An Account of His Life by William Witt, 1814-1902
|Last entry 1867. Includes a journal (pages 8-11) of his family's voyage to a new life in Van Diemen's Land|
I have for some time past, had it in my mind
| William Witt, born in the year 1814 January 31st, in
the Parish of St Botolph, Bishopgate Street, London,
the Son of William Witt, Wine Merchant, in the same City,
he was the eldest son, but had four Sisters older than
himself, two sisters and four brothers younger, making
in all, eleven children of the same family, eight of which
are at present living, the two last brothers, dying when
young. The first seven or eight years of his life he was under
the direct care of a tender and good Mother; (who is now in
a better world,) and up to this time was of a lively disposition,
but about this period, he was playing with other children
near Spitalfields Church, and in looking down, into the vaults,
beneath the Church, they thought they saw a Ghost, (which
was indeed, only the whited wall,) which gave them a great
fright, some of them went into fits, WWitt, was also so
alarmed, that he could not sleep that night, but his kind
and loving Father, sat by his bedside, endeavouring to calm
and sooth his affrighted son. From this time he became
very nervous and fearful; and for a long time after, could
not bear to pass a Church yard, and the thoughts of Death
was painful to him. After this he went to Boarding school,
Mr Low’s, at Barkway, in Hertfordshire; Mr Low was
a Dissenting Minister; very kind, and looked well to the
|morals of his pupils; here, a few happy years past away
for Mrs and Miss Low, made it their study, to make us comfort-
able and happy, but still, those serious thoughts and impressions
continued to follow him, tho he did all he could to shake
them off. (was not this the Spirit of God, striving with him?
I believe it was.) He was, after this, removed to a
Boarding school, nearer home, to Mr Crabbs, Belmont
House, Turnham Green, near Hammersmith; but not
being very apt at learning, and his Master being so
severe with him, which treatment did not suit his temper,
he became hardened by repeated correction, and every
bad passion of the human mind was aroused in him
and brought into action, and he, losing sight of the
future, made up his mind not to pay any attention
to his studies, his schemes were often laid to make
his escape from such a place of torment, but as often
detected; in the holidays, he made his statement to
his beloved Mother, to intercede for his removal but
his Father thinking it was only an excuse to get
away from school; took no further notice of it. The
time came for him to go back; and back he went
with a heavey heart. Other means were now resorted
to by him, to get away; a Letter was ready to send home, but
this also was discovered, and he punished; the next, and
most wicked plan, was to make himself ill, which plan
succeeded; paper and cork were eaten by him, and other
things equally as injurious to the health & constitution,
he was, afterwards taken very unwell, evidently ripening
for some disease, which turned out the small pox;
he went home, was blind with the disease for some
days, and a long time recovering from such a loathsome
sickness; and through the long suffering mercy and goodness
of God, his life was spared, and I trust to show forth
His praise. He has since, often mourned over his youthful sins
and folley, and can hardly forgive himself, tho he feels they
|are all forgiven through faith in his Saviour, Jesus Christ.
He was now sent to a Day school at Winchmore Hill,
near to his Father’s Cottage, his eldest sister having the charge
of it at that time, and who was truly devoted to God; she
continued to watch over him with tender solicitude, for his
spiritual good; he being at this time under deep conviction
of sin, but like many other young persons; endeavoured
to persuade himself, that, there was, time enough, yet,
to think about religion, but the good hand of his God
was upon him, and through the instrumentality of this
beloved sister; serious impressions were deepened.
He continued to go with her, to most of the means
of Grace, both public and private; in returning home
one evening, from the means, they were in deep con-
versation upon spiritual things, he remembers, saying
to his sister; “O sister, it is a hard thing, to be a Christian”.
(since that time, he has proved that it is a life of continual
warfare, but, that grace, is alsufficient.) Mr Pawling
his school Master, who was also a Minister; was exceedingly
kind to him, and upon inquirey, found he had been
wrongley treated at his last school; he now felt it keenly
himself, knowing his time for improvement was short,
he having soon to enter upon his Apprenticeship; but
what time he had left, he made the best use of it.
(This beloved Sister, is now the Wife of one of our most
zealous and devoted Missionaries, Revd John Smithies, at
this present at Swan River, 1844.)
He was bound an, Apprentice in the fourteen year of his age, to Mr Elisha Wilson,
Hatter, Citizen and Haberdasher of London, March 2nd 1828,
but was turned over to his Father, to follow the Wine Trade; only
being bound to Mr. E. Wilson, to become a member of the Haberdashers
Company; and at the end of the Seven years, he had the
|happiness of receiving from the hands of the Wardens of
the Company, the right and title, to all the privileges
of a Freeman and Liveryman, of the City of London,
and this Company, in the presence of Mr Elisha Wilson
and his Father, the seventh day of July 1835.
( Copy of Receipt )
Received the seventh of July 1835, of Mr William Witt
the sum of Twenty-seven Pounds, Eight Shillings, and
is in full for his Livery Fine and Fees on coming
on the Cloathing of the Worshipful Company of
Signed, Hambly Knapp,
Livery Fine 25 " – " – Clerk.
