David Astley Blackburn
David was born between July and September, 1890 in Blackburn, England, son of William (b. 1865) and Elizabeth Alice Astley (b. 1869) Blackburn, married May 22, 1888. David's father was baptized into the Church of England on June 11, 1865. David's mother was baptized on October 3, 1869. William's parents were John (b. 1836) and Sarah Seed (b. 1840) Blackburn. Elizabeth's parents were David (b. 1831) and Alice Parker Astley (b. 1827), married Dec. 26, 1863.
David's father worked as an overseer in a cotton mill, the overarching industry in the town of Blackburn, named such since at least 1086 A.D., known then as Blachebourne, and noted history includes a royal manor that came into possession of Henry de Blackburn, who divided it between his two sons. Henry was 19-Gen Great Uncle of George Washington, 23-Gen Great Uncle of Lady Diana, 25-Gen Great Uncle of Charles, Prince of Wales, and possibly 21-Gen Great Uncle of Winston Churchill.
The town is located within a green belt region near Greater Manchester. The town is mentioned in a Beatles song "A Day in the Life".
David had an older sister that died as a baby, Sarah Alice Blackburn (1890-1891). Then several younger siblings: John (b. 1893) and William, Jr. (b. 1899), Harold (b. 1901), Cissie (b. 1904), Fred (b. 1906), Richard (b. 1908).
James F. Spink tribute in Light & Liberty
David Blackburn, Pioneer Evangelist
It was a great shock to hear of the sudden death of my dear friend, David Blackburn. He and his friend and co-worker, Frank Moyer Detweiler, were holding meetings in Grace Gospel Chapel, Plumsteadville, PA and on Sunday morning, Nov. 6th, as our brother was on his way to the morning meeting, he was struck down and instantly killed by an automobile. He was 43 years of age and is survived by his mother, four brothers and one sister, all of whom reside in England. Funeral services held in Grace Chapel on Nov. 9th were conducted by John Watt, and the body was laid to rest in Fountainville Cemetery.
We were close friends and had labored together in Bermuda, B.W.I., also down in Virginia, and I can testify to the godliness, grace and growth of our departed brother. Originally from England, he came to this country some years ago, and was in fellowship with the saints who meet in Austin. He left our Assembly for the unreached parts of Virginia, with the fullest sympathy and hearty commendation of all the Christians, and during the years that have passed he enjoyed the fullest confidence of his brethren, as he, in company with Frank Moyer Detweiler faithfully pioneered with the gospel.
Bristol and Marion, Virginia, are two monuments of their labors, for in each place there is a testimony resulting from their tent work.
David Blackburn was an evangelist. His warmth of heart and passion for souls, and love of the gospel distinguished him as such. Evangelists are preachers, but all preachers are not evangelists. He believed that God called him to the southern states, and there he stuck, "enduring hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ." He never tried to please the people, nor lowered his message by entertaining the people with witty remarks. He preached Christ in a way calculated to move the hearts of his hearers, and all could tell that he felt what he was saying. God blessed his earnest preaching to the salvation of many precious souls.
Our brother spent much time in prayer and meditation. He agonized for souls, and he prayed for all the home and foreign workers. On his last morning on earth he refused to take breakfast, preferring to spend the time in prayer and communion. Now he is with the Lord "face to face".
We cannot understand why one so young and so useful should be taken home, but it is not for us to question, for He who sees the end from the beginning knows what is best for us all. David will be greatly missed in Virginia by those who heard the gospel through him, and will be sadly missed by Frank Moyer Detweiler, and those who loved, and labored with him.
We'll catch the broken thread again, and finish what we here began; Heav'n will the mysteries explain, and then, ah, then, we'll understand.
Frank Moyer Detweiler tribute in Light & Liberty
The words in Genesis 5:24 have been re-enacted in the life and death of my dearly beloved brother and fellow-laborer. I first met David at the Moody Bible Institute, Chicago in 1923. He was then a very earnest Christian but not until a year later did he see the principles of gathering to His Name alone. He was born in Clitheroe, England and came to western Canada twenty-one years ago.
He became greatly exercised about the lost and perishing and gave his life for the proclamation of the Gospel. This led him to give up his farm in Canada and prepare him for the mission field at the Moody Bible Institute. While there, he saw that the divisions in Christendom were wrong and that the principles of worship were not practiced in the church, so he took his place among the people who gather in His Name alone, embracing all the Lord's people in their fellowship, unless Scripturally barred.
He then found an open door for the Gospel in the mining camps in Virginia where he and W.F. Hunter labored together for over a year. In 1927, I met him again during which summer we began our tent work in Bristol, VA. For the past six years we have labored together, practically all the time except for short periods during the winter. Our hearts were knit together in the bonds of the Gospel, somewhat akin to David and Jonathan. I do greatly miss him, since his seat is empty. It is hard to think we shall not meet again until the Resurrection Morning. God's ways are past finding out.
There are many outstanding memories of David's life. He rarely allowed anything to keep him from reading his Bible and praying every morning. For the past four years, it was his practice to read prayerfully through the New Testament each month as well as a few books in the Old Testament. He could quote many chapters by memory. His last message given Saturday night before his home-call Sunday at 9:30 a.m. was on the work of the Holy Spirit from Luke 15: "Searching for the Lost Coin". As I recall him walking down the road, the words "David walked with God, and he was not; for God took him", come ringing into my ear in literal fulfillment.
We say with one of those to whom he ministered often by correspondence, who penned these following lines in memory of him: He has held us, swayed us, stirred us, we have hung on every word; Till we fain would rise to follow, not him, not him, but His Lord. He was one of those of whom we can safely say, "Whose faith follow, considering the end of their life." (conversation) Hebrews 13:7