Revised January 24, 2018
1900 - 1901
THE YEAR 1900: There were 12 new Workers. The nine brother Workers were: Willie Gill, Albert Quinn, Irvine Weir, John Sullivan, Ben Boles, John Hardie, Matt Wilson, William Clelland and A. Alexander. Some believe Sam Boyd should also be on this list. Willie Gill was the first convert from the Rathmolyon Mission to go into the work. Three sisters also entered the work: Emma Gill, her sister Jennie Gill, and Sara Rogers, for a cumulative total of 18 workers in 1900.
"Mr. Irvine was the preacher and used to have good attendance and also some to decide, in addition to those of his previous mission. After that, the [moveable wooden] hall was moved to Stoney Lane, where for several weeks he held forth, mostly by himself, only that now and then he would turn on some local help, like Jack Carroll perhaps, and others, to try their apprentice hands at preaching. I believe it was there that Irvine Weir and Albert Quinn first made their appearance in those parts, both from Dublin - also Tom Hastings from Rathmoylon and John Hardie, a Scotsman came along at that time, and I am not sure if it was at that time that George Walker, who also hailed from Dublin, first showed up or not, but I remember him being in our house with 5 or 6 others including William Irvine and John Sullivan at a pretty early date in the history of the movement" (G. P., Account of the Early Days).
Wm Irvine, Willie Gill and Andy Robb appear to have been the oldest of the workers at this time, all being about 34 yrs old at this time. "Willie was a wealthy landowner - or stood to inherit it - and his going into the Work in 1900 made quite an impact on his community. He was the elder worker in the British Isles from 1914 until his death in 1951 at the age of 88. He is listed as starting in the work in 1900 and two other Gills - Jennie and Emma are also shown as starting that year" (G. P., Account of the Early Days, Fn 8).
Jack Jackson recollected that by his calculations, it was 53 years and 8 months since Willie Gill and some others at Rathmolyon made their choice saying, "Lord what will Thou have me to do?" (Willie Gill's Funeral June 5, 1951). This dates back to October, 1897.
JOHN LONG'S COMPANIONS: When John Long began preaching independently on Faith Lines in January 1899, he sometimes preached alone; sometimes he had a helper or companion; sometimes he was the fellowhelper of another preacher, including Wm. Irvine. His companions were constantly changing. Young workers were sent to him often for training, and it was not long before they were replaced. He faithfully recorded in his Journal who joined him, when they left and where they worked Missions. This was taking place before Irvine's movement organized. For example, at the Co. Galway mission, John wrote:
"At that mission, Thomas Turner, a Schoolmaster...got converted; he very soon after that gave up his situation and became for a time my companion in travels" (Journal, May 1898).
"About that time Irvine returned when I had started the Mission in Condarrat, and he left me a partner named Irvine Weir...Irvine Weir returned to Ireland and Samuel Boyd joined me, and we had short Missions in Auchinstarry, Banton, Queenzieburn (Scotland)..." (Journal, Nov. - Dec. 1899).
"At Ballymena, I spent a week helping Sister Gill at a Mission in a Wooden Tent, newly built. While in that district, Irvine had a meeting so powerful that the people refused to go home, and it lasted all night. At that time William Irvine asked me to go over to Darlington and take up work in a Wooden Tent...so I left Ireland and...went by train to Darlington...then I came to Kilsyth and John Barton sent me to Cumbernauld to help Samuel Boyd in a Mission held in a Wooden Tent" (Journal, Sept. 1900).
"About that time, Joseph Kerr left me and Richard Meikle joined me. For knowledge of the Scriptures, Kerr was the finest companion I ever had; and he was only twenty-one; however, Edward Cooney, and William Irvine sent him with me for a Training; and did not leave a good man with me long” (Journal, Oct. 1902).
