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Mrs. Betts of Knotting Green
Veteran Wesleyan’s Death – A Bedfordshire Worthy – A Life Well Lived

A long life well spent, has been brought to a close in the death, which took place on Saturday last, of Mrs. Betts, of Knotting Green, widow of the late Mr. Jesse Betts. The deceased, who had reached the ripe old age of 86 years, retained her faculties to the end, and her memory was remarkably vivid. Almost all her life, Mrs. Betts, like her husband, was connected with the Wesleyan Methodist Church, and since Mr. Betts’s death some years ago she had ably carried out the duties of society steward of the Knotting Green Wesleyan Chapel. Mr. Fred Betts, florist of Rushden, is a son of the late Mr. and Mrs. Betts, and Mr. Jesse Betts, of Sharnbrook, is another son.

Mr. W. E. Capon, of Rushden, in an article in the “Methodist Times,” published last year gives a fine “appreciation” of the late Mrs. Betts, as follows:-

The story of a village Methodist chapel is a tale that is often told, but the love and devotion with which the few faithful souls serve Methodism in rural places can never be adequately portrayed.

One such soul for whose life of service and consecration Methodism is the richer is Mrs. Harriett Betts, of Knotting Green, a village in the Higham Ferrers Circuit. The village consists oif but twenty houses and two farms, with another village half a mile distant of about the same size.

Born on December 6, 1830, the subject of our sketch thus attained her eighty-fifth birthday just before Christmas, 1915. Her conversion dates back to 1848.

For sixty-six years the Methodist flag has been flying in the village, a house being opened for services by a Mr. William Hodby (some year or so since passed to his reward). In 1839 the services were transferred to the house of Mrs. Betts, and since that date this “Mother in Israel” has never ceased to work for Methodism.

In 1866, a society was formed at Knotting and in September of that year, Mrs. Betts received her “On trial” ticket: this is still in the old lady’s keeping—a beloved possession—and it may be added all her membership tickets have been equally well preserved. The services continued to be held in the house of Mrs. Betts, the congregation numbering oft-time between thirty and forty, the people coming from many villages and hamlets around.

To hear of the pudding boiling on the fire whilst service was being conducted seems strange to our ears, but the older friends who were privileged to be present at these services never weary in telling of the great spiritual feasts of which they partook.

In the old days the people of the village often came to Mrs. Betts for her to write their letters. When Mrs. Betts was married her husband was unable to read, and the book out of which the late Mr. Betts first learned to read was the Bible.

After the Society was formed the children of the village continued to go to Sunday-school at Riseley, a village several miles distant, but in 1874 Mrs. Betts’s daughters commenced a school themselves in the old homestead.

The little cause continued to prosper insomuch that in 1888 a chapel was erected. The bricks and stones were indeed “well and truly laid” as the prayers of this and other saints of God ascended the throne of grace for prosperity in Zion.

Like many another village chapel, Knotting has had its ups and downs, but since the day the door was opened for the first time there have never been wanting a few faithful souls to gather for worship.

The membership of the church may be counted on the hand, but the Society always sends its quota to the Circuit Fund, Foreign Missions, Home Missions, and Local Preachers’ Mutual Aid and other Connexional collections receive their due consideration.

It is nearly six years since Mr. Betts passed to his reward; it was a great trial to his wife, but it was borne with Christian fortitude. The duties of poor steward, chapel steward, and society steward are all discharged by Mrs. Betts at the present time. Regularly the collections are entered in the collecting journal, seat rents are also collected as they become due, accounts for lighting, heating, cleaning are kept. Announcements for the pulpit are written by her own hand, and the emblems for the Sacrament are likewise prepared, the preparation of them being to Mrs. Betts a sacrament in itself.

The house is always open for Methodists, there is always a wod of welcome, a smile, a handshake. To know Mrs. Betts is to love her, to meet her is to feel it’s worth while.

Eighty-five and still in possession of all faculties, at service twice on Sunday, weather permitting, sixty-right years spent in service for God, is indeed a record of which anyone might be justly proud.

The Funeral

Of the late Mrs. Betts took place on Tuesday, the whole of the parish mourning the loss of one who had the esteem of all who knew her. A short service was held at the house, the Rev. H. Long, superintendent of the Higham Ferrers Wesleyan circuit, and the Rev. H. S. Southall, of Rushden, officiating.

The mourners were: Mr. and Mrs. Jesse Betts, of Sharnbrook, son and daughter-in-law; Mr. and Mrs. Fred Betts, of Rushden, son and daughter-in-law; Mr. and Mrs. A. Brown, of Farndish, son-in-law and daughter; Mr. Charles Sawford, of Rushden, and Mrs. Wooding, of Aylesbury, brother and sister; Mrs. Sawford, of Bedford; and Mr. Stanley Bosward, friend.

The Higham Ferrers Wesleyan circuit were represented by Alderman and Mrs. Thomas Patenall (Mayor and Mayoress of Higham Ferrers), Miss I. L. Scott (Rushden), and Messrs. W. J. Cure, W. E. Capon and W. P. Orrell (Rushden).

Practically the whole of the village people were present at the interment, which took place in the churchyard at Knotting, the Rector (the Rev. F. E. M. Girling) officiating. The burial service was said in the church, and a hymn was sung. The rev. H. S. Southall, Mr. Cure, Mr. Capon, and Mr. Orrell acted as bearers from the church to the graveside. The coffin bore the inscription:

Died January 13th 1917,
Aged 86 years.

Mr. Wallis, of Souldrop, was the undertaker. The wreaths bore the following inscriptions:-

In loving memory of Mother, from her children, Harriett, Eliza, Jess and Fred.

In loving memory, from the neighbours and friends at Knotting Green.

Kind remembrance and deep sympathy from Emma and Ruth.

In loving memory, from F. and L. Bosworth.

In loving memory, from Miss Scott, Mr. and Mrs. W. P. Orrell, and Mr. and Mrs. W. R. Capon.

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