Rev. William Sykes

This page is dedicated to our First Worshipful Master

Rev.William Sykes

The Rev.William Sykes was born at Barrow-in-Furness on July 24th, 1861. Both of his parents died while he was young; his mother when he, the youngest of her four sons, was only six weeks old, Captain Sykes (a Sea Captain) when he was only seven years of age. He was brought up by his maternal grandmother. Mr.Sykes’ first occupation was that of teaching; but, while he held the post of headmaster at Bewcastle, in Cumberland, the Rector of that place, The Rev. Titus Laurie, encouraged and enabled him to take Holy Orders. At St.Aidan’s Theological College, Birkenhead, he was the Senior Student. At his Ordination he was “Gospeller.” In 1885 he married Miss Anne Jane Dodgson, of Thwaites in Cumberland. Five sons and three daughters were born between the years 1886 and 1907. They all survived their father. In 1916 Mrs.Sykes died, and he married again to Miss Emily Bartlett Knocker of Tunbridge Wells.
He was ordained at Trinity in 1889, and his first curacy was at St.Clement’s, Broughton, Manchester. In the following year he became curate at St.John’s Church, Tunbridge Wells to the Rev. T.W. Weston. When a few months later Mr. Weston died, some of the congregation would have liked to have their curate made Vicar, however in May 1891, he went as curate to St.Bartholomew’s, Carbrook, Sheffield. This was a fine church, and there were many miners in the parish.

After four years diligent work there, Rev.Sykes was given the parish of Hillsborough and Wadsley Bridge where he was Vicar for twenty-four years. Whilst there he raised £11,000 for a new church. In Sheffield he did much open-air work, addressing crowds of people, and answering with patience and God-given wisdom all kinds of questions put to him. He took a great Protestant stand, and was well known in the city on account of his voluminous newspaper correspondence on controversial subjects. In 1912 he was agent in Sheffield for the signing of the Ulster Covenant. During the Great War he joined the Special Constabulary, becoming a Sergeant, and also being appointed Chaplain of the Walkley Division of the Sheffield Police. For many years he was on the Sheffield Board of Education, and did good service in connection with religious education. He was also a member of the Sheffield Board of Guardians for a number of years.

Whilst at Hillsborough, Rev.Sykes formed a religious union on “Free Grace” lines, and later, in 1913, became the first President of the “Sovereign Grace Union” which position he held until his death. He always enjoyed the Annual Conferences in Camberwell, and was a splendid chairman. Shortly before the close of his life he joined “Motherland” Lodge of Freemasons in London; he was also a member of various Friendly Societies.

In 1919, he accepted the Living of Audley, in Staffordshire. This parish was a large and scattered mining one, and during the nine and a quarter years of his Vicariate there he endeared himself to the miners, whom he served strenuously. A serious illness in 1927 led to him resigning the Living of Audley and he retired to Southborough in Kent where he died on August 24th, 1930, in his 70th year. He was buried four days later in St.Peter’s Churchyard, Southborough. A brother Orangeman said of him: “Never faltering in his devotion to the ‘old standards,’ bringing to his advocacy of the ‘old paths’ the fruits of careful research, sound scholarship, and an emphatic affirmation of, and unquestioning belief in the Bible as the Word of God, our departed friend was much sought and much used in the maintenance of the Evangelical faith and practice…A worthy and reliable friend and counsellor, valiant in the warfare of the faith, of knightly courtesy, and scrupulous fairness to opponents, of particularly marked tenderness, unsparing of self or means in the prosecution of his many and onerous duties, we mourn the loss of no common-place man, but a ‘leader in Israel’.”

A prominent Orangeman, he was up till his death Senior Deputy Grand Chaplain of the Grand Lodge of England, also Grand Chaplain for the Province of England of the Imperial Grand Black Chapter. He was first W.Master of John E.Bingham LOL 844 when the Lodge was founded in 1914.