James Jershom Jezreel was born in 1851. His birth name was James Roland White. He enlisted in the British Army on 27 July 1875, and joined the sixteenth Regiment of Foot in Chatham, in Kent. The young man became obsessed with a religious sect known in England as the Jezreelites.
Jezreel was convinced he was the “Messenger of the Lord” and he was responsible for the erection of Jezreel's Tower in Gillingham in 1881. The Tower stood 120 ft. high until it was demolished in 1961. After the Tower was razed to the ground, a sealed bottle was discovered under a foundation stone containing details of the sect. The bus stop, which now occupies the site, is actually known locally as the Jezreel's bus stop.
The strange sect was founded by Joanna Southcott who believed she would give birth to the new Messiah – even though she was sixty-five years old! Joanna Southcott died in 1814, childless, of course.
Armageddon and Jezreel
The name, Jezreel, is a real place in the lower Galilee Region and is found in the “The Revelation to John” which refers to Armageddon and the battle between good and evil. In Jezreel, the Phoenecian princess, Jezebel, a powerful and influential woman, persuaded her husband, King Ahab, to give up his Jewish god and instead worship the Phoenician god, Baal.
Jezebel’s husband was eventually killed by his enemies in war and was succeeded by his sons. Elisha, the prophet, anointed Jehu to be king and to overthrow the monarchy.
Queen Jezebel dresses to die at Jezreel
Jehu commanded that Queen Jezebel, whom he described as a witch, be killed by defenestration, which meant she was to be flung from the window. “When Jezebel heard about it, she painted her eyes, arranged her hair and looked out of a window.” There she waited for her fate.
“When Jehu arrived, he told his eunuchs: “Throw her down.” So they threw Jezebel down, and some of her blood spattered the wall and the horses as they trampled her underfoot. Jehu went in and ate and drank. “Take care of that accursed woman,” he said, “and bury her, for she was a king’s daughter.” But when they went out to bury her, they found nothing, except her skull, her feet and her hands.” Jehu was content, saying, “Jezebel’s body will be like refuse on the ground in the plot at Jezreel, so that no-one will be able to say, “This is Jezebel.” From then on, “Jezebel” was a derogatory term for “fallen woman” or prostitute.
James Jezreel and The Flying Roll
Jezreel wrote a book, “The Flying Roll” which was a collection of three sermons. Its flyer was headed, “TIME IS RUNNING OUT” and continues: “Current events clearly indicate that it is God’s purpose to overthrow the present order, which has run nearly the allotted 6000 years, to be replaced by the glorious reign of the Lord Jesus. This will bring unimaginable peace and happiness to mankind.” The book cost £4, which was a great deal of money for any book at that time.
However, its author, the sect’s founder, James Jezreel, was not the upstanding pillar of church and society that his position implied. Although insisting that his followers abstain from drink, Jezreel was continuously drunk - unseemly behaviour for the leader of a religious sect who was supposed to set an example to his flock.
Eventually, Jezreel became an alcoholic and he became ill and died on 2 March, 1885.
Murder & Crime, Medway, Janet Cameron, Tempus Publishing, Gloucestershire, 2008.
“The Tower of Mystery Surrenders its Secrets” Stephen Rayner, the “Memories Page” Medway News, May 2006.
Holy Bible – New International Version, Hodder and Stoughton, London, Sydney, Auckland, Toronto, 1979.