Fees ----- 2 " 8 " –
£27 " 8 " –
The Motto, on the “Coat of Arms,” of the above Company, is,
“Serve, and, Obey”
It was in this year, 1828, that he was brought to a
saving knowledge of the Truth, at a prayer meeting
held in the vestry of Spitalfields Chapel, conducted by
Revd John Smithies, it was a time of great spiritual
searching of heart before the Lord; the large table
in that room, was surrounded by Penitents, calling
upon God, to have mercy upon them, through Christ;
and it was upon this sacred spot he, with many
others, were enabled to cast their souls, by Faith
on the “Atoning Lamb”, and arose from their knees
rejoicing and praising the God, of, their salvation.
He might well adopt the following language, and say,
O happy day that fix’d my choice
On thee, my Saviour and my God!
Well may this glowing heart rejoice
And tell its raptures all abroad.
| He was now introduced by his Sister Hannah, to Mr Wm
Merry, to take charge of him as a member of his Class,
and many have been the precious seasons enjoyed by
him, at these means of Grace.
For a length of time he went on his way rejoicing,
and engaged in some departments of the work of God,
such as, a Tract distributor, and prayer Leader, and truly
his heart was in the work. some time after this his Mother
principally resided at the Cottage, Winchmore Hill, on account
of her health, his Father going down in the evening, and returning
in the morning to business; so that the duties of the family
devolved upon him, and, he took up the cross in the strength
of Divine Grace, altho with fear and trembling; knowing
that the path of duty, is the path of safety; thus, family
worship was kept up, and the blessing of God, rested
upon them. some time after this he was called upon,
to part with his beloved Sister Hannah; she was sent
out by the Missionary Committee, to Newfoundland; and
there united in Marriage to Revd Jno Smithies, were [sic]
they laboured for some years, with great success.
He was now, as it were, left alone, and being but young
both in years, and spiritual life, many were the temptations
and allurements with sin; for a season he continued
steadfast in the Faith, and as long, as, he kept looking
to Jesus, he was safe. – O, that he had continued to look;
he would have saved himself much grief and pain, which
he afterwards suffered through, yealding to temptation. –
His cousin, who, was his fellow apprentice, was a very
dissipated, wicked young man, and succeeded, by carnal
reasoning, and fair speeches, to draw him in also, into the
snare of the Devil; (but the Triumph, of the wicked, is short.)
It is impossible for words to discribe the feelings of his
heart at this time; shorne of his strength, and seeking happiness
were it was not to be found. The Theatre, and other places
|of amusements were resorted to by him, but without success;
every pleasure, (so called) had its sting. he had nearly
fallen, also, into the deadly sin of intemperance, but the
kind hand of his God, was sill [sic] upon him, his convictions
for sin, were keen and sharp, and he indeed, felt, that there
is no happiness out of Christ. (O, what a mercy it is;
the Lord is so forebearing with His creations, especially, when
they sin against light and truth.) He now through,
Grace, gave his heart afresh to God, and was determined
“let others do as they will, as for him, he would serve the
Lord,” “choosing rather, to suffer affliction, with the people
of God, than enjoy the pleasures of sin, for a season.”
Family worship was again restored, and with it domestic
happiness; also, peace and joy, through believing in Jesus.
His Cousin Wm D - - - - - - - - , who had led him into so much
sin and misery, now became an object of his solicitude, and
prayers, endeavouring to set before him a good example, proving
to him, that Religious ways, are ways of pleasantness and peace.
when he was out of his apprenticeship, he did not stay long
with my Father, and shortly after married a Widow, and
was not long married, when a violent Fever seased [sic] him
and was hurried into an aweful Eternity, without
leaving any, Testimony behind him. – This is another proof
of the uncertainty of human life; and the necessity there is, of a
continual life of Faith on the Son of God.
In the beginning of the year 1832 He was in the habit of visting [sic] a very
respectable Family Mr H - - -g’s near St Georges in the east; some of them
were members of the Wesleyan Society, but the young Lady
upon whom he had fixed his choice, was not a decided person
in the ways of religion; here conscience spoke out again, he
had not sufficiently thought upon, or prayed about such an
important subject, but now through mercy, seeing his error,
he began to pray for Divine protection and guidance, in
this, and every future time of need, and the Lord soon made
a way for his escape, so that nothing but pure friendship
|existed between the two families; and time has proved
that she was not the one, to be his partner in life; but the
Lord in great mercy, chose out one of His own family, who
has been in every respect suited for him, sharing with him,
all the troubles of life, as well as all domestic happiness which
increases with time; God blessing them with a happy rising
family; and now, after the experience of elven [sic] years in the
marriage state, he only has to bless and praise his Heavenly
Father, for such a union of kindred spirits.
