Reverend John Tinson Wrenford Vicar Of St. Paul's Church Newport 1855 - 1904


Photo reference number: 1584

Text and image from "St. Paul's Parish Newport" by Rev. T. Parry Pryce, 1936.

On January 29th, 1855, the Rev. John Tinson Wrenford, M.A., was instituted to the Benefice of St. Paul's.

On January 22nd he received from the Lord Bishop of Llandaff the following letter :

My Dear Sir,
A letter this morning from Mr. Wybrow informs me that he is instituted to his Benefice. I take the first opportunity of informing you of this, and of claiming the fulfilment of your promise that you will accept St. Paul's; for which I have no doubt you are well fitted.
There is at present a little restlessness among the people. But by God's blessing you will, I think, soon overcome this. It is a large sphere of duty, and will furnish you with abundant opportunities of fulfilling the great end of your ministry, glorifying God, and doing good to immortal souls.
Believe me,
My dear Sir,
Yours faithfully,
A. LLANDAFF.

The Rev. J. T. Wrenford was born in the neighbourhood of Liverpool on the 30th of June, 1825, and was educated at various schools.
He read for Holy Orders at the Bishop's Divinity Class at Cowbridge Grammar School and was Ordained to the Curacy of St. Mary's Cardiff, on the 9th of October, 1849. This was his one and only Curacy. He was a most energetic parish priest and very soon commenced a number of parochial organisations which were well supported by the people. On leaving Cardiff he was presented with valuable gifts including a massive double silver ink stand, a gold pencil and pen case. All of these were suitably inscribed.
With his advent to St. Paul's, the parish soon witnessed a great revival of spiritual life. A mission was opened in a Mission Hall, Granville Street, and a number of Parochial organisations started, in which he had the whole hearted and loyal assistance of a large band of workers.
For forty-nine years he held the appointment of Chaplain to the unit of H.M. Forces stationed at Barrack Hill. This unit came regularly to St. Paul's for morning service. An attractive sight which will be remembered by the older members of the congregation was the "Regimental Goat" leading the procession as the men marched along Commercial Street to Church.
He took a very special interest in these men and diligently sought to promote their spiritual welfare in every possible way.
Mr. Wrenford was a man of untiring energy. A prolific writer of religious booklets, all of which ran into hundreds of editions and millions of copies. Many were translated into several languages and reached a very wide circulation.
A friendship formed in 1873 with Frances Ridley Havergal, proved to be one of the most pleasant and fruitful incidents of his life. He had the privilege of giving publicity to her well known hymn, "Take my life and let it be consecrated, Lord, to Thee," which she sent to him in manuscript, immediately it was written.
As a successful Missioner he was for many years much sought after, especially in Ireland. And as a preacher, it is said that in his day few could equal him.

His language was always simple and his message could easily be understood even by the most unlearned.
For years, on Sunday nights, when he preached with the Church crammed to capacity, you could hear the proverbial "pin drop" during his 50 minutes' sermon.
During the period of his Incumbency, he removed the side galleries, replacing the old box pews with the present seats. He removed the Three-decker Pulpit with its accommodation for a somnolent parish clerk, and rebuilt the organ in its present position, ex the West Gallery, as a memorial to his late organist, Mr. George Rogers - who was probably one of the finest masters of Church music of his time. He also substituted a mixed choir by a surpliced one.
He initiated the Union of "All for Jesus disciples" - an organisation which spread very rapidly in this country and soon could boast of members in India, China, Australia, America, and in parts of the European Continent.
He was also led to commence a little association entitled "The Morning Watch," for promoting early rising and early communion with God. This also was greatly blessed of God.
His long ministry in the Parish, of nearly fifty years, will be specially remembered and deeply cherished for the series of successful and soul stirring missions, which were the outcome of his burning passion for souls. These missions, conducted at various times by the Rev. Robert Aitken, Vicar of Pendeen, his two sons the Rev. R. W. Aitken and Canon Hay Aitken, and Lord Radstock, greatly affected the spiritual life of the whole town, and it is on record that literally hundreds were converted within the four walls of the Church.
Writing of these Missions in a booklet entitled "God's work at Newport," Dr. Wrenford says:-

"On Tuesday night, nearly or quite two thousand persons were crowded into the sacred edifice, while hundreds thronged the approaches unable to obtain admission. A spirit of deep solemnity characterised the services, which were prolonged to a very late hour, in consequence of the large number of anxious ones seeking direction. The result of this second mission was that three hundred souls were brought to the Lord, in connection with St. Paul's alone. Surely no one can speak of an aggregate of one thousand conversions in a single parish within four months, without feelings of fervent gratitude to Him Who alone can turn one sinner 'from darkness to light; and from the power of Satan unto God.' Still more intense becomes the heart's thanksgiving when the fact is contemplated, that many hundreds besides were converted and led to Jesus, in connection with other Communions, in the same period of time, and that, the work of the Lord rapidly spread to several parishes adjacent."
He died having served his day and generation loyally and well on the 19th of February, 1904.
On Sunday, February 21st, a touching reference was made at the morning service by the Rev. W. A. Peters, Curate of St. Paul's, to the great loss the parish had sustained by the lamented death of their beloved Vicar.
The funeral service was held at St. Paul's on Wednesday, February 24th, at 2 p.m., the cortege leaving Belle Vue Court, Cardiff Road, the residence of the Wrenford family.
The Church was draped in black - the flag outside flying at half-mast.
The officiating clergy were the Rev. J. M. Targett (son-in- law), Rev. Canon Aitken and the Rev. W. A. Peters.
There were also present a large number of Clergy including the Ven. Archdeacon Bruce, Canon Bedwell, and Rev. Benjamin Lloyd, Vicar of St. Woolos.
In the congregation were the Mayor (Councillor Clifford Phillips) and several Aldermen and Councillors of the Borough.
The interment took place at St. Woolos Cemetery.
On Sunday, February 28th, a Memorial Service was held at St. Paul's.
In the morning the preacher was Canon Bedwell, Vicar of Caerleon, and in the evening Rev. (Canon) H. G. Stanley, Vicar of Marshfield, both of whom paid eloquent tribute to the memory of the late Vicar.