WILLIAM JAMES STOKES was one of the first seven to meet as brethren at Aungier Street, Dublin, in company with J. G. BELLETT, FRANCIS HUTCHINSON, JOHN PARNELL (afterwards LORD CONGLETON), J. N. DARBY, A. N. GROVES, and E. CRONIN, he being the youngest of the party—about twenty years of age. He was born in 1807.
AUNGIER STREET was the first public room, hired by Lord Congleton for their use on Lord's Day. His idea was that the Lord's Table should be a public witness of their position. There they commenced breaking bread. It was a large auction room, and in order to clear the place for the meeting on Lord's Day morning three or four of the brothers were in the habit of moving the furniture aside on Saturday evening.
One of these active brothers, referring to their Saturday night's work, after a lapse of nearly fifty years, said: "These were blessed seasons to my soul—J. Parnell, W. Stokes, and others moving the furniture and laying the simple table with the bread and wine—and never to be forgotten; for surely we had the Master's presence, smile, and sanction in a movement such as this was."
Mrs. E . TROTTER, in her most interesting book, "Undertones of the Nineteenth Century," says: "The inspiration came to them at first alone, and not under the influence of large multitudes ; neither did it die out, but energised and sustained them in lives of unusual toil and unusual length."
This may be truly said of W. J. STOKES. Greatly loving all Christians, and beloved by many, he was very helpful in large Bible readings, in private houses, and elsewhere, attended by godly clergymen and Christians of all denominations . He held a large Bible Class for men in connection with the Y.M.C.A. at Sackville Street, Dublin, the attendance numbering between 100 and 200. He was much used in ministry amongst Assemblies. By his gentle, tactful, and Christlike sympathy he was enabled to heal many breaches and minor difficulties in them. Some of his addresses at the Dublin believers' meetings have been published; also in a book, "Truth in Season," being notes of addresses by R. C. Chapman, H. Dyer, and himself. He frequently visited England, and in the late "sixties" addressed Christian young women in Devon with J. L. Harris, Capt. T. H. Hall, H. W. Soltau, and others.
Mr. Stokes' courageous initiative with Mr. Robert Keane (solicitor), of Dublin, resulted in the formation of what is now known as the Harold's Cross Protestant Orphanage, Dublin, and also a Rescue Home at 31 Marlborough Street, Dublin, still in existence. He was in ill health for many years before the end, but always cheerful, happy, and praising God for all His mercies. Had he lived until the 11th March, 1881, he would have been seventy-four, but he fell asleep on the 3rd. Surely "the memory of the just is blessed."