It was 4th July 1832, that he was first introduced to
Miss Harriet Hannah Merry, (the sister of his Class Leader,
Mr Wm Merry;) going to the Anniversary of Chingford Chapel,
and this acquaintance soon ripened into love and affection for
each other, their courtship, was a season of great spiritual good,
and Christian communion, and they knew what it was, to love
each other in the Lord, and were determined, by Grace assisting
them, that no outward circumstances, should interfere with their
personal happiness. thus time passed quickly away; and on
the seventh day of October 1833, their Marriage was
solemnized in the Parish Church of St Botolph, Bishopgate,
in the City of London, by Revd Knox Child. The remainder
of the day was spent at the Cottage, Winchmore Hill, with the
united families, and a happy day it was. The next
morning they set off for a week’s Tour, to Hearn Bay, Ramsgate,
Margate &c; and then returned home, took charge of the family
and business, in Skinner St., London. Some time after this,
his Father, took a Licensed house a few doors from their present dwelling
and which had been a great nuisance for many years; the house
was very large and commodious, and it was thought it might
be turned to good account; he wished his son William, to manage
it according to his own will; the attempt was made by him,
circulars sent round the neighbourhood to inform them of the
fact, also to state that the “Skinners Arms,” would not be
opened on the Sabbath; this was indeed a great reformation,
turning a house, from a Den of Thieves, to a respectable Inn;
the Neighbours greatly rejoiced at the change, and endeavoured
|to encourage him in so laudable an undertaking; but after
a trial of twelve months, he found it too much for his health
and spirits; the continual scene of Dram drinking, (though
in such an orderly house,) affected his heart keenly, especially
when he thought upon the future destiny of his fellow creatures
he now resolved to get out of it as soon as possible, but every
way, for a season, appeared to be blocked up; about this
time his Sister Smithies returned from Newfoundland
on a visit, and was surprised to find her brother thus
engaged, the reasons were explained, and his views for
the future. he had some thoughts of trying after a Temperance
Hotel, but it was ultimately settled to go to Hobart Town
Van Diemen’s Land. --- The parting with families and friends
was a severe stroke, but they left their native Land, with
the united prayers of the Church, and Friends; having them
-selves a firm trust and confidence in an all wise and
gracious Providence; knowing that, “the promises are
yea & amen, to them that believe,”.
| --- Extracts from his journal, commencing
time he left England for Hobart Town, V.D.L. -----
Friday, Octr 7th, 1836. Left home, took boat for Gravesend,
reached there in the evening; came on board the “Royal George”.
Sunday 9th. Set sail from Gravesend, came as far as the
lower hope, five miles from Gravesend, here we anchored, again
it has been a day of great confusion, some of the passengers
playing, others singing songs: we had a good prayer meeting
this evening, with our two Missionaries, Revd Jno Weatherstone,
and Revd W. Blyth, and their wives; were a little disturbed
by some on board.
Tuesday 11th. Captn Richards came on board this morning,
weighed anchor, came as far as Whitstable Bay, cast anchor
for the night, our little Alice had a fit, but soon got better.
Wednesday 12th. Set sail from Whitstable, came off Margate,
cast anchor, wind against us, this day we had the unexpect
|-ed pleasure of seeing our friend, Mr C Gloyen, who, came
on board, and staied with us a short time.
Octr 13th and 14th. Still off Margate, wind strong & boisterouse, the baby
and Harriet very unwell; Captn Howell, came on board to see us,
prayed, and left a short text with us, - “Look to Jesus.”
Octr 16th. Sunday, had service on board; a most lovely morning,
but a fog came in, which hid our Native land from our view;
and perhaps for ever, the will of the Lord, be done.
Octr 22nd. Our dear babe still very unwell, had two fits to day.
Octr 23rd. It has been a day of trouble, little Alice very bad has had
more fits, put her into a warm sea water bath, and a blister put
upon the back of her neck. Revd Jno Weatherstone preached to day, it
was a good time to our souls.
Octr 24th. Had a good time at Class, today, we meet in the
Missionaries Cabin, as often as possible for prayer &c; feel
we stand in need of Divine support on board Ship, surrounded
by ungodly men.
Octr 27th. Fresh troubles to day; my dear Harriet miscarried
at 8 Oclock, but through mercy I hope she will do well, our
little Alice, much better.
Octr 29th. In sight of Madeira, passed it in the evening,
a little sport among the passengers, shooting at Birds &c.
my dear Wife a little better.
Novr 1st. Our dear babe has had six strong fits to day, many
of our fellow passengers are very kind, by their attentions to us
in our afflictions.
Novr 2. The babe a little better, had one fit to day, and
another blister on the back of her neck, and the Mother
still very unwell.
Novr 5. My mind has been deeply afflicted to day, our
child not expected to live, but the Lord, is our support
under all troubles.
Novr 10th. This morning at 4 Oclock, the dear babe had another
severe fit, which lasted till 9 Oclock, put her into a warm
sea water bath, to all appearance she cannot last out much
longer; may the Lord prepare our minds for all the
dispensations of His Providence.
|Novr 12. This morning our dear little sufferer
four more fits, very strong.
Novr 13. Our dear babe much worse to day, was in a fit from
half past 10 Oclock to two in the afternoon, expected every
moment to be her last; it has been a day of great trial,
but the Lord is good, who will not put more upon us, than we
are able to bear.
Novr 16th. This morning at halfpast twelve Oclock, our Sister
Sarah Blanch, was confined with a fine Boy; Neptune came
on board to day which caused a little fun on Deck, water
flying about in all directions, but we kept below; this
evening we had a blessed season, whilst, commemorating
the dying love of our Saviour, in the Missionaries Cabin.
Novr 20th. Sunday. This has been a good day to my soul,
had service on the Quarter Deck, the Bell tolling, to call
the sailors together; Mr Lyth, preached.
Decr 3rd. To day my dear Harriet, proposed, that we
should set apart, a few moments every day, to pray together
in secret, especially for our babe, for its restoration to health,
or, for resignation to the Divine will.
Decr 14th. This day the Lord has given me strength, to take
up my cross, in leading our Class for the first time in my
life, it was a refreshing season; O for more faith, that we
may live, His name to glorify.
