James, William Samuel (1851-1913)

Transcription of obituary published in the Primitive Methodist Magazine by F.R.B.

Mr. William James was born at Stratford-on-Avon in 1852, and died on April 13th, 1913. His sixty-one years were counted off in abundant labours and with the ceaseless desire of reaching the ideals of life that dwelt in his heart. The struggles of his early days were fought single-handed. His first religious impressions were gained in the Established Church, and when he one day entered a Primitive Methodist Chapel and listened to a plain and unlettered preacher, he found that his heart was ready to respond to the urgent call. 

In a short time Mr. James was a preacher, Sunday School teacher, and class leader. For forty years he had the joy of preaching the Gospel. He took a great interest in all that belonged to the work and prosperity of the Church of Jesus Christ. The best graces of his life flourished in the religious atmosphere of his home. His gentleness and fatherly care were never lacking whenever his wife or children needed his care. 

His religious fervour did not cool down after he left the church gates, but was sustained in all his domestic relationships. No one was more sensitive of his limitations than Mr. James, and he often longed to do more, although he worked as hard as two men. At the funeral there was great respect and honour shown by a large number of people who assembled. Revs. C.L. Tack and F.R. Brunskill conducted the funeral service. Mr. Tack spoke of the noble service of the deceased brother, and expressed the universal sympathy that was felt for the bereaved family. Walsall is the poorer for the loss of so worthy a brother, and he will be greatly missed in our Church there.


William was born in late 1851 at Stratford on Avon, Warwickshire, to parents Samuel Bayley James, a joiner, and Matilda Marshall.

Census returns identify the following occupations for William.

  • 1871 saddler
  • 1881 brown saddler
  • 1891 brown saddler
  • 1901 brown saddler & PM local preacher
  • 1911 brown saddler

He married Fanny Elizabeth Brice (1858-1919) on 15 October 1878 at Bloxwich, Staffordshire. Census returns identify ten of eleven children.

  • William (b1880) – boot & shoe maker (1901)
  • John Thomas (1881-1925) – a boot & shoe maker (1901)
  • Joseph Isaac (1885-1959) – a painter (1901); a police constable (1911)
  • Matilda Elizabeth (1887-1970)
  • Beatrice Mary (1889-1956) – a tailoress (1911); married Benjamin Charles Birkin in 1922
  • Leonard (1892-1975) – a boot maker (1911)
  • Ethel (b1894) – a tailoress (1911)
  • George Ward (1896-1978) – a bridle cutter (1911); a construction engineer’s joiner (1939)
  • Miriam (b1898)
  • Fanny (b1900)

William died on 13 April 1913 at Walsall, Staffordshire.


Primitive Methodist Magazine 1913/664

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

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