regained all its old support and secured many new members and capital. The present strong position of the society is itself very largely a tribute to the pioneers, worthy followers of the men of Rochdale. Mrs Darnell (who died in November 1901) used to assist her husband very materially during the many years of his official association with the Rushden Co-operative Society. Mr Darnell lived to the 50th year of the society’s existence, but unhappily, not to see the jubilee celebrations.

A Prominent Baptist

Mr Darnell has been best known and revered in his long association with the Baptist Church in Rushden. He was baptised at the Finedon Church and became a member of the Rushden church (the old “Top Meeting”) in 1863, during the ministry of the Rev R E Bradfield. At the time of his death his name stood second on the Church Roll. For a short time he was a Sunday school teacher, and for very many years he was a lay preacher, but he had not been able to fulfil such duties for a long time before his death. He used to conduct services and preach at many of the villages in the locality, particularly Chelveston, which was the last place which he visited to take charge of a service. At the annual Covenant service this year, Mr Darnell was absent for the first time, though he attended the previous one and two years ago he spoke at considerable length and very interestingly. He also spoke at the bicentenary of the Church, alluding to his feeling of loss of the old friends he had known half-a-century before and of the great spiritual growth of the Rushden Baptist Church. Last October Mr Darnell attended a Communion service and offered prayer, this being his last public act of worship. It was natural that Mr Darnell should have been made a deacon in his early life (which has meant that he has for years been senior deacon). He was appointed deacon in 1880 and served in that capacity under the pastorates of the Revs W A Davis, W J Tomkins, W F Harris, H J Horn, R C Law, and J A Sutherland. Mr Darnell was elected a life deacon following the recognition of the Rev J A Sutherland.

The family who are living are Mr W H Darnell and Mrs F S Knight. After the death of Mrs Darnell (at their home in Victoria-road) Mr Darnell gave up his home and went to live with his son-in-law and daughter, Mr and Mrs F S Knight, in Essex-road.

The funeral will take place to-morrow.

Rushden Echo, 5th February 1926, transcribed by Kay Collins

Burial of Rushden’s “Grand Old Man”
Pastor’s Address on Character of Deceased – Service Well Attended

A most impressive funeral was held on Saturday at Rushden, when the body of Mr David Darnell, the “Grand Old Man” of the town, was laid to rest. As befitted the burial of a man who had lived to the ripe age of 95, the ceremony was quiet and dignified, but not depressing, in spite of the wet weather. A simple service—not a note of finality, but a passing over, and a feeling that a man who lived his full span and had done his duty well had gone to claim his reward in another sphere.

A service was held in the Park-road Baptist Church, of which deceased had been a senior deacon and for which he had worked as leader and lay preacher for very many years, and the Rev A J Sutherland conducted this and also the committal service at the cemetery. There was a large and representative gathering in the church, including a deputation from the Rushden Industrial Co-operative Society, of which deceased was the first manager, and part-founder, consisting of Messrs C Giles, F Berrill, W Clark, jun., and J Houghton. The deacon (Mr J Lack) in Mr Darnell’s place was present, as also was Mr J F Knight, chairman of the Finance Committee of the Church. In addition to many old residents of Rushden and district and a section of the general public, those present included the other deacons of the church, Messrs F Corby (secretary), J Sykes, H Lack, C A K Green, F J Sharwood, E Lack, E Harris, Horace Wright, and W Makeham and Miss Williams. Other workers of the church were Messrs J Bennett (for local preachers), W B Sanders, A Gadsby, C L Bradfield, and H Abrams, and the choir members present included Mr W T L Flood, Councillor J Allen, and Mr S C Brightwell. Councillors J Spencer J.P., and C Claridge were present, besides Mr J T Colson and Mr John Wilmott, both from Chelveston, Mr W Desborough from Irchester, and Mr S L Hunt of the Higham Ferrers Baptist Mission. Deceased had been a life-long abstainer and the Rushden Temperance Society was represented by Messrs J T Bettles, B Vorley, and T C Clark. An old employee of the Co-operative Society under deceased who was present was Mr Inglesby.

Mr J Lindsay Clipson, A.R.C.O., was at the organ, and the hymns were “Give me the wings of faith” and “Rock of Ages” (a favourite of the deceased).

Mr Sutherland said he had found a parallel for their dear old friend Mr Darnell in the New Testament character Simeon. Both lived to a great age and outlived their generation, but he made the parallel not because of that, but because of certain qualities present in both characters. Neither, in his old age, confined his thoughts to the past, but both had a great hope, the privilege of all Christian men and women. A healthy restlessness in Mr Darnell was exemplified in a statement he once made that he would never be satisfied till he “awoke in God”. Of both Simeon and their old friend and brother it could be said that “he was just and the spirit of the Lord was upon him”. Of Mr Darnell they could say that his walk with men was upright and his walk with God was humble. They knew him as a man of the highest honour and integrity, as shown by his work in the positions he occupied. He was pioneer of the Rushden Co-operative movement, which was started so that the need and desire of working people to have the commodities of life under the best available conditions could be met, and in whose formation some other members of the Baptist Church had much to do. Those who wanted the thing done justly chose Mr Darnell as the first manager, and he served in that way to his great honour. As Simeon was devout, so was Mr Darnell, and many who knew him more intimately in connection with the worship in that church were always impressed by his devoutness. They felt especially, when he was there a month or two ago and led them in prayer and took Holy Communion, that the Holy Spirit was with him. He was deeply read in the New Testament Scriptures and was especially fond of the Letter to the Ephesians. In his private life he walked humbly with God. Now his heart was satisfied and he had gone to the House of God. The Church and its community had sustained a great loss, but Mr Darnell had always been present with them, in person or in spirit, and they felt his presence still.

The family mourners were Mr and Mrs W H Darnell (son and daughter-in-law), Mr and Mrs F S Knight (son-in-law and daughter), Mrs Mustill, of Northampton (granddaughter), and Mr Mustill, Mr F W Knight (grandson) and Mrs Knight, Mrs G Bayes, of Leamington (granddaughter), Mr G Pettit, of Finedon (nephew), Mrs S Arthurs, and Miss Dora Darnell (nieces).

The wreaths were as follow:

In loving memory of dead Dad, from Will and Annie.

In loving memory of father and granddad, Annie and Fred, Fred and Sarah, Mabel and George.

In ever-loving memory of grandad, Flo, Ted, and Ronald.

In fond remembrance of dear granddad, from Fred, Edie, and family, Winipeg, Canada.

In ever-loving and tender memory of dear grandad, from Jessie and Charles; also with love to great-grandad, from David and Richard.

In loving memory, from Cyril.

In loving memory of granddad, from Harry, Flo and Peter.

In loving memory of great-grandad, from Edie, “Rock of Ages”.

With fondest love, to dear great-grandpa, Margaret, I.O.W.

With love, from Rose. “Divine Love always has met and always will meet every human need”.

From the minister and deacons, Park-road Baptist Church, Rushden. “Absent from the body, present with the Lord”.

A tribute of respect and esteem, from the workers in the Park-road Baptist Sunday School.

The family of the late Mr David Darnell wish to thank all their friends for the sympathy shown to them.

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