Decr 20th. In sight of the Cape of good Hope, anchored
in Table Bay about seven Oclock in the evening.
Decr 21st. Went on shore this morning, felt truly greatful
for another opportunity of setting our feet on land, again;
we visited the three Vineyards, at Constantia, the
Settlers showed us great kindness.
Decr 23rd. Set sail from the Cape, this day, to proceed
on our voyage to Hobart Town, V.D.L. .
Decr 31st. Becalmed, part of the day, but in the evening
worse than a Storm; it being the last day of the year
some had assembled themselves together, below, to drink
and sing; the Captain speaking about the noise, put
Mr Hector in a passion, who came up and struck the
Captain, all was now confusion, the watch was called
and ordered to put Mr H. in his own cabin; the
|cause of this sad disturbance, was, strong
a very sad way this, in closing the year, when will
men be wise, to think of their latter end? .
Jany 1st. 1837. Sunday, We have been permitted to
see the commencement of a new year, may our future
lives show forth His praise.
Jany 4th. A strong gale all day, the sea running
mountains high; but through mercy, the Ship is keep
-ing her right course.
Jany 5th. Praise God, who, hath brought us through
the Storm, in fafety, with a very little damage to the
Ship; had a good time at Class to day; and our
dear little Alice, getting on nicely.
Feby 1st. Fine weather, good sailing, the last Class meeting
we expect to have on board, it was a good time to all of
Feby 3rd. Much rain, wind moderate, shortened sail
at night, being not far from land.
Feby 4th. Praise God; this day brought us in sight of
land, all in high spirits.
Feby 5th. Sunday, the Pilot came on board this morning
about seven Oclock, the scenery coming up the river Derwent
was most beautiful, and to hear the Anchor let go, to
pronounce the voyage ended, we did well to thank
God, and take courage, trusting in Him who has brought
us so far on our journey through life. – The Revd Wm
Butters came on board, to take Messrs Weatherstone
and Lyth, with their Wives, to the Mission House, when I was
introduced to him by them, and he kindly offered to find
a bed for us among the friends, after taking tea at
the Mission House; we went into the Chapel, we all
felt it good to be there, especially at the Holy sacrament,
among a united people, and my prayer is, that their
God should be my God. ------ Voyage ended. 122 days.
|Feby 8th. 1837 Mr Mortimer has kindly let us have
little Cottage, near his house, to put our goods in, until
we get settled in Hobart Town.
Feby 10th. This day by the blessing of God we begin
the world afresh, with £10. – in a Foreign land, six
-teen Thousands miles from our native land, and
beloved friends; the Lord bless our little, [sic] and
increase our faith.
March 6th. My brother in law, John Blanch, opened
his shop to day, and by me putting in the Goods I brought
out, I am to receive a small share of the profits.
Sunday, July 9th. At the Love feast this evening, in the
strength of Divine grace, I declared before my brethren
what God, had done for my soul, and how, in mercy
He had brought me to this part of His vineyard, it
was a refreshing season.
July 14th. Went this evening to hear a Lecture on Tem
-perance; in the Court house, by the Revd H. Dowling,
(of Launceston) I went in the strength of Grace, to
subscribe my name to the Pledge, to help forward
the good cause, both by example and precept.
Pledge, We agree to abstain from distilled spirits
except for medicinal purposes, and to discountenance
the causes, and practices of intemperance.
Decr 26th. The corner stone of our new Chapel, was
laid, by Sir John Frankling, (Governor) and our
Sunday school children met to day, for their annual
feast, Gracious God, grant us more wisdom, to
train them up for Glory.
Janry 2nd. 1838 This day our second child was born
much cause for gratitude to our Heavenly Father,
for His great mercies towards us, on Feby 4th he
was baptised (William) by the Revd J. Orton, O may
he be dedicated to the Lord, from his youth, up.
Febry 10th. For some time past, business has been very
bad with us, the last week, most trying, but in our
extremity, the Lord raised up friends, to help us out of
|our present dificualties; [sic] O Lord still
to help, and comfort us, be thou the Guide of our
youth, and to Thy great name will we give all
Febry 12th. Another change in my life; this day
I have entered upon my new occupation, at Mr
Murdock’s Store. O Lord keep me in all my
future steps, for Thou only knowest, what is best
April 21st. This week we have closed all our accounts
in connection with our late business, and in the short
space of a few months, we have lost our all, as regards
this world, but the Lord be praised, His grace has
been sufficient for us.
May 4th. This morning I and brother Blanch, went on
board the Isabella, and to our very great pleasure, found
our Brother and Sister Martin, with their four little ones
all in good health, and thankful to Him, who has
brought them to these shores in safety, through dangers
seen and unseen.
July 11th. Went this morning to the Revd J. Orton,
to open my mind freely to him respecting my circumstances
and religious scruples about the Spirit Trade; felt my
mind greatly relieved by his kind advice.
Augt 9th. The Lord has begun to open a way for me,
in such a manner as I could not expect, When I think
of the dealings of a Divine Providence, with me, I feel
humbled and thankful.
