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Rodney (Gipsy) Smith: Evangelist

Gipsy SmithRodney Smith ("Gipsy Smith"): Methodist evangelist; born at Wanstead (6 miles northeast of London), Essex, England, March 31,1860. He is of Gipsy parentage, and was converted at the age of sixteen. In 1877 he became an evangelist under the auspices of the Christian Mission of London, and preached successfully in various places, particularly at Whitby, Sheffield, Bolton, Chatham, Hull, Derby, and Hanley. Meanwhile, the Christian Mission had developed into the Salvation Army, and in 1882 Smith was dismissed for a technical breach of discipline. He continued to preach in Hanley, however, but in 1893, after conducting evangelistic services for a time at Hull, made a brief visit to Sweden. Returning to Hanley, he remained there until 1886 when he resigned to resume evangelistic work, being engaged in these labors until the end of 1888. Early in 1889 he visited the United States, conducting services in various cities, returning to England later in the same year and becoming connected with the Manchester Mission. In 1891 he again visited the United States. In 1892 he conducted services in Edinburgh, and from this grew the Gipsy Gospel Wagon Mission, devoted to evangelistic work among his own people. He visited America for the third time in 1893. After a five months' revival in Glasgow in 1893-94, Smith went to Australia, preaching at Adelaide, Melbourne, and Sydney, after which he returned to England by way of the United States. In 1895 he preached in London, Manchester, Edinburgh, as well as in many smaller cities, and in 1896 paid his fifth visit to America, returning to England and conducting brief evangelistic campaigns until 1897, when he became first missioner of the National Free Church Council. This position he still retains [in 1911], and in this capacity he has conducted revivals throughout England, besides paying still another visit to the United States in 1907. [Gipsy Smith died in 1947].

Bibliography: Gipsy Smith, His Life and Work (autobiography), new ed., New York, 1907.

From The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge... New York: Funk and Wagnalls Company, 1911.

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