Smith, Franklin George
1859-1955 e.m. 1885

Born in the autumn of 1858, the son of Thomas Smith, a Wesleyan Local Preacher, and his wife Marianne, in Maidstone, Kent. Both were of longstanding Methodist families. He was educated at Maidstone Grammar School and Richmond College, before being posted to Barcelona. In 1888 he was stationed in the Balearic Islands in place of William T. Brown (1822 -1899; e.m.1879). When Robert Simpson ( -1900; e.m 1876) returned to England, Smith took on the added responsibility for Barcelona. He remained in the Islands until the outbreak of fanaticism in 1893 which put at risk all that his ministry had achieved. In Lent 1893 a ‘Holy Mission’ was launched with the aim of destroying Protestantism in Spain. The appointment of J. G. Wheatcroft Brown (1859-1947; e.m. 1882) to the Bodmin circuit in 1896 left Smith as the only minister in Spain. In 1898, when Charles C. Porri (1874-1945) was appointed to Barcelona to assist Smith, there were 139 members in Barcelona and 124 in the Balearic Islands. With tenacity and confidence he heroically held together the work in Spain. Hs ‘evangelical witness aroused much opposition and on more than one occasion his life was threatened’. He was largely responsible for the successful development of the Christian Endeavour movement in Spain. He translated several religious books for children. He was a member of the committee responsible for the revision of the Spanish New Testament and compiled a Spanish-Greek lexicon.

After 32 years’ service in Spain he returned to be the Superintendent of the Kineton Circuit and later served in the Doncaster Priory Place, Beverley and Marazion Circuits. He married Marie Laurence Empaytaz of Sonvillier, Switzerland. Two of their four sons, Douglas George Smith MC and Roderick Franklyn Smith MC and Bar, were killed in World War One. On his 95th Birthday he preached at Union Street Methodist Church, Maidstone where his Mother had been baptized on 5th September 1824. At the time of his death on 9th March 1955 aged 96 and in the 71st year of his ministry, he was the oldest Methodist Minister.

Sources
  • Findlay G.G. & Holdsworth W.W., History of the Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society, Vol 4 (1921) pp.427-440
  • Methodist Recorder, 17 March 1955