Augt 18th. This evening I was called upon to lead our
Class meeting, in the strength of Grace I did so, feeling
indeed my own weakness, but the desire of my soul, is,
to use my humble talants [sic] in the cause of God, and if I am
called, in the order of Providence, to fill such an important
and responsible office, in the Church of Christ, I do, feel confident
that He can and will qualify, tho, the most unworthy, for
such a charge; O Lord take full possesion of my heart
and guide me, by Thy good Spirit, Amen.
|Sept. 5th. This evening I was examined by the
J Orton, upon points of Doctrin [sic] &c, before my brethren
the Class Leaders, and was unanimously received as an
Officer in that capacity, into the Church of Christ. It is
quite impossible to discribe my feelings, on the occasion, but
thanks be to our God who brought me through; and grant
that I may be a pillar in His house, to go no more out
for ever. Amen.
Octr 1st. I have this day commenced my new undertaking
at the Stores of Mr John Murdock, Wine Merchant &c.
Janry 31st. 1839 The Lord has graciously spared me to
see this day, the Five and Twentieth anniversary of my birth
day; my soul has been deeply humbled before Him, at
the recollection of past mercies; may the residue of my days,
be all devoted unto Him.
Febry 1st. Arrived this day, Mr & Mrs Waterhouse and family
also, other Missionaries with him. (? James) [This could be
“Ps James” or “for James” difficult to read].
Febry 5th. Circumstances of a trying nature; have transpired
within the last few days, with my employer, I know not
at present, how things may turn out; but my trust is in
God, if one door shuts, another will be opened.
April 3rd. Within the last week, I have taken councel [sic] of
the Revd J. Waterhouse, and other friends, respecting my
circumstances, on account of the faileour [sic] of my present
employer, J.M. and it is their unanimouse [sic] opinion, with
the blessing of God, that I might do well in the Trade
to which I was brought up, (the Wine Trade.)
April 5th. This morning at Family prayer, I felt an unusual
sensation when reading the Chaptr for the occasion, which
was the Twentieth Dutmy, especially those words, “For the
Lord thy God is with thee.” I went out in the strength of
this, my faith being in lively exercise, and praying I might
be kept from doubts & fear.
April 18th. Removed from the Stores, of J.W.M —
to a house in Murray Street.
April 22nd. I have this day, by the blessing of
God, made another start in business; (Wine, Ale,
|& Porter Merchants; Spirits excepted.) had
orders to begin with; O Lord, give me grace, to
withstand every temptation, and go through things
temporal, with an eye to those, that, are eternal.
many good friends, have been raised up for me, by
the kind Providence of my God.
June 7th. Through mercy my beloved Harriet, was
brought to bed, this night at 11 Oclock, of a lovely Daughter.
O Lord our God, may the increase of our family,
be attended, with an increase of spiritual life & blessings.
June 10th. The Lord has been better unto me, than all
my doubts & fears, I have great cause for gratitude,
may I continue to acknowledge Him in all my ways,
that He may direct my steps.
Augt 4th. Our old friend, Revd Jno Waterhouse,
baptised our daughter, “Elizabeth,” a very solemn and
impressive time, Lord increase our faith & strength, that
we may bring up our little ones, to know, love, and
Augt 22nd. This day we have paid our last respects, to
the mortal remains, of our young friend, Mrs R. Shoobridge,
who died last Sunday morning, very suddenly, (aged 19 years)
our dear friend Richard, is greatly supported by Divine Grace,
under this painful berievement; they have been married
only, eighteen months. --- O Lord, our God, our, Heavenly Father
may we live more than ever to they glory, that we may be found
ready to meet the Bridegroom, at a moments warning. O Jesus,
we rejoice to know, we have such a great High Priest and Friend
in Heaven, as Thou art; there may we meet our friends, that
have gone before; to love and praise Thee, for ever and ever.
Octr 7th. This day is the sixth anniversary of our Wedding, I have
felt it a very solemn time, in looking back upon the past, and
praying God, for his continual care and blessing upon all
our future movements; and that we may continue one, in
the Lord for ever.
|Octr 25th. The celebration of the Centenary of
was observed throughout the world, this day, we had a prayer
meeting, morning and noon; and a social Tea meeting
in the evening, in the new Chapel, after which, Revd Waterhouse,
Eggleston, and others, address’d the meeting, which was very
interesting; all present, appeared happy. O Lord our God,
hear and answer the ten thousands of prayers of thy people,
which have come up before Thy Throne, this day, through
the Son of Thy love, especially for the outpouring of Thy holy
Spirit; that the world may be speedily converted to Thee.
Decr 27th. This day has been one of great trouble and affliction,
in hearing of the aweful death of our dear Sister Sarah, and
of her husband, John Blanch, (Melbourne, P.Philip) their house
being blown up by Gunpowder, which accident happened, on
the 17th of this month, the three dear children were out at the
time, with the nurse. Severe and sudden as this stroke is,
the Lord has wonderfully supported me under it; I now feel
and prove, that religion, is not a cunningly devised fable; but, that
it is my only refuge and consolation, strength and grace, is
given me in rich abundance, so that I shall not sink under
the accumulated weight of sorrow. O God my heavenly
Father, may this aweful visitation of thy Providence, be
sanctified to every member of our families, especially to
the unconverted; so that we may make sure work for
Eternity, through our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen.
