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Village Art & Literature

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Posted on April 13 2011 at 3:15:42 0 comments

John hill reads from his family Bible

Last month’s Bible reading marathon at St Laurence Church, Alvechurch, produced a variety of interesting encounters, writes organiser Sue Phillips.

More than 100 people from different sections of the community read for a total of 80 hours.

Some read passages they had not encountered before and some from translations that were new to them. But John Hill (pictured above) read from a 185-year-old piece of family history.

The Morrell family Bible was bought by Birmingham shoemaker Theophilus Morrell, to mark his marriage in 1826 to Matilda Thompson. The imposing leather bound volume cost him £2-4s-0d – more than £100 in today’s money – a huge sum for a shoemaker to find.

The names of their 13 children are all recorded in the flyleaf, the final entry being the death of Theophilus in November 1861.

Their ninth child, Hannah Sophia Morrell, brought the Bible into John Hill’s family by marrying his great-grandfather, Jesse Hill, who was also a shoemaker.

The Bible is now quite fragile, but John said: “It seemed to me very appropriate to use it in the Bible reading marathon.

“Reading from it was not straightforward, however, since, as was common at that time, many instances of the letter ‘s’ were printed as an ‘f’.

“During my reading I’m afraid I had one or two characters who ‘flew’ instead of ‘slew’ – at least until I got the hang of it!”

The precious heirloom takes us back in history some 185 years – nearly half of the time since King James authorised the publication of this great classic.

Just the moment for John to choose to share it with us all.

* More information on the Morrell family can be found in the Cannon Street Baptist Church records.

There may even be family links with Alvechurch Baptist Church, as it’s known that members of Cannon Street Baptist would regularly walk the 10 miles out of Birmingham to lead services and teach the Alvechurch Sunday school.

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