It can be seen from the accounts of Long and Pattison that behind the scenes, Irvine was superintending his Worker converts. Both Cooney and Irvine at times sent workers to John Long for training. John Long’s reports in his Journal from 1898 through 1902 that he trained or preached with Thomas Turner, Irvine Weir, Samuel Boyd, Willie Clelland, Matthew Wilson, Thomas Hastings, Joseph Gillis, Emma Gill, John Hardie, Harry Weir, Richard Meikle and Joe Kerr. All these would soon become Workers in Irvine’s movement after it was organized, and none were Faith Mission Workers. Three or four (possibly more) of Long's Worker trainees or companions were associated with Todd’s Mission (Gill, Turner, Hardie, and possibly Givan) and would later become Workers in Irvine's movement when Todd's Mission disbanded. It is interesting that both Todd's and Irvine’s workers were sent to be with John Long.At times, Irvine attempted to supervise John, who was preaching independently, and they did not always see eye to eye. John complained, "While I was originally helped by William Irvine, yet he often interfered with my providential leadings” (Journal, Oct. 1900). On occasion, John refused to follow Irvine's instructions:
"At that time some misunderstanding arose between me and William Irvine; he was leaving Ireland, and crossing to Scotland, and he wrote me to go over and take the oversight of the work in the South of Ireland. I felt that it was God who opened up the way when I came first to Scotland, and that I would not leave until He showed me His will in the matter. We went to Doon where we spent one week Street Preaching; then after a visit to Kilsyth, William Clelland and I crossed to Ireland; and held a mission in a barn in Mountmellick..." (Journal, March 1900). Wm. Clelland entered the work in 1900 and was a brother to two of Wm. Irvine's brothers-in-law.
As a Faith Mission Superintendent, Irvine had no authority to ask John Long, who was not a Faith Mission worker, to take oversight of the Faith Mission work in S. Ireland. This begs the question: In March 1900, did Irvine no longer consider himself a Faith Mission Pilgrim? FM continued to list his name on their staff until Dec. 1900. Other areas of contention between Irvine and Long were:
"Owing to lack of courage in conducting After-Meetings, I had not the visible results of other Evangelists in many of my missions; and because of that, I suffered a good deal of reproach from William Irvine, and other fellow workers who were hard to be pleased; yet, I did not get the credit for the amount of day work regarding house to house visitation and literature that was attached to my Missions; also the continuous preaching night after night, without any gap or rest or holiday; and that for years without much break" (Journal, Feb. 1900).
From John Long’s comments, it can be seen that someone was "directing traffic," running the operation, assigning and moving Workers from place to place. Someone was also keeping track of the wooden halls and making them available for the preachers. Someone was arranging the all-day Special Meetings and Conventions. The comings and goings of Irvine's converts and Todd's workers to be trained by John Long were taking place while Wm. Irvine's name was still shown on the FM Staff of Workers.
1900: IRVINE ASSUMES LEADERSHIP: By this time (after Dec. 26, 1899, St. Stephen's Day Special Meeting at Nenagh), Irvine was "...almost completely out of touch with his chief [Govan] and still only groping his way towards a fuller and clearer acceptance and practice of Matthew 10" (G. P., Account of the Early Days). Pattison speculates:
“I believe the workers jointly and individually felt Mr. Todd was not the man to superintend and direct such an important movement, and probably pressed Mr. Irvine himself into acceptance of responsibility. The fact that up to that point he [Wm Irvine] had not sought out place and any authority which one would think rightly belonged to him spoke volumes for the character and worth of both men, and perhaps we may leave it at that, only to say that 'Todd's Mission,' as it was then called, shortly became a thing of the past...” (G. P., Account of the Early Days).
Notice that in the above paragraph, Pattison wasn’t making a factual statement. He was SPECULATING as to how Irvine MAY have arrived at his decision to leave Faith Mission when he did. He wrote, “…as I believe" and that the workers “PROBABLY pressed Mr. Irvine into acceptance of responsibility” for “what one would think rightly belonged to him…” Pattison was making an assumption which is not a historical fact, and this should be taken into consideration along with other primary evidence concerning this event. With the information currently available, it cannot be known for certain exactly how or when the group of early workers came under Irvine's leadership, authority and responsibility.
No one knows for certain if Irvine had been planning to assemble and lead a group of Workers at some future point. His departure from Faith Mission coincided with Ed Cooney’s joining in June 1901 at which time Cooney distributed £1,300, some of which may have been donated to Irvine's ministry--this is not known for certain either. It is also not known if the closing of Todd's Mission or Cooney’s coming on board had anything to do with the timing of Irvine's departure. There are reports of both being the case (IR, Aug. 25, 1910). What we do know for certain (Bright Words) is that by January 1901, Irvine and FM had parted ways, and this very well may have happened earlier in 1900. Several have testified that before Irvine's time, there had not been such a movement of “leaving all” and going on Faith Lines.