April 27th, 1840. I have this day arrived at home, in
peace and safety, from my voyage to Port Philip; being absent
five weeks; truly goodness and mercy, hath followed me all the
days of my life, but especially so, during my late journey; I
have passed through much trouble in connection with my affairs
at Melbourne, and my property which was saved from the fire,
I could not lay claim to it, as I expected, but to all appearances
shall have to suffer further loss. I leave myself, with
all my concerns in the hands of my Heavenly Father, believing
that, all things shall work together for my good. The Wesleyan
friends at Melbourne, were exceedingly kind to me, during
my stay there, which was a great relief to my mind, under
|A few reasons why I wish to relinquish the Wine
Trade. 1st Because, after the lapse of fifteen years, Christian
experience; thinking and praying much upon the subject, I still
feel I cannot enter into the spirit of my business, it having such
an evil tendancy; [sic] the excess of which lowers a man far beneath
the brute creation.
2nd Because, man must live for ever, either in a state of
happiness or misery; and it is written in God’s holy word, that no
drunkard shall enter into the kingdom of Heaven. Therefore I
do not wish to excite that passion which leads to so much sin
3rd Because, I believe them, not to be necessary or essential to the
happiness or comfort of any individual; but when the bounds of
moderation are passed, they become injurious to the health of
the Body, and spiritual Death to the Soul.
4th Because, my children are growing up into life; I pray
therefore, I may set before them a good example, my business
corresponding with my Christian profession. also by example
and precept, to show unto them the beauties of real heartfelt
religion, and to keep them out of the way of those temptations
which are incident to my present calling. also because I pray
and desire, that all may come to the knowledge of the truth, as
it is in Jesus, and be saved from all sin, which they cannot
do, as long as they continue to indulge in the excess of wine.
Decr 31st 1844. My mind now being quite made up, upon this subject,
it soon became known, and several parties applied to me for the
terms &c; but after letting it to two persons, both of which went from
their bargain, it fell to the lot of Wm Elliott Esqr, Merchant, who
took possession on 17th day of March 1845. so that from this period
I have been free from my late business, and I pray for ever. --
Febry 1845. I took a house a little lower down in Elizabeth Street
and opened in the Grocery line, called it, “Providence House,” and
in the fear of the Lord, made another start in life, feeling assured
“all things work together for good to them that love God”. And for
a season all things went on prosperouse [sic], but my faith had yet
to be put to the test, which after circumstances will prove, I shall
therefore copey [sic] them from the loose papers they are entered upon,
as they occurred [sic].
July 1st. Signed the Pledge at Temperance Hall; the Revd
H. Dowling, spoke at some length on the real benefits of total
abstinence from all intoxicating drinks: but, I had been a total
abstainer, not only from my moderate glass, but also, from Tobacco,
some time prior to my leaving my late business.
Sept 23rd. This evening, for the first time in my life I made
an attempt to say a few words before a public assembly, at
|Temperance Hall, Bathurst Street; briefly
stating my reasons
for relinquishing my late business (the Wine Trade) and firm
conviction of the goodness of the cause, to endeavour to reclaim
poor drunkards, and benefit both soul and body: I felt more
liberty than I expected, in bearing my humble testimony.
Septr 27th. Had some refreshing and cheering thoughts, about Heaven.
Septr 29th. Monday. much tried in business; but in the evening had a
good season at the prayer meeting. God is love.
Septr 30th. Perplexed, but not in despair; endeavouring to live by faith,
having a firm trust in the God of Providence, notwithstanding, things
continue to go contrary.
Octr 1st. Wednesday. Fightings without and fears within, but a good
time at preaching in the evening, every word appeared to be for
Octr 2nd. Fresh trials; also fresh Grace; a person by the name of
“Booth”, left the Colony unawares, in debt, by whom I have lost con-
siderably. A very profitable Quarterly meeting of the Leaders and
afterward in the evening; all harmony and love.
Octr 7th. A solemn fast, to pray for the outpouring of the Holy
Spirit, upon us, as a people; a searching time at the six Oclock prayer
meeting in the morning, and again at seven Oclock in the evening.
Octr 20th. Since the last date, many and severe, have been my trials
of a worldly nature, but I have endeavoured to look up for Faith,
patience, and resignation: and have not been left by my Heavenly
Octr 23rd. I have this day closed up my accounts, with Wm Lindsay
Esqr , who stood my friend in my late trouble, by advancing the
necessary amount; he expressed himself in pleasing terms,
as to my conduct, throughout the business; which deeply humbled
me in the dust, before my Heavenly Father, that He should
have given me such grace, to exemplify the Christian
character before the world: O that I may only live to
reflect my Makers glory, and then pass into the world
of happy spirits; through the merits of my Redeemer.
Novr 4th. I feel truly thankful that my mind is kept in peace,
in the midst of trouble; my prayers are registered on high and
answers of peace will be granted, in the name of Jesus. O for
more gratitude, for the rich consolations of His grace.
