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Elizabeth Dumville (1803-1863)

published in the Monthly Observer, 1863

On Tuesday, the 20th of October, 1863, at her residence, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Elizabeth, the beloved wife of the Rev. W. Ray, aged 60. The disease, which after years of intense suffering, led to her departure, was cancer in the breast, for which she underwent two severe operations, enduring them with great fortitude, patience, and submission, being sustained by the merciful aid of her heavenly Father and Saviour Jesus Christ. Mrs. Ray had been a receiver of the doctrines of the New Jerusalem Church about eighteen years. She was brought up and educated in the Church of England, according to the views of the Evangelical, or Calvanistic class of its clergy. Her father, who was an excellent man, and for whom she ever cherished an ardent affection, was intimately associated with the Revs. Newton, Scott, Legh Richmond, Gauntlett, and others. She, however, embraced Arminianism, and very early in life became a member of the Wesleyan Methodist Society, of which she continued a sincere and consistent member for 20 years. Upon the New Church doctrines being expounded in Oxford, by the Rev. D. Howarth, her husband, a Methodist preacher, having gone through a course of theological study and preparation for a foreign circuit, was led to attend, and he became an ardent receiver of the doctrinal views propounded. He sought first to introduce the truths to Mrs. Ray; but she for some time was so much determined to remain in what she believed to be the purest form of truth, that she most affectionately and earnestly endeavoured to dissuade him from any consideration of what she had been told were visionary, unscriptual, and destructive notions, &c. At length she looked through Clowes on the Parables and found that it was not as represented. She then read other works, and being elevated in thought, and delighted with the harmony and force of such superior ideas, she at length left her old connection, and zealously advocated and defended the truths of the New Church. The first Society at Oxford was organised at her home in Rose Hill, in 1846, commencing with sixteen members, many of whom are gone before her into the spiritual world. For the last ten years she suffered from the malady which has now been the cause of her "finishing her course" in peace. On reaching Newcastle she was much pleased to see the friends, but after attending the two services on the first Sunday there, she could not get out to them any more. In the midst of her sufferings she often spoke of the merciful designs of the Lord, and the cheering prospects of the eternal inheritance unfolded in the Word, as explained in the writings of Swedenborg. The Sunday before her removal, while labouring for breath, she said to her husband, "tell me those fine lines in our Hymn Book, beginning with

"Is thy earthly house distress'd,
Willing to retain its guest?"

He found it, and read on,

"Tis not thou, but it must die,
Fly, celestial tenant, fly, &c."

She said, "Oh, how true and beautiful I now feel such sentiments to be." The thoughts of meeting many dear friends, and of performing uses in higher states, often delighted her. Several times she expressed a wish that if it were her heavenly Father's will, she hoped her "earthly tabernacle," would be taken down easily; and so it came to pass, for on beckoning her husband to her, she kissed him, whispering, "take care of my child," and then soon after, in a louder tone, "Let me go, for the day breaketh," (Gen. xxxii. 26) and thus departed without a pain or sigh. So finished a life of tried virtue and excellence, exhibiting in every part the power and mercy of the Saviour, who says, "When ye fail, they shall receive you into everlasting habitations."


The Library and Archives Committee of the Swedenborgian New Church gave a copy of this obituary to Lynda Metcalfe, and she provided a copy of it for this website. Elizabeth Dumville's husband, Reverend William Ray (1815-1884), was a Minister in the Swedenborgian New Church in Newcastle upon Tyne.

See also:

Benjamin Dumville (1768-1830), father of Elizabeth Dumville.