Ritson, Joseph (1830-1902)

Transcription of Obituary in the Christian Messenger

JOSEPH RITSON.—On January 18th, 1902, our Society at Westgate-in-Weardale lost one of its oldest and best-known members by the death of Mr. Joseph Ritson. Born in 1830, he lived all his life in the neighbourhood of Westgate. His mother being left a widow with a large family, Joseph had to commence work in the local lead mines at about ten years of age, and consequently had but few educational advantages. In these circumstances it will also be easily understood that he did not suffer much from the enervating effects of luxury. In his earlier days he was a great athlete, very widely known as a good wrestler, a clever dancer, a good shot, and a keen angler. Up to his death he was generally one of the first to succeed in catching the big fish that came up the Wear in the autumn. He is credited with having secured the largest fish ever caught in Weardale with rod and line – it weighed 15 lbs.

Thirty-six years ago he joined our church, and although he never held any official position, his quiet, constant, consistent, and deeply-pious life has left its mark on the church. His public prayers – often commencing with “Lord, teach us how to pray,” and generally rising to a triumphant outburst of faith in “Lord, we believe! ” – were remarkably powerful and electric in their effect, and will be among the inspiring memories of the church for many years to come. During the latter part of his life he suffered from rheumatism. One day, after about a month’s confinement to his bed, he somewhat suddenly turned to his wife, and said, “Mary, I’se gannin! ” and shortly after he was “gone.” But though Joseph Ritson was “gone,” devout men respected his very dust, and a large concourse of friends followed his remains to the Westgate Churchyard.



Joseph was baptised on 2 October 1831 at St John’s Chapel, nr Stanhope, Weardale. His parents were William and Mary.

Joseph was married to Mary (abt 1838-1909). Census returns identify three children.

  • Mary Hannah (1866-1873)
  • William (b1868) – a general labourer (1891)
  • Frances (b1870)


Christian Messenger 1902/351

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

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