Reay, Philip (1848-1899)

Transcription of Obituary In the Primitive Methodist Magazine by William Gelley

On Wednesday, Feb. 8, 1899, Mr. Philip Reay, of Annfield Plain, passed peacefully to his rest, after a long illness which practically extended over two years. On the Sunday prior to his death he took a stroke from which he never recovered consciousness.

He has resided in this district for nearly thirty years, and has taken a very prominent part in the educational, industrial, and religious welfare of the people amongst whom he lived.

In the days of his boyhood he lived at Leadgate and received his first impressions for religion. He at once joined our Church, and at the age of sixteen began to preach in the Shotley Bridge Circuit, which at that time included the stations of Stanley and White-le-Head.

When he left Leadgate he came to reside at Lintz Colliery, and as his health was not good, he was employed by the Quaker lady, Miss Braggs, as a Scripture reader. After being in this position for two years, he finally settled at Annfield Plain, and was check-weighman for the workmen for some twenty years.

During the whole of his life he has been a most devoted worker for our Church. He has filled every office in our station. He was trustee for some half-dozen of our chapels. He was society steward for over twenty years at Annfield Plain, station steward, leader, and Sunday School superintendent.

He had also an unquenchable zeal for revival work, and for weeks together he has travelled every night in the week, and held revival meetings in all parts of the station without fee or reward. He had wonderful aptitude in giving a real rousing open-air address at the street corners of our colliery villages. l have seen him catch fire in a prayer meeting, and sing until the presence and power of God has been felt in every heart, and sinners cried for mercy.

He took the most active and generous interest in the erection of the most handsome chapel which has been built in the station; and when some would have faltered and turned back, his confidence was unshaken; and the effort has proved one of the most successful and prosperous in the circuit, which is largely due to his unselfish and untiring efforts.

He was a good and useful man, and though he sometimes made mistakes, and was faulty in conduct, yet take him all round he was a most loyal Primitive Methodist and a sincere Christian.

His funeral was the largest ever seen in the district. Indeed, there would scarcely be a Primitive Methodist Society within a radius of twenty miles that was not represented.

Prior to going to the cemetery, a special service was held in our Annfield Plain Church, conducted by the Revs. W. Gelley and D. Hyles. The service was of the most impressive character, and the church and school were crowded in every part, and outside a dense crowd lined the streets as his remains were carried to their last resting-place. His name and influence will be long remembered in this locality.

Sympathetic reference was made to his death at our last Quarter Day, and it was resolved to send a letter of condolence to Mrs. Reay, which has to be lithographed and framed.


Philip was baptised on 5 November 1848 at Tanfield, Co. Durham. He was born at Burnopfield, Co. Durham, to parents William, a miner, and Hannah.

He married Elizabeth Arkless (1848-1912) on 7 October 1868 at the Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, Shotley Bridge, Co. Durham. Census returns identify four children of seven children.

  • Hannah Jane (1869-1948) – married John Robinson, a colliery winding engineman, in 1892
  • Edward Arkless (1871-1941) – a grocer (1911)
  • Philip (1879-1948) – a bricklayer (1911)
  • Mary Elizabeth (b abt1885)

Elizabeth was a confectioner after Philip’s death.


Primitive Methodist Magazine 1901/389

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

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