Garton, James Witter (1831-1913)

Transcription of obituary published in the Primitive Methodist Magazine by G.S.H.

James Witter Garton, of Leven, in the Hornsea Circuit, passed away on June 28th, 1913, at the age of eighty-two years. For sixty years he had been an outstanding figure in Primitive Methodism of the East Riding. His character was marked by a sane piety, a dauntless zeal, a sunny optimism and a magnificent generosity. An active local preacher up to the time of his passing, for a few months in his early Christian life he was a separated minister of our Church, but a sense of unworthiness for the task drove him finally into business, and prosperity in the things of this present life came to him.

But the Church which “found” him was his chief care. Small in stature, quaint and homely in speech, broad in outlook, racy in humour, his influence and value in both pulpit and Sunday School was very great indeed. His own youthfulness of spirit, and his interest in young people and in new movements, never left him. He was never out of date. At one time or another he filled every office open to him in his beloved church; he was a Methodist and a Radical at a time when it was almost impossibly hard for a successful man to profess such principles in the villages; his home was open house for the ministers; from the initiation of Primitive Methodist foreign missions he was an advocate, supporter and collector. 

At the Conference of 1912 he was elected a deed poll member, and he was anticipating and preparing for his visit to Derby when death came to him. 

His was the largest funeral in the history of the village.


James was born in 1831 at Atwick, Yorkshire, to parents John Garton, a labourer, and Ann Witter. He was baptised on 20 march 1831 at Atwick.

Census returns identify the following occupations for James.

  • 1851 sea-side labourer
  • 1861 grocer & draper and tea hawker
  • 1871 grocer
  • 1891 grocer
  • 1901 grocer & draper
  • 1911 grocer

He married Jane Taylor (1821-1877) in early 1858 at Skirlaugh, Yorkshire. Census returns identify three children.

  • William Taylor (1859-1922) – a draper, grocer & provisions dealer (1911)
  • Robert Taylor (1862-1933) – a chemist (1901)
  • James Taylor (1865-1919) – a general dealer (1911)

He married Ann Winn (1834-1916) in late 1880 in the Gainsborough Registration District, Lincolnshire.

James died on 28 June 1913 at Leven, Yorkshire.


Primitive Methodist Magazine 1913/996

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

Comments about this page

  • Thank you very much for transcribing this, Geoff. James Witter Garton is my 3x great-grandfather and it is wonderful to find a source that adds such colour to his story.

    By Pete Dewhirst (15/01/2023)

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