1900, JULY 13: Wm. Irvine's father, John Irvine, who had become a widower 2.5 years earlier, sailed for New Zealand with his son James and wife, 14-year old grandson Archie Irvine (Wm. Irvine's son) and a nephew, William McCallum, ostensibly to visit John's brother James who had earlier immigrated to Dunedin, New Zealand and built up a thriving business called the House of George, a canning factory. John Irvine returned to UK two years later in July 1902. Possibly, Irvine made a home visit before they left--FM Pilgrims received up to a month's vacation each year. Wm. (1867-1941), John (1870-1931) and Mary (d. 1941) McCallum are all buried in the same grave in Karoi Cemetery in Wellington, NZ.
1900, JULY - FIRST RATHMOLYON CONVENTION: The first general Convention (independent from FM) was held at Rathmolyon in connection with the work in the South of Ireland. About 40 Christian Workers met together. John Long reported that G. C. Grubb, Robert Miller, Robert Todd, William Irvine, Edward Cooney and others were there. "It was a spiritual time, and we will not forget that hymn of William Gill’s sung sixteen times: 'Rich are the moments of blessing...' " (Journal, July 1900)
1900, DECEMBER was the last time Wm. Irvine's name appeared on the Faith Mission Staff of Workers List. The January 1901 List of Workers in Bright Words does not include his name (Bright Words Nov-Dec. 1900). From the events above, it seems Irvine may have actually left Faith Mission long before this and had been working on independent lines.
In what ways might Irvine have discontinued associating with Faith Mission? We know he stopped sending in reports about his missions. Did he stop wearing his Faith Mission uniform? (Male Pilgrims wore lapel and motif on pocket) Did he stop sending donations received at his missions? Did he stop setting up or encouraging converts to join existing FM Prayer Unions? Did he start verbally putting down Faith Mission? Did he start preaching messages that were contrary to the Faith Mission beliefs?
THE YEAR 1901 - A MOMENTOUS YEAR…many significant events and developments took place in 1901 in the history of the new fledgling movement. Todd's Mission dissolved and Irvine's Mission was born, with Irvine assuming the role of leader in 1901.
1901: TODD’s MISSION DISBANDS: After Todd’s Mission had existed for 4 to 5 years, it disbanded. Mr. Govan wrote: "Mr. Todd is now appointed to the home secretaryship of the South American Evangelical Mission, with offices in Liverpool, and at the suggestion of himself, and his workers, we [Faith Mission] have agreed to take over the superintendence of their missions" (BW, Sept. 1901).
Faith Mission records shows three Workers from Todd’s Mission joined them in March 1899: L. Oakley, Allan Harkness and his sister Elizabeth and they remained with FM for several years. In 1903, three more of Todd’s sister Workers were added. Govan wrote: “Of these, Sisters Stanley, Winter and Halliday have come to us from Mr. Todd’s Mission in Ireland, now dissolved…Pilgrim Carroll joined Mr. Irvine’s band of workers” (BW, Nov. 1903). John G. Eberstein, Director of Faith Mission wrote:
“As far as M/M Todd are concerned, they were loyal friends of the Mission til they died (Mrs. Todd-1932 and Mr. Todd-1950). Mr. Todd was to become a Congregational Minister...When he died, he (Robert Todd) was still a warm supporter of the F.M. and far from being a Cooneyite. I knew he was not a Cooneyite, as Irvine’s and Cooney's followers were called, but he left the Faith Mission just before Wm. Irvine formed the breakaway movement." (letters to Jim Vail, Dec., 24, 1988* and March 22, 1989*).
Pattison speculates: “I believe the workers jointly and individually felt Mr. Todd was not the man to superintend and direct such an important movement...and ...'Todd's Mission,' as it was then called, shortly became a thing of the past, and I believe I heard later on that Mr. Todd himself had become a sort of a secretary in Liverpool or elsewhere for some foreign mission work” (G. P., Account of the Early Days).
Six to eight Workers in Todd's Mission came over to Irvine's movement. They were: Emma Gill, John Hardie, Thomas Turner, Andrew Robb, George Buttimer and William Jackson; also possibly Jack Jackson, Alex Givan and John Stanley.
