The Mother of Octavius Winslow, Mary Forbes (1774–1854) had Scots roots but was born and raised in Bermuda and was the only child of Dr. and Mrs George Forbes. On September 6, 1791, when she was just 17, she married Army Lieutenant Thomas Winslow of the 47th Regiment. Shortly after this, she came under spiritual convictions and was brought to gospel deliverance while pleading the promise, “Ask, and ye shall receive”. Christ Himself powerfully told her heart, “I am Thy salvation!” and she was saved.
Mary and Thomas Winslow went on to live in England and Octavius was born in Pentonville, a village near London, on August 1, 1808. He was the eighth of 13 children. Those children recorded in the family bible of Robert Winslow, brother of Octavius, are:
- Thomas Forbes (1795)
- Isaac Deblois (1799)
- Edward (1801)
- George Erving (1804)
- Henry James (1806)
- Robert Forbes (1807)
- Octavius (1808,
- Forbes (1810)
- Emma (1813)
- Mary (1814)
Sadly, Thomas and Mary had three children who died before their first birthday. They are:
- Mary (1814)
- Robert Deblois (1798)
- Mary Elizabeth (1803).
Octavius seems to have been given his name because he was then the eighth surviving child.
Thomas was from a wealthy family but by 1815, following his retirement from the army, he suffered ill-health and the loss of his fortune due to one of several national financial disasters that occurred in this period. A decision was soon made to move to America, but before Mr. Winslow could join his wife and children in New York, he died. At the same time, their youngest child died too. Octavius was but 7 years old.
Widowed at 40, responsible for a large family, and scarcely settled in America, Mrs Winslow’s entire life was turned upside down. Worst of all, spiritual darkness and despondency overwhelmed her for many months. They were a deeply religious family and Octavius later wrote a book about their experiences from his mother’s perspective in a book entitled Life in Jesus.
Family historian D. Kenelm Winslow recorded their plight:
|“||Mary had the youngsters out on the streets of New York selling matches and newspapers as soon as they were old enough for such tasks. She set them to any job they could tackle, gathering them around her at night for scripture reading followed by a good sound evangelical harangue and prayers.||”|
Mary and her children lived in New York City until 1820. Then, after a four month visit back to England, they would then move to Sing Sing, NY on the Hudson River for “four years of congenial repose”. In 1824, they would move back to New York City for a season of “special revival” where brothers Octavius, Isaac, and George would become converted and later convinced of God’s calling to ministry.
Winslow was saved under the ministry of Samuel Eastman, pastor of Stanton Street Baptist Church in New York City. On Wednesday, April 11, 1827, Octavius shared his testimony and professed his faith in his Savior. He would later be baptized in the Hudson River on the Lord’s Day of May 6 at 4pm. Mary would later pen this:
|“||My children are earnestly engaged in bringing sinners where the Holy Ghost is displaying His mighty power. They visit from house to house, dealing faithfully with all they meet who know not God|
Wonderful Article from Theology for Girls.
hat a constant source of temptation the world is, in some shape or other, to the believer all through his journey homeward! Its cares and its pursuits, its pleasures and its claims, lawful though they be, yet, through the weakness of the flesh, are a constant snare to the heavenly pilgrim! Its principles and its spirit are adverse to the prosperity of the soul, which struggles on through a host of foes. “Precious Jesus, strengthen Your poor dust, and enable me to cling closer and closer to You.”