Brethren Archive

George Brealey

Born: 4th September 1823
Died: 6th March 1888

Intro, Biographical Information, Notes etc:

Chief Men Among the Brethren Biography

GEORGE BREALEY was a capital tract writer, and the "Blackdown Tracts" have been scattered far and near, and God has used them in the conversion of many souls. He was best and most widely known in the south and west of England as a willing-hearted, warm-hearted, whole-hearted evangelist, whom God had greatly owned in soul-winning.

He was born of poor but respectable parents at North Tawton, Devonshire, on 4th September, 1823. The family had many hardships, and, strange to say, though his parents were decided Christians, he was apprenticed at the age of fifteen to an infidel uncle, who, in addition to being a country shoemaker, kept a public house. Here he learned to drink, swear, and fight, but becoming seriously ill, he was obliged to return home.

At three o'clock on Whit Sunday, 1841, his mother found him in a public-house playing cards with two other young men. A short time previously they had taunted him with being a "Methodist." He had set to and thrashed both of them, and then took them to the public-house to prove he was no "Methodist." His poor mother finding him in such a place at such a time, fell on her knees and pleaded with God for her erring boy. He was completely overpowered by his mother's prayers and entreaties, and, turning to his companions, said, "Good-bye, mates, I shall never enter this place again, as I have done. " "What, " they replied, "you going to turn 'Methody.' He's afraid of his mother." This taunt annoyed him, but he was enabled to control his feelings, and quietly replied, "I am not afraid of my mother. You know I love her too well; but I am afraid of God and of my sins. Will either of you go to Hell for me ?" "No, " they replied, "we don't want to go for ourselves, much less for you. " "Then," said he, "don't laugh at me for turning round and trying to escape." He left with his mother, and soon after obtained peace with God.

At the age of twenty-one he married and commenced business on his own account in the city of Exeter in 1861. For some years he made little, if any, progress in the Divine life.

The Lord aroused him from his spiritual slumber partly through a conversation he had with a devoted Christian in a railway carriage, and partly through the suicide of "Old Evans," a godless man known to Brealey, who lived near him, but to whom he had never spoken on eternal matters. As he cut down the lifeless body, "the terrible thought of his accountability to God and his responsibility to his fellowmen pressed so crushingly upon him, that there and then he resolved to give himself afresh to God and His service with a determination never relinquished or relaxed. " From that day forward there was a mighty change in his life, which manifested itself to all, for he became an "out-and-out" Christian. He recognised that he was no longer his own in any sense, and was willing to be anything or do anything for Christ.

Referring to this "second conversion," or restoration to God, he wrote as follows: "His love had killed my earthly desires, and I was ready to be His slave because He had made me His free man." Night and day he prayed that he might be used of the Lord in His honourable and blessed service. The trammels of shame and worldly policy having been broken, he launched out into the deep, and let down his net for a draught of souls. And God greatly blessed him. He allowed himself only five hours for sleep; and in this way, whilst attending to his earthly calling, he succeeded in devoting several hours daily to visiting from house to house, and speaking personally to the people about their spiritual condition.

Through valuable help afforded him by various Christians, he was enabled to distribute tens of thousands of Gospel tracts at fairs and races. Tract distribution on such occasions was not then common, and he experienced much opposition. Undaunted, he persevered in carrying the Gospel into the head-quarters of the enemy. With banner, and striking texts inscribed on it, he moved from place to place, warning the unsaved to flee from the wrath to come, and pointing them to Christ, the sinner's refuge. "Instant in season, out of season, " he preached in the streets and lanes of Exeter. He also visited the low public-houses, speaking tenderly yet faithfully to the poor slaves of drink, and distributing Gospel papers and booklets. Eventually he became exercised about devoting his entire time to Gospel work.