1901, JUNE, EDWARD COONEY joined Irvine's movement and began preaching on Faith Lines, calling himself a "Tramp Preacher." Reportedly he disbursed a small fortune of £1,300. Some reports say he gave this money "to the cause," or "to the poor"; others say it went to Wm. Irvine.
Cooney’s first test of faith came when he was to attend the wedding of Bill Carroll and Margaret Hastings in Borrisokane, Co. Tipperary on June 6, 1901. They would enter the work as a married couple in 1903. Cooney had a train ticket as far as Dublin. From there, a fellow commercial traveler offered him a ride to the home of a widow, the mother of a friend of Cooney's. The widow gave him a hearty welcome and asked him to stay the night. He still didn't know how he was going to get to Borrisokane for the wedding. The next morning when he came to breakfast there was an envelope addressed to him on the table. Inside was a note stating that having heard of the life he was going to live, the sender had been moved in the night to get up and deliver the money, which was enough to pay for his fare to the wedding. When Cooney was about to buy his ticket, the station-master refused his money and handed him a ticket with the words: "In the name of the Lord." (Life and Ministry of Edward Cooney, by Roberts, p. 20)
When Cooney left to go in the work, he was so "broke" (penniless) that he didn't have the fare to travel to Bill and Maggie's wedding...obviously, the £1,300 was long gone from his pockets.
The group began to experience rapid growth after Edward Cooney came on board. Already a part time lay preacher, his bold, sincere, earnest style of preaching attracted large crowds and won many converts to the ministry. It was said that the chief motive power was latent until Edward Cooney joined Wm. Irvine. (Read more about Cooney in following chapters.
By 1904 the 2x2 Sect was commonly called "Cooneyites" by the public and press. Cooney was sometimes called the co-founder or co-leader. He was frequently discussed and quoted by reporters in the newspaper. The Impartial Reporter newspaper was situated in Enniskillen, which was the town where Cooney was born and raised and where his father was a prominent merchant and his brother Alfred was a solicitor (attorney):
"They were both members of a community known as the ‘Go-preachers,’ who took this name from Scripture, in which the apostles were exhorted to go forth and preach to all the world. Mr. Cooney was one of the pioneers or founders of the community…" (IR, Dec. 18, 1913, p. 3).
1901, MARCH 31: THE IRISH CENSUS showed three unmarried male "visitors" at the residence of James Wilson Robinson at 3 Castle Street, Nenagh East Urban, Co. Tipperary, Ireland. The occupation given for all these men was Evangelists/Preachers. They were:
William Irvine (age 37, not married, Birthplace: Stirlingshire, Scotland; Religion: Presbyterian)
Irvine Weir (age 22, not married, Birthplace: Dublin, Ireland; Religion: Presbyterian) and
Alexr W. Bradley (age 20, not married, Birthplace: Co. Down, Ireland; Religion: Methodist)
NOTE: The men gave their religion as Presbyterian or Methodist, the faith they were brought up in. Irvine did not give Faith Mission as his religion--as it is not a sect or denomination, but a mission only.
1901, JULY: Ten more workers entered the work this year, including Edward Cooney; nine brothers and one sister worker (Martha "Mattie McGivern) making a cumulative total of 28 workers; or 4 sisters and 24 brothers, including Irvine. The new brothers were: Edward Cooney, Willie Abercrombie, John Cavanagh, Jack Jackson, Jack Little, Donald McKay, Andrew Robb, Ed Rooney, Noble Stinson (List of First Workers at July 1905). These Workers were from a variety of religious backgrounds with various religious instruction and education.
1901: WM IRVINE LEFT THE FAITH MISSION. The Official List of All Faith Mission Workers shows Wm. Irvine left in 1901, with the notation: “founded Cooneyites in S. Ireland.” John Kelly also left that year and "joined Cooneyites." For most of 1899 and all of 1900, Irvine's name was not shown as a FM Pilgrim holding missions, except in the capacity of Superintendent. Govan reported: "During the year, several have dropped out of our list of workers. Pilgrim Irvine has been working on independent lines chiefly in Ireland. Then quite recently Pilgrim Kelly has resigned, and also aligned himself with these independent workers" (BW, Sept. 1901). In any event, it is certain that Irvine either dropped out or was dropped by the Faith Mission prior to Jan. 1901, at which time FM dropped his name from their roster. Parker stated, "In 1901, Irvine resigned officially from the Faith Mission. George Walker and Matthew Wilson witnessed his formal resignation" (Secret Sect by Parker, p. 6). The Author has not located documents confirming Irvine's resignation and witnesses.