My way appears to be edged up on every side, and nothing seems
to prosper with me, and cannot meet my engagements with
promptness on account of repeated disappointments; yet I feel
assured the prayer of faith will prevail, that I may live to
show forth His praise; willing am I, to sink into the dust, and
become as poor as “Lazarus” in the Gospel; so that my Saviour’s
name is honoured. Hold out Faith, a little longer.
|Novr 20th. The last few days I have been praying,
my Heavenly Father would make known to me the cause
of my lengthened trial; (things in business continue to go
hard with me,) not that I feel a murmuring spirit, for
by grace I am made willing to suffer; but my lang-
uage is, “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me
and know my thoughts, and see if there be any wicked
way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
There must be, on my part, some clinging to selfrighteousness,
or spiritual pride, or something else. The Lord in great
mercy make it plain to my eyes; that when I see it; I
may truly say, “Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in
dust and ashes.” Yet notwithstanding all unworthiness and
natural infermities [sic], I can trust in, and rest on Him, who
upholds and governs all things. I again pray, Lord increase
Decr 24th. A day of severe trial, met with unexpected reverses;
and coming so suddenly upon me, I was for a few moments
almost overwhelmed; but as speedily as possible, got me into
the strong hold, (the secrececy [sic] of the closet) and there in earnestly
fervent, agonising, believing prayer, and pleading the promises,
I felt somewhat calmed. I do most earnestly desire to stand
still, and see the salvation of God. To hear the still small
voice, saying, “This is the way, walk ye in it.” But my weakness
and infirmities are so great, that it is indeed, a mighty conflict.
Decr 25th. Christmas Day. ---- Spent a very happy and social
day, with my family, at our old friends, Mr Richard Shoobridge
Providence Valley: went out with my mind rather depressed, by
the trials I am labouring under; though supported by Almighty
grace; and our mutual conversation upon spiritual things, tended
to lighten my mind, and fix my thoughts on eternal realities.
Janry 9th 1846. “Many are the afflictions of the Righteous, but the
Lord delivereth him, out of them all.” My path for some time
past, and still is gloomey; but, so perfectly satisfied am I, that
all things will work together for good; I desire therefore, to stand
still, and wait the issue: without faith in God, now; I should
become an easy prey to the enemy of souls; O the precious prom-
ises! All are mine, through Christ. O holy Spirit, proceeding from
the Father, and the Son; continue to comfort and support my
Afternoon. I little thought when I wrote the above, I should so soon
be called to cast myself and family, upon the alone mercy of
my God. I went to one of my creditors to arrange a payment,
when he put a few questions to me, respecting my presant [sic]
*See, Janry 19th below
this entry *
|circumstances; I told him in few words, the
treatment of some
others, toward me: when he at once wished me to bring my
affairs to a close, saying he was perfectly satisfied with my pro-
ceedings, but that it was impossible for me to do any good for my-
self; or them in such a case; and that he was willing in future
to assist me again. I therefore put my affairs in his trusts for the
benefit of all concerned. (Faith, tells me all is well.)
Janry 14th. Feeling acutely, but sweetly supported by the consolations
of the Eternal Spirit; casting all my care upon Him, who careth
for me. Have seen more of my Creditors, who expressed their
regret at my misfortunes, and willingness to forward my views.
God is love! -
Janry 23rd. This day my stock in Trade was sold by public auction,
a day of severe trial, but firm trust in God for the future; all
doubts and fears, being removed far from me.
Febry 2nd. Felt great liberty at family worship this morning, specially
whilst praying, that, I might find favor in the sight of those, with
whom I have to do. I felt a sweet assurance, all was working
together for my good: was very much encouraged by an inter-
view I had with Mrs Dunn Senr, who told me, that, the Governor
Sir Eardly Wilmot, would soon give me a situation; I thanked
my heavenly Father, and went on my way rejoicing. In the
afternoon of this day, I had scarcely left my closet, where I
had been praying in secret; when the Revd I.A.Manton came
in, and said, “I have good news for you.” It was an offer
of a situation at New Town Farm, Station; I went immediately
to the Comptrollers Office, and accepted of it; the appointment
to which, I expect in a few days. – Whatever withstood faith in God, yet?
My humble prayer, is, that I may be fully qualified for the dis-
charge of those duties which may devolve upon me; the Lord
grant my request.
Janry 19th. Just before going to meet my Creditors. – O most
merciful Father, the hearts of all men are in they hands; Thy will
be done in me, and by me, may I endure hardness as a good
soldier of Jesus Christ; Thou knowest the secrets of all hearts,
I cast myself, my beloved Wife, and five children, entirely
upon thy love and mercy, only give me grace to glorify Thy
holy name in the greatest extremity, and naked faith in
the precious promises: be Thou my satisfying portion, and then
I can give up all besides: O Lord, hear me, O Lord answer me,
O Lord, God, pardon and forgive all my sins, through Jesus, my
only Saviour. Amen.
|I then went to meet my Creditors, at the Office
Burns & White, the kindly feeling that was evinced
toward me, plainly proved to my mind; that, their
hearts were affected by an unseen hand. All my
Furniture was given me, for the consideration of collecting
the debts due to my estate. I returned home to the bosom
of my family with a thankful heart, giving all the
glory to our Heavenly Father, who never will forsake a
helpless worm, that trusts in Him. --- I again pray, The
Lord reward, and bless, my every Creditor, for their kindness
and liberality, to one of His most unworthy servants; may
they never be brought into the same trying circumstances,
but ever experience the joy and satisfaction of those, who have given
more than a cup of water, to me, who belongs to Christ; and in the
world to come, life everlasting. Amen.
| From February 1846 for two years and a half I
at New Town Station, in the capacity of Catechist to the
Prisoner boys:- many precious seasons with them, as well as
many family trials, and mercies. – One affliction which was
nigh unto death, but the Lord in mercy brought me back unto
life. At the end of this period, an order came from the
Home Government to break up all Convict Establishments,
so I with many others were thrown out of employment.