After much prayer he decided to go to Demerara to preach to the negroes. Berths were taken in a sailing vessel. But the Lord had work for him nearer home. A "Macedonian" cry came from the Blackdown Hills in East Devon, and in 1864 he moved there. The "Hills" have an area of 400 square miles, and here and there are farms, hamlets, and villages scattered far apart. The moral and spiritual condition of the people at that time was wretched in the extreme. At first he had a salary which was given by various Christian friends. But as God began to work he became troubled about his position. Numbers professed to accept Christ as their Saviour. As the young believers searched the Scriptures, they saw that in apostolic times, when men and women believed on Christ, they were baptised, and gathered together on the first day of the week to break bread. They desired to obey the Lord and act out what they had learned. Some who contributed toward the evangelist's support became alarmed, and threatened to withdraw their help if he baptised the converts. What was he to do? "If I teach them absolute submission to the authority of the Scripture, must I hinder them in their desire to obey the Word of the Lord? Am I not responsible to help them to obedience?" Such were the questions that George Brealey had to face, and he decided to obey God rather than man, and carry out His instructions: "Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded." Thus he gave up his salary and trusted the Lord alone to supply all his needs, and he never regretted taking this step.

The cottage in which the meetings were held became too small. It was subsequently enlarged, and in the course of two years 140 were baptised and received into fellowship. The work increased, and other parts of the "Blackdowns" were visited with similar results. Schools and Gospels halls were built, and men and women, as well as boys and girls, have not only been taught to read and write, but many have been saved and led on in the ways of Christ, some of whom are labouring for the Lord in China, India, Africa, and America, while others are witnessing for Christ in various parts of Britain.

When Brealey began work in the Blackdown Hills, he asked God for a "body of iron and a soul of fire, " and for nearly twenty-five years he had his desire granted. In summer he preached in the open air and in tents, and in winter in halls, school-houses, cottages, and meeting places of all kinds. He had literally a passion for souls. In later years he evangelised through the large towns of England, wherever a door was opened of the Lord. Oftentimes he was heard saying, "My parish is the world. Anywhere for Jesus I would go, and anywhere I would preach, provided I would be allowed to take the Truth, the whole Truth, and nothing but the Truth."

Early in March, 1888, he was taken Home to be with the Lord. In his last address he spoke as follows of the Blood of Christ: "We shall never get out of the sight of the Cross, and can never do without the Blood; and, may I say, never was the Cross of Christ or the Blood of the Lamb more precious to my soul than now—make much of the Cross, make much of the Blood." "He being dead yet speaketh," and the work on the Blackdown Hills is still carried on in the Name of Him who plucked such trophies of grace as brands from the everlasting burning.

A. M.

Tom said ...
"George's daughter, Ellen Brealey, was a missionary with the China Inland Mission, to China. She married a widower and they had one baby son. Sadly, Ellen died after the birth of her son, in China." - from Ancestry
Wednesday, Dec 5, 2018 : 06:23
Brian john Kiernan said ...
The world is such a huge and mixed up place . It has been and always will be . To have men like George Brealey to bring Jesus Christ to people who just don’t understand what faith in god means ; is a great inspiration for me ,to know that there will always be someone to bring Christianity to these lost and daunting people ,is a wonderful thing .to know that a man like George Brealey has inspired so many men and women to take over such a wonderful legacy that George has left to the World .kind regards
Brian Kiernan .
Friday, Mar 13, 2020 : 00:16
Marty said ...


George Brealey – 4th September 1823 ~ 6th March 1888, age 64.
Burial: Hemyock Baptist Chapel, Hemyock, Devon.
Father: John Brealey – 1803 ~ July 1880.
Mother: Susanna Scott – c1793 ~ 1863.
   Ann Brealey – 1825 ~
Wife: Susanna (Susan) Gibbings – May 1816 ~ 29th December 1882, age 66. 
    Married October 1844.
   Elizabeth Ellen Brealey (W. D. Rudland) – 1847 ~ 22nd June 1878, age 86.  Missionary to China.
   Walter John Henry Brealey – 7th March 1852 ~ 3rd August 1916, age 64.
     Wife: Miriam Martha Showell – 31st December 1851 ~ 8th September 1932,
          age 80.

