The Bible: It Just Might Save Your Life – Literally

March 2, 2015  - by 

The Word of God has been known to save the lives of many on a daily basis.  And then there is John Brotherton, 1729-1809 (MD4H-4T5). The Bible saved his life – literally. In the mid-1700s Brotherton was in fierce hand-to-hand combat when a bayonet pierced through his belt, several layers of clothing, and 52 pages of his pocket Bible. That Bible slowed down the bayonet and saved his life.

According to Brotherton’s obituary in the Hampshire Gazette, when he left “his native cottage” to join the British Army, he “took with him a small Bible, determining to make it the companion of his marches.” Faith made Brotherton a better man. His family was deeply religious and John himself was described as a man of “boldness and intrepidity” with a demeanor that was “gentle” and “without offense,” setting him apart from his fellow soldiers.

Selected Daily Afterlife

John Brotherton served with his regiment during the Seven Years’ War (1754-1763). (In America this is called the French & Indian War.) While we don’t know the specific battle when that pocket Bible saved his life, John’s obituary tells us that he fought in Germany against the French at the Battle of Minden in 1759.

This illustration gives us a good idea of the fierce, hand-to-hand fighting that John Brotherton experienced during the Seven Years’ War.

Brotherton served faithfully, returned home, and lived to be 80 years old.

Thanks to GenealogyBank, John’s gripping story is passed on to us today.

According to his obituary, one of Brotherton’s brothers was given this special Bible at the time of his death.

Does the family still have this heirloom Bible? Do they know why there is a large gash in it? Do they know the details of John’s military service and how this Bible saved his life?

Obituaries showcase life. While some obituaries may only give a line or two about the deceased, many include important stories. Brotherton’s miracle inspires us all to value life, and be thankful for the things that keep us alive. Family history helps connect us to the stories of our past.

GenealogyBank lets us dig deeper into the times our ancestors grew up in, and find the details of their day-to-day lives. We all have a John Brotherton in our family tree. We only need to look and find their story.

GenealogyBank’s deep newspaper archive of over 1.7 billion records holds story after story about the people who built this nation, along with their births, marriages, and deaths. Find your ancestors’ stories today and see what they’ve done. Find your John Brotherton.

 

 

Battle of Minden
Battle of Minden, 1759 – by Richard Caton Woodville (1825-1855).

Sources:

Image 1: GenealogyBank.com, Hampshire Gazette (Northampton, Massachusetts), 22 November 1809, page 3.

Image 2: Battle of Minden, 1759 – by Richard Caton Woodville (1825-1855). Source: Wikipedia Commons.

Thomas Jay Kemp is the Director of Genealogy Products at GenealogyBank. Tom is an internationally known librarian and archivist, and the author of over 35 genealogy books and hundreds of articles about genealogy and family history. He Tom has been working in libraries and archives for over 50 years.

Tom previously served as the Chair of the National Council of Library & Information Associations (Washington, D.C.) and as Library Director of both the Historical Society of Pennsylvania and the New England Historic Genealogical Society.

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