Baitson, William (1833-1867)

Transcription of obituary published in the Primitive Methodist Magazine by J Toulson

“What, though short thy date,
Virtue, not rolling suns, the mind matures:
That life is long which answers life’s great end.”

THE REV WILLIAM BAITSON, eldest son of Joseph and Mary Milson Baitson, was born at Broomfleet, in the parish of South Cave, in the county of York, February 5th, 1833. His beloved parents being consistent and devoted members of the Wesleyan body, were watchful over the interest of their son, instilling into his mind religious principles, and teaching him to “remember his Creator in the days of his youth.”

In April, 1849, they apprenticed him to Mr. John Pearson, a God-fearing man, and devoted member of the Wesleyan society, residing at North Cave. On the following Sabbath he attended a prayer-meeting; while there he was powerfully awakened, his soul was melted, his spirit was truly contrite, and he resolved to find salvation. He returned home and prayed most fervently; but though he wept, prayed, and struggled, he did not find salvation that night; the morning dawned on him a guilty, but penitent, sinner. For several days he carried his load of guilt and sin.

On May 19th he attended the Wesleyan class-meeting, and before the leader could speak to him he fell on his knees and cried aloud for mercy. After a hard struggle, deliverance came; his prayer was heard, his sins were forgiven, the peace of God entered his soul, prayer was turned into praise, and he was enabled to rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.

Having given himself to the Lord he was emboldened to make a public profession of religion, and was welcomed to the privileges of church fellowship. In his journal he says: – “I received my trial ticket amongst the Wesleyans of the Rev. Joseph Edgoose, and continued with them upwards of two years. When the reformers began to agitate that body, my leader was expelled; the majority of the members followed him. The class passed into the hands of another leader; I remained with them a few weeks; things were very unpleasant and unsettled, and after much prayer and many tears I resolved to leave their fellowship, and sought and found a home among the Primitive Methodists. I received my first ticket from the Rev. George Lamb, August, 1851; made my first attempt to preach at South Cave, January, 1852. After the usual preliminaries, my name appeared on the preachers’ plan of Hull 1st circuit. In 1854 I removed from the Hull circuit to Pocklington circuit.”

Being a young man of good natural abilities and full of promise, the September Quarterly Meeting recommended him to the reserved list, and on the 19th of October, 1855, he was called out by the General Missionary Committee into the work of the Christian ministry. For twelve years he was a useful, faithful, earnest and able minister of the New Testament.

He commenced his labours on the Hammersmith mission, and was subsequently appointed twice to Canterbury, once to Walworth, Reading, Ryde, Newport, Torquay, and then returned to Hammersmith to finish the work God had given him to do. On each of his stations he laboured with credit to himself, and pleasure and profit to the people. He was wise in winning souls.

In 1861 he entered the marriage state with Miss Pearson, daughter of his former master, who now survives to mourn her loss. He was called to pass through the waters of affliction, but he invariably regarded them as designed to prevent evil, or to correct for evil, or as a mode of discipline to make him more meet for the “inheritance of the saints in light.”

My acquaintance with brother Baitson commenced when he left Hammersmith, in 1855, and continued uninterrupted till he was called from the church militant to the church triumphant. As a friend he was frank, open, generous, and sincere; as a son he was strictly submissive and dutiful; as a husband he was kind and indulgent; as a Christian his experience was clear, sound, practical and scriptural; his path was that of the just, “shining more and more unto the perfect day.” As a minister, his intellectual attainments were of a high order, and his services were duly appreciated in town and country. His sermons exhibited considerable talent, were clear, forcible, and convincing. 

The Rev. James Hall, of Scarborough, who travelled with him in the Isle of Wight, says, ‘‘I cannot tell you how much I respected, esteemed, and loved the late W. Baitson; being his colleague for some time I know something of his value and worth, something of his thorough devotedness to the interests of the Connexion, and something of his earnest, self-denying, and plodding labours in connection with our home missionary work. In his death, I am sure the Missionary Committee has lost a valuable servant, one that was ever planning, contriving, and labouring for the good of the station on which he travelled. He was a ‘good minister of the Lord Jesus Christ.’ He was a workman who needed not to be ashamed, and if they live long who live well, then our dear brother has not died so young as will in the first view appear.”

