CAPTAIN WILLIAM GRAEME RHIND, R.N., was born at Gillingham, Kent, 18th December, 1794, and fell asleep 17th March, 1863. His father, William Rhind, R.N., died almost suddenly when he was only two months old. So many members of his family having been Naval men and some having attained to high rank in the service, he was early destined for the Navy, and his name was actually enrolled as a first-class volunteer at seven years of age. At twelve years he entered actual service as a midshipman, and ere thirteen years had rolled over the head of the child he was witness to the horrors of real war, being present at the action between the American ship "Chesapeake" and H. M. S. "Leopard." He was also engaged in the terrible and sanguinary fight between the American ship "United States" and the "Macedonian. " The American ship being superior by nearly one half in tonnage, crew, and weight of guns, the British were cut to pieces and Mr. Rhind and the few survivors taken prisoners to America, where he remained two years.
Afterwards in the West Indies he was brought near the brink of eternity by yellow fever. In the winter of 1816-17, peace having been proclaimed, he retired from active service as First Lieutenant, and afterwards from seniority obtained the rank of Commander. He took up his abode at Plymouth, and happening to enter a place of worship where an aged servant of Christ was preaching the Gospel, he was pointed to "The Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world. " The entrance of that Word gave light, and he found rest in Christ Jesus.
Christ was now all things to him, and he delighted in service for Him. He used to say: "Whenever I meet a man, I see one for whom I have a message. " Becoming a diligent student of the Holy Scriptures, he contemplated entering the ministry of the Established Church soon after his conversion. So in 1822 he entered at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, where the Rev. Charles Simeon was a great help to him. He also met with Mr. Alexander, a Jew, and was the first to take him to a Christian place of worship, and had the joy of seeing him brought to the saving knowledge of Christ. Mr. Alexander was subsequently appointed Bishop in Jerusalem.
After three years he left the University, his health having broken down. After a most serious operation he recovered his strength and devoted himself to the Master's service. Buying a sailing boat, freighted with Bibles and tracts, he visited the boats and ships and vessels of war in Plymouth Harbour. He also preached in the open air, a work for which the Lord admirably fitted him and in which He condescended largely to use him. He planned a Bethel for Sailors at Plymouth and a Reading Library for invalid seamen in the R.N. Hospital. The Duke of Clarence (afterwards King William IV) visited Plymouth, and Mr. R.'s father having been his instructor in navigation, he asked Mr. R. what employment he would desire. The true-hearted soldier of the Cross replied: "Your Royal Highness, to remain as I am. " Having put his hand to the plough, no prospect of worldly advancement could induce him to look back.
In 1832 he was invited by John Synge to Ireland, and until 1838 he visited, dispensed medicine, and preached the Gospel on that large estate with good results. It was then he became acquainted with Lady Powerscourt, at whose house large meetings of Christians were held, some of whom had left the communion of the Church of England for the simple and Scriptural mode of coming out from amongst the unconverted, and meeting simply in the Name of the Lord in dependence on the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
His mind being exercised about ministry and the separate character of the Church, he could not conscientiously become a minister of the Establishment, and declined the living of S----- which was pressed upon him. After his return to England with his wife and family, he resided for nearly four years in the city of Hereford. Having from conviction embraced the views held by those Christians who meet simply as brethren in Christ, he met every Lord's Day with those in Bridge Street for the breaking of bread (Acts 20. 7). He taught and exhorted with authority and weight, and as an evangelist no one could set forth more clearly than he did that all was of grace through faith.
In 1843 he became a resident in Ross. A little room was rented at Wilton Road, and at first ten persons met together to remember the Lord Jesus as in early apostolic times; but very soon the room was too small, and over 100 met in happy fellowship. Mr. R. made preaching tours in various parts of the kingdom, preaching to large and fashionable crowds at Cheltenham and other places. A great personal soul-winner, whether by rail, coach, or steamboat, he would immediately present every one he met with a tract. This he called "showing his colours at once. " He taught much and often of the return of the Lord Jesus, more and more to him the "blessed hope. " God made this, His dear servant, to be not only a clean vessel, but a large one, and then filled him to overflowing with love. This was the secret of that happy beaming countenance, the result of communion with Him whose presence ever imparts light and gladness, and which caused children to call him "Mr. Gloryface!".
Such was the esteem and affection felt for him by the early "chief men" that he was one of the specially selected guides who met at Plymouth in 1845 in the interests of peace at the time of the strife between Darby and Newton. He wrote books which have been much valued, such as "The Tabernacle in the Wilderness," "The Testimony of the Times," etc., and also a very useful book for the young, "The Six Days of Creation, " all of which passed through several editions.
He passed away at Weston-under-Penyard, 2 miles from Ross, on 17th March, 1863. His remains were taken to the burial ground attached to the Barton Meeting Room, Hereford. A service was held in the presence of many hundreds who surrounded the grave.