His final moments

 

It was at Christmas in 1902 that Charles Thompson's health began to fail him. With great reluctance he took to his bed but even then his whole heart and soul was centred on his poor people.

Thoughtful to the last, the day before he died, knowing that the end was drawing near, but not knowing how best to break it to his dear wife, he called her to him and said: "You know, the Lord may be going to take me, and maybe not, but whatever is in store He knows what is best."

Shortly before midnight an old friend by the name of Mr Southward called to see him and prayed for him, commending him to the "Throne of Grace". Mr Thompson then called his wife and children around him and wished each one a final "Good bye" telling his sons to take care of their mother. He then asked that a hymn might be sung and he joined in with great difficulty. Then after a while he asked that another hymn be sung "Jesu, lover of my soul". As he lay there he uttered his last words "Jesus, Lover! Let me to thy Bosom fly!" and with those words he peacefully passed away in the morning of 13th February 1903.

When the tidings spread that Charles Thompson had died there was intense grief. The whole town rang with the news, and people flocked from far and near to take the last look at their dear departed friend. More that one strong man wept as he gazed on the familiar features, now so cold and still. Several little boys from the Albert Industrial School, who happened to be passing the Mission Hall, begged to be allowed to see the body and they left the house of mourning, with tears streaming down their faces. Over his grave in Flaybrick Hill Cemetery a beautiful monument was erected by public subscription. The funeral was attended by thousands of people and the town was in general mourning and probably never in its history was there so much grief manifested. Among the many tributes received, one came from Buckingham Palace from Queen Alexandra with the following sympathetic acknowledgement through her secretary:

Sir

I am commanded by the Queen to acknowledge receipt of your letter with enclosure, and to say that Her Majesty is very sorry to hear of the death of a man like Mr Thompson, who has done so much for the benefit of others.

I am, Sir, Your obedient Servant

Sidney Greville

                       The day of the funeral

The following is an extract from an article that was printed in the Birkenhead Advertiser on 21st February 1903:

"On Tuesday amid such a manifestation of general sorrow as had rarely been witnessed in the town, the mortal remains of the late Charles Thompson were laid to rest at Flaybrick Hill Cemetery. Many thousands densely lined both sides of Conway Street as the procession slowly wound its way along, headed by the band of 'Indefatigable' which with the Borough Brass Band furnished a mournful and solemn accompaniment, the Dead March from 'Saul.' A number of the boys from the training ship followed their band and then about 400 of the children attending the Mission. Succeeding these were the adult mourners immediately in front of the Borough Brass Band, after which came the family mourning coaches and private carriages. At the cemetery there would be fully 6,000 people assembled. After the committal everyone joined heartily in the singing 'Jesu, lover of my soul' which concluded the service.

As would be expected the hall was crowded to excess during the service in the Mission Hall. The service was taken by the minister of Oxton Congregation Church."

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