Smith, George Charles
Smith, George Charles an English Baptist, known for more than half a century all over England as "Boatswain Smith," was born in London in 1782, brought up religiously by a pious mother, and went to sea while a boy. He was forcibly impressed into the king's service in the last century, and transferred into various ships of war, visiting most of the seaports of Europe. He fought in the battle of Camperdown, the battle of Copenhagen, and was engaged in the mutiny at the Nore. The dreadful scenes of immorality he witnessed on board ship and in seaports impelled him after his conversion to devote his life as a missionary to sailors and soldiers; and with a constancy, a persistency, and a self-denial quite heroic, he spent nearly sixty years of his life in that toilsome work, night and day often, and every day. In 1804 he began his labors at Plymouth, in 1807 was ordained to the ministry at Devonport, and in 1809 established the first Sailor's Gospel Mission at Monnltony. The work was blessed by God with the conversion of sailors, and he began to itinerate to all the British seaports, preaching everywhere, and supporting himself by holding his hat for gifts after he had preached. In 1810 Reverend Dr. John Rippon aided Mr. Smith to establish a Sailor's Mission for London, at his chapel, Carter Lane, by the river Thames. He wrote and published a dialogue in the sailor's dialect, and also the immensely popular story of The Cabin-boy, Bob. In 1814 he joined the duke of Wellington's army in the Spanish Peninsula as soldiers' missionary. In 1817 he resumed his labors among the sailors, and established the first Floating Chapel and the Bethel Union Society. He also commenced, and edited to the month of his death, The Soldier's and Sailor's Magazine, containing for over forty years some of the most remarkable experiences ever put into print, but it was so genuine and honest, though rough and illiterate, that it led the way for the lords of the admiralty to make many changes and improvements in the navy and in the conduct of ships. He established sailor's homes and seamen's friend societies; he benevolently took charge of numerous orphan children of sailors and soldiers; they travelled with him, he preached for them, mostly in the open air, daily and the boys with their caps collected what was the means of their support for many years. He died at Penzance, Cornwall, January 10, 1862.