The conversion of the wife of a keeper of a prison



My father now became possessed with a strong desire to go to Baldock, the scene of his troubles, awakening and conviction. He had played his fiddle in the public-houses there for years. He felt he had done great mischief, and that now it was his duty to do what he could to repair that harm. He and his two brothers started for Cambridge. It was their custom to do evangelistic work as they proceeded on their way, and consequently their progress was not rapid. They stopped for the night just outside Melbourne and placed their wagons at the side of the road. The horses were tied to the wheels of the wagons and were given plenty of food. Then the brothers went to bed. At four o'clock there was a knock at the front door, and a voice shouted "Hallo there!"

"Who are you?" my father asked.

"I am a policeman, and I have come to take you into custody."


"There is a law made that if any gipsies are found stopping on the road for twelve miles round they are to be taken up without a summons or a warrant."

"You must take care," said my father, "what you do with me, because I am a King's son!"

When my father got up and dressed himself he found that there were four policemen awaiting the brothers. They were handcuffed like felons and marched off to the lock-up, a mile and a half distant. All the way the three converted gipsies preached to the policemen and told them that God would bring them to judgment if they neglected Him, that they would be witnesses against them at the great day, and would then declare in the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ that they had faithfully warned them to flee from the wrath to come. The officers made no reply and marched on. It is very certain that they had never had such prisoners before, and had never heard such a lengthy discourse as they did that night. For my father preached to them a sermon a mile and a half long. In the cells the gipsies fell on their knees in prayer and asked God to touch the hearts of the policemen. Then they sang -

"He breaks the power of cancelled sin,

He sets the prisoner free."

The keeper said that they must not make such a noise. The gipsies asked him if he had read of Paul and Silas having been put into prison, and he said, "Yes." Then they inquired of the policemen whether they knew what Paul and Silas did. They answered, "They sang praises to God." "And so will we," said the gipsies; and they began to sing again -

"His blood can make the vilest clean;

His blood avails for me."

The keeper gave them rugs to keep them warm, and his wife brought them hot coffee and bread and butter. My father gave her a little tract, entitled, "The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses from all sin," and told her the story of our Lord's death for sinners. She drank in every word, and there and then trusted Christ as her Saviour. In the morning the brothers were brought before the magistrates and fined 25s. each, or in default they must go to prison for fourteen days. They had no money, but their fines were paid - by whom they never knew.

When the three gipsy brothers got to Baldock they told the people that they had been locked up at Melbourne, and the news spread on every hand, with the result that the interest in the meetings was very greatly increased. The first service was outside a public-house, and the landlady and her daughter were converted. The meetings were held in a meadow, and so great were the crowds that policemen were sent to keep order.


From: Gypsy Smith (1860-1947) His Life & Work By Himself

First Printed in 1901 in London as a 363-page book.