        Florence Mary Brealey (G. H. Lang) – 1876 ~ 1963.
        Ada Jessie Brealey – 1877 ~ 20th September 1961.  Missionary in India.
        Ellen (May) Brealey – July 1878 ~   Missionary to China.

        George Cecil Showell Brealey (M. Wyatt) – 1887 ~ 13 June 1957.
        Douglas Walter Brealey (Marie R. Reed) – 31st July 1889 ~ 29th August 1969,
            age 80.
   Georgina Sussanna Brealey (E. Venn) – 15th April 1856 ~ 1st May 1923, age 67.
2nd Wife: Mary Ann Marles – 1831 ~ c1908, age 73.  Married October 1884.

Tuesday, Jun 15, 2021 : 05:12
Marty said ...
In the midst of deep affliction, I write to inform the readers of THE CHRISTIAN that the Lord has been pleased to call home to Himself my dear wife [Susanna Gibbings, on 29th December 1882], who has been my fellow labourer in this mission these twenty years. She has been a great sufferer at times for many years past. Her end was peace. She had been a Christian for fifty years. In the sphere wherein the Lord called her to work, she has been true to Him. A large number of the poor on these hills will miss her much, as her special work was to care for them.
—Yours in Him who doeth all things well,
GEORGE BREALEY. Clayhidon, Wellington, Somerset.

Please permit me a little space to thank many of your readers for their letters of sympathy in my sorrow and bereavement. As some have wished to hear particulars of my beloved, departed one’s last days, I subjoin a few of her words. About three weeks before she was called home, I returned from a meeting, and her first words were, ‘‘I have had two hours with Jesus. I never thought it possible that such joy could be known in this life. I was feeling very weak, and wished to go home, when it seemed as if someone had come between me and the Lord. I was very wretched, for it seemed as if that someone was Satan, making me see myself and my unworthiness. I cried to the Lord for deliverance, and my eye fell upon the words opposite my bed: ‘Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world!’ As I read those sweet words, they were brought home to my heart as never before. It seemed as if my Lord talked with me, and there was nothing between us then; Satan had gone,” and her face was lit up with a Divine joy which I had never seen before, though she had been a very happy believer for nearly fifty years, and a great sufferer for fifteen years, more or less. Her sufferings at times were great, but her patience was wonderful. We got continual answers to prayer from God for her. ‘‘He holds my hand,” she said, as she neared her departure. “Yes,’’ I replied, ‘‘He will be our guide over death (Ps. xlviii. 14.), just as at the passage over Jordan by Israel of old.” Once I asked her if she was perfectly happy. ‘‘Yes,’’ she replied, “because the Lord is my portion; He changeth not. I have often grieved Him, which is now a grief to me; but I did not want to grieve Him, and He knows it. Oh, how many have been my sins and failings; but, how much more his love and grace!” As the disease increased, she became delirious, yet the one theme, “His precious blood,’’ ‘‘The white robe,” were mixed up with her utterances. I asked if she had any wish to express, or if she had any care. ‘‘No,” she said, “all my desires have been granted—I have not a care. All my dear children are in the Lord, and all are his servants. We are an unbroken family in the Lord, and shall all meet in Heaven, never more to part. A little while, and we shall be all caught up. You will put this poor body under the earth, but Jesus will come for it, and a glorious body shall take the place of this poor corruptible thing.” And thus she closed her life pilgrimage. Her last words were, ‘‘Jesus’’—‘‘White robe’’—“I have seen it.” Another glorious change passed over her face, which was lit up as if a ray from the face of her risen Lord had fallen upon it; and soon she breathed out her soul into His hands who had redeemed her; she was with the Lord! Oh, the joy and the sorrow mingled at such a time! Jesus knows how to come in and fill the gap made. We can sing by faith, ‘‘O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” Thanks be to God for the victory given in Resurrection, which will give back to us our loved ones in Him.
—Yours faithfully, GEORGE BREALEY. Clayhidon, Wellington, Somerset.
“The Christian” 1883
Tuesday, Jul 2, 2024 : 23:45

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