We then moved into Hobart Town – and after a short time
I accepted of an offer from Mr John Watson, to go to Long
Bay, to take care of a store :- I was here for about three
years (until the establishment was broken up). This was the
happiest period of my life – held religious services in our own
house every Sabbath, and during the week – had several persons
meeting in Class weekly – And with all humility I can say,
the Lord blessed me abundantly, and made me a blessing to
those committed to my charge – And our dear family dwelt
in peace. After this removed to O’Brien’s Bridge to look
after Mr R. Shoobridge’s Farm &c. – this lasted for upwards
of three years in great peace. Then I took the Farm belonging
to Mr Joseph Berrisford – built a house upon it &c, but
owing to continued failure in Crops and other circumstances
|I was again brought into trying circumstances –
once more had
to give all up into the hands of my Creditors – and the Lord
again raised up many friends. We then moved into Town,
and after some time I accepted of a situation at Westbury
at the Stores of Messrs White & Son; leaving my family still in
Town, hoping to send for them shortly, this was in the year
1859 – June, but it pleased the All wise disposer of events to
bring me down by affliction, to the very gates of death – far away
from my beloved family: - but in mercy God raised me
up again, was carefully removed to my beloved Sister Smithies
at Longford, and after a few weeks of good nursing by them,
was enabled to take my journey home, after an absence of
three months: - thankful to my Heavenly Father for his many
mercies to his unfaithful servant. While at Westbury, altho
all the time in ill health, I preached four times, during the
six weeks – and I would have record [sic] my thanksgiving for the
kindness received from Mrs Boston, with whom I lodged, and
her kind Sister Mr Ikin [sic] who attended to all my wants, and
nursed me with tender care during my painful affliction; also
to Messrs White & Son, Douglas, Hall, and many others who
ministered to all my wants and comforts: - especially to Mr
Lyall the Innkeeper, who ordered his Carriage & horses to be
got ready to convey me to Longford in as easy a manner as
possible – for he was so affected with my death like appearance,
when my friends were putting me into the Chaise Cart: - this
was indeed a special Providence, for we had not started long
before it began to rain, and continued most of the journey,
and had I been in the open Cart, most likely it would have
proved fatal to me.! – and this is the man I had so greatly
offended by preaching against Balls &c (for he kept
a room for such purposes.) The Lord softened his heart
towards his servant; may he receive a reward, is my earnest
prayer. Arrived at home in safety the beginning of September,
|and was received with great joy, by my beloved
loving children; and by the blessing of God, and their kind
attention, I soon recovered my strength.
|On the 17th December 1859. I wrote the following
Sir, In answer to the advertisement of this morning,
I beg to offer myself as a Candidate for the office of
Registrar & Storekeeper of the “Benevolent Society.”
Also to forward the annexed testimonials.
To I. R. Bateman Esqr Signed Wm. Witt.
We the undersigned beg in the strongest manner
to recommend Mr. Wm Witt for the Office of Registrar and
Storekeeper to the Benevolent Society, having known him
for a great number of years, we can with confidence recom-
mend him for his honesty, integrity, and business qualifications
as a most suitable and efficient man for the office.
T. D.Chapman Hon.
F.M. Innis, Col:Treasurer, &c
Rev John Cope, Wesleyan Minister
Rev W.D. Lelean, Do Do
Rev. F Miller, Indept Do
Henry Hopkins, Mess Burgess & Barrett; and many others.
At their next meeting, I was unanimously chosen for the
office, out of the Fifty two Applicants. – To take place from
the 1st January 1860, at a Salary of £150 per annum.
1864 April, 25th. During the four years I have now held the situation, I
have been enabled, by strict economy, to pay off several of
my old debts:- And up to within the last fortnight I have not
been laid by through illness, although suffering much at times
from my old complaint; but for the last four days I have been
almost laid aside from duties, by a most severe attack of the
Disease of the Heart, the most acute pain I have suffered; but in the
midst of all, felt great peace and joy through believing, and was
|enabled by faith, to, “Behold the Lamb of God.”
– This was my
text on the Sabbath before I was taken ill; at the “Old Beach”.
O how gracious is the Lord to his servants who put their trust
in him, and love and serve him; and when called to suffer affliction
they feel, “He doeth all things well”. “The Lord is a strong Tower,
The righteous runneth into it, and are safe:” – blessed experience!
Not the least of this trial, is, I am ordered by my Medical Adviser,
to desist from preaching:- but, why should I speak thus; such an
unprofitable servant as I have been; yet I have always felt
it to be a blessed work to be engaged in; and trust I have not
altogether labored in vain, for I have endeavoured at all times
to work in faith, with a single eye to the glory of God, and the
good of souls: - the fruit will appear, if not in Time, in Eternity.
Therefore to be laid aside by Him, I feel it my happiness to
say, “Thy will be done.” Amen.
1867. July 20. Since the last entry, The merciful Lord has rased [sic] me
up to a good degree of health and strength, and for the last
three years have resumed my labours in preaching &c. –
For which I feel truly greatful [sic]: - God has blessed me
in the good work, and in due season I hope to reap,
according to his own promise, which never fails!
Of late many of our old friends have passed away into
eternity, and a new generation is springing up around us: -
For it is now Thirty years since we landed on these shores;
and notwithstanding the many, and great trials, during
that period, We can look back, and say, goodness and
mercy hath followed us – “He hath led us by the right
way, that we may go to the city of habitation – Heaven - !
“This God is our God, for ever and ever”. Amen.
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