Rushby, William, MC
1876-1945; e.m. 1904

Born on 13 February 1876 in Grimsby into a poor but well-cared for family. Following his mother’s death, he was brought up by his grandmother and like her became an agricultural worker. He was also a successful champion cyclist, until the death of a friend in a race caused him to give this up in 1896. He was encouraged by Thomas Champness to train as a Lay Evangelist. Despite his early lack of education he distinguished himself in both the academic and sporting life at Headingley College. During his first appointment at the ManchesterBarrow-in-Furness and Salford Mission he started the Central Hall Brotherhood and there as well as at the new Barrow in Furness King’s Hall, pursued his vision as a social reformer of helping the sick, offering loans to the needy, and opening a ‘labour registry’, together with opportunities for young men to become athletes.

In 1914 he became an army chaplain, rising to the rank of Major and being awarded the Military Cross. ‘During several days’ operations he continually went forward under heavy fire and attended to the wounded. On one occasion he saved the life of a wounded officer by carrying him to safety under close-range machine-gun and sniper fire.’ In 1918 he was mentioned in despatches and awarded a bar to his MC while serving in the fifth Battle of Ypres Salient.

After the end of hostilities his hatred of war led him to become a powerful Peace Advocate’ and public supporter of the League of Nations Union; also of many social reform movements, including the National Birth Control Association. He supported the Labour Party, speaking on the same platform as such leading figures as Clement Atlee. During his ministry in Wallasey he had a lasting influence on the young Fred Pratt Green. He died on 26 November 1945.

Sources
  • Athletic News, 25 May 1896
  • The Sportsman, 26 August 1907