The Rev. Moses Lupton, of Darlington, writes:- “My dear brother Toulson, – In reply to your favour of the 6th inst. permit me to say that although I was well acquainted with brother Baitson’s poor state of health, yet I was taken by surprise when I heard of his death, having indulged the hope that he would ultimately regain his strength. I can most freely testify to his character, having had five years of intimate official acquaintance with him. I considered him to be a man of inflexible integrity, of sound, genuine piety, and of strong and steady attachment to Primitive Methodism. He was stationed in 1860 for the Isle of Wight, and continued there three years, during which period his mind and physical energies were taxed severely by the serious chapel difficulties of that station, yet by patient perseverance he surmounted them, and left the station in an improved condition. In 1863, as General Missionary Secretary and Superintendent, I selected him for the Torquay station, which, in consequence of its peculiar chapel case, and other difficult matters, required a person of good mental powers, ministerial abilities, and sound Primitive Methodistic tendencies, and l am satisfied that in these he fully met the expectations of the committee. Brother Baitson, to a stranger, presented a rather stern, cold, and forbidding nature, but after a little acquaintance that disappeared, and he was found to possess a kind, genial nature. By his death, the Missionary Committee and the Connexion have lost a valuable agent, and a respectable and devoted minister.”

The Rev. Thomas Jobling, Missionary Secretary and Superintendent, bears the following testimony: – “the whole of my private and official transactions with the late Rev. W. Baitson, I invariably found on his part a development of the traits of a true Christian, a sound Primitive Methodist, a good disciplinarian, an efficient superintendent minister; he was also very acceptable in his pulpit labours, and a man of unwearied effort to advance the cause of God in the welfare of precious souls.”

His health had been failing for some time, still he did not murmur or complain, but he cheered himself with the sentiment he so often sang:-

“My rest is in heaven, my rest is not here,
Then why should I murmur when trials are near?
Begone unbelief, for the worst that can come
But shortens my Journey, and hastens me home.”

On Christmas day he thought he would like a little change, and went to dine with Mr. Cox, the mission steward; in the afternoon he did not feel so well as usual, but rallied in the evening about eight o’clock, when he attempted to return home: he was seized with shortness of breath, and it was found necessary to convey him home in a cab. Every attention was given him, and medical skill resorted to, but in vain. 

On Thursday, Mrs. Baitson said “How do you feel in your mind, my dear?” And he said, “All’s right, I have nothing to fear at last.” A few hours after he said, “I think I can sleep a little.” He laid his head upon the pillow, and without a sigh or groan “fell on sleep,” a little before one o’clock on the morning of December 27th, 1867; in the thirty-fourth year of his age.

On Thursday, January 2nd, 1868, his remains were followed to Brompton Cemetery by a considerable number of ministers and friends. The writer improved his death the same evening in Hammersmith chapel to a sorrowful and an attentive congregation. In the prayer-meeting one soul found peace.


William was born on 5 February 1833 at Broomfleet, Yorkshire, to parents Joseph, a farmer, and Mary.

Before entering the ministry, William was apprenticed to a carpenter.

He married Dinah Pearson (1829-1889) in the summer of 1861 at Broomfleet, Yorkshire.

William died on 27 December 1867 at Hammersmith, London.

After William died, Dinah returned to Broomfleet and worked as a grocer and dressmaker (1871). She married James Atkinson, a farmer, in the spring of 1872.


  • 1856 Canterbury
  • 1857 Walworth
  • 1858 London II
  • 1859 Reading
  • 1860 Isle of Wight
  • 1862 Newport IoW
  • 1863 Teignmouth & Torquay
  • 1866 Hammersmith


Primitive Methodist Magazine 1868/220

PM Minutes 1868/10

W Leary, Directory of Primitive Methodist Ministers and their Circuits, 1990

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers


Transcription of obituary published in the Minutes of Conference

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