Joseph Scriven 1819-1886
Joseph Scriven is most famously known for writing the hymn, “What a friend we have in Jesus”. He was born in 1918 in Ireland where he attended Trinity College School of Dublin. He completed his BA there in 1842. He was due to be married on graduation when tragically his fiancé fell of her horse while crossing a bridge where he was waiting on the other side. Many feel this event led Joseph to seek out some of the new religious sects that had sprung up around Dublin at the time. One of these was the Plymouth Brethren. The Plymouth Brethren trusted the absolute gospels and felt there was no need for the pulpit, clergy or other traditional church vestments. Each man was to minister himself.
He came to Canada permanently in 1847 and worked as a tutor and preacher. He eventually came to Port Hope and the Bewdly area and was again engaged. He was 39 at the time and she was 22. Sadly, her baptism (to convert her to the Plymouth Brethren) was in very early spring at Rice Lake. The very cold temperatures combined with a lingering illness lead to pneumonia and she passed away 4 months later.
Throughout his later life Joseph worked with the poor of Port Hope and surrounding area. He ministered on the streets and held very few worldly possessions. Upon his death the papers were reported to say that he died a good man without an enemy in the world.
His Hymn is known the world over and in 2009 the monument in Memorial Park, across Queen Street from the Mary J. Benson Branch, was refurbished and given the drystone addition. Today many people from all over the world come and lay flowers to remember him. For more information please see porthopehistory.com.