1901, AUGUST - FAITH MISSION BECOMES CONCERNED: Because Irvine copied many of the Faith Mission practices, it’s not surprising that the public confused Irvine's workers with the Faith Mission's Pilgrims. This was cause for great concern to Govan, who subsequently issued several statements attempting to set the record straight, and to prevent others from being deceived. Govan tactfully reported:
“When in Ireland I came into closer contact with a movement that has been going on for the past year or two. A number of young people are going out on quite independent lines, holding missions in various parts both of Ireland and Scotland. While there may be much that is good in the devotion and earnestness of those who thus leave all, believing that the Lord has called them thus to follow Him, a number of features of this movement do not commend themselves to us.
"There is no one to judge of the fitness of these workers except themselves; being independent, they are not able to profit from the experience of others older in the work, as they would if there was some organisation; and then some of them have not been long enough converted themselves before going out, and, wanting in Christian experience, are very apt to be unbalanced and one-sided. While we can quite believe that a few of those who have gone out have been truly called of God, we fear that a number of others have been more called of man, or moved by their own impulses, and are really not fitted for the work. As some have been mistaken for Pilgrims, we think it necessary to say that the Faith Mission is not responsible for this movement” (BW, Aug, 1901).
"BEFORE WM IRVINE" - Some have asserted there were families of believers in Co. Cork, Ireland, who met in homes for fellowship predating Wm. Irvine and others who were in the Work at the turn of the 20th century. Among these people are rumored to be some of the Bateman, Burchill and Buttimer families, who have produced many Workers through the years. It is possible Wm Irvine came in touch with people with a simple way of worship which may have helped or influenced him in forming the methods that he would use in his movement's ministry and worship. However, no recorded documentation has been found to support this assertion.
There is an unsupported story that has circulated in the 2x2 Sect that William Irvine’s sister worked for a professing family in Ireland who held Sunday meetings in their home as their ancestors had in their homeland. Reportedly, Irvine’s sister embraced this faith and introduced her brother Wm. to these folks and he also embraced it. Some versions of this story suggest these people had fled to Ireland earlier to escape persecution in their homeland--which country is given variously as Switzerland, the Alps, France, Armenia or Germany.
Early Worker, Robert Darling, is usually credited with giving out this story. Rob started in the work in 1905, seven years after the Sect began and was not one of Irvine's original followers. Rob Darling verbally gave this account to some brother workers in the 1960s. At times, one of them, George Gittins, has repeated this account to groups, interlaced with his personal thoughts. Written notes of George’s talk repeating Rob’s account have been circulated. There are no dates, names or places in the account that can be verified. The accounts of both Rob Darling and George Gittins are based on hearsay and are secondary accounts. There are no other records to support this story and there are none to contradict the “sister story.” There is also no record of Wm Irvine ever giving out this story about his sister.
Some have asserted the 2x2 Workers were preaching as early as 1888. A letter dated January 1971, written by Sister Worker, Hazel Hughes, a daughter of Fred and Mary Ann (Gill) Hughes, has been circulated. Hazel wrote: “our parents' people heard the gospel in 1888.” Other accounts as to when the gospel came to the Hughes family state that Hazel’s parents heard through her mother’s sister Emma Gill in North Dakota. The records show that the Gill family first heard Irvine in 1897 in Ireland and Ellis Island records show that Emma did not come to America until Dec. 1904. This date of 1888 is only found in a single secondary document and is based on hearsay. It is most likely an error in communication or a transcription error. The document is not written by a person who experienced the event described. Hazel Hughes was not born by 1888–she was born in 1894.
Some view 1901 as the year the 2x2 ministry organized or coalesced. The Author believes Irvine's Mission and Workers first united into a Sect, loose-knit group or movement in 1900, possibly in September.
Telling the Truth has a hard copy of the documents, books, newspaper articles, references, etc. used in this book. Any exceptions are noted.
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