Houghton, Joseph (1840-1908)

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

The little church at Shorne in the Gravesend Circuit has suffered a great loss in the death of Mr. Joseph Houghton, its senior steward and junior Circuit steward. He was born at Culmworth, near Bedford, and came to Shorne thirty-seven years ago. He was drawn to our small cause which met in a room, and soon became a member. He lived a beautifully consistent life, and amidst the strain and stress of a business which had to be made, maintained an integrity and uprightness of character which commended him to all and ensured success. When prosperity came, one of the first things he did, was to present sufficient land for a chapel, which was built and is now out of debt. He delighted in God’s House, was invariably in his place, and his face shone as his soul drank in the Word. He was much given to hospitality, not only to our preachers, but to others. He seemed to be under the special care of God, and he realised it. When young he was thought to be dead, and only by an act of violence to prepare his limbs for burial was the existence of life discovered.

When seeking employment, and his heart failing him for fear, he entered a chapel in London, and the singing of the hymn, “Begone unbelief, my Saviour is near,” broke the spell of depression and temptation, and next day he found work. At a crisis in his business, when disaster threatened to overwhelm him, he entered a wood and near an old stump of a tree pleaded with God, consciously obtained His answer, and found full deliverance the same week. Like himself, he went back to that old tree where he had pleaded for help, and with many tears gave thanks for deliverance.

While respectful, gentle to a degree, and full of charity and graciousness, he upheld under trying circumstances his Free Church principles.

Some time ago he had a severe sickness, and when not fully recovered met with an accident which kept him for weeks in bed, until it became clear that he was called home. In the early morning of April 3rd, 1908, he went to be “with Jesus, which is far better.”

At his funeral service held in the chapel, and at the interment in the churchyard by his own minister, large numbers were present, from far and near, an eloquent testimony to the esteem in which he was held. Two of those who carried his body to the grave were his spiritual children, for though never a preacher he was ever a missionary.

His children are following in their father’s steps, and his widow waits the call to join her husband in the Master’s presence.


Thomas was baptised on 2 February 1840 at Colmworth, Bedfordshire. His parents were Thomas, a blacksmith & farmer, and Elizabeth.

Census returns identify the following occupations for Joseph.

  • 1861 journeyman miller
  • 1871 miller
  • 1881 baker
  • 1891 miller, baker
  • 1901 retired baker

He married Emily Knights (1835-1924) in early 1864 in the Islington Registration District, London. Census returns identify two children.

  • Eleanor Elizabeth (1865-1950) – married Henry Colenutt, a market gardener, in 1889
  • Arthur Knights (1870-1958) – a baker

Joseph died on 3 April 1908 at Shorne, Kent.


Primitive Methodist Magazine 1908/493

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

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