Ball, James (1833-1870)

Transcription of obituary published in the Minutes of Conference by John Judson

JAMES BALL was born at Edgegreen, Lancashire, March 10, 1833, and died at Hollinwood, in the same county, March 2, 1870. His mother died when he was very young, so that his early training devolved upon his father, who tried by precept and example to lead him to Jesus. He says, “It was through my father’s influence that I was led to Christ. I was converted to Almighty God when I was fifteen years of age, My change did not take place in a large chapel, but in my father’s house at a week-night prayer meeting. Blessed be God! I was happy, ‘Naught disturbed that peace profound which my unfettered soul enjoyed.’ After a time, I was deemed suitable for the local preachers’ plan, and in 1850 I preached my first sermon in a cottage at Vulcan Foundry. I was under great nervous excitement, but the people were blest.” 

In the summer of 1853 he was called out to labour as an itinerant preacher, the following being the stations in which he travelled:- Chorley, Blackburn, Haslingden, Knowlwood, Peel, Chester, and Oldham Second. In each of these stations his labours were blessed by God. On leaving Chorley one of the officials remarked, he was like silver, the longer he was worn the brighter he became.

In July, 1868, he came to Oldham, rather weak and feeble in body, but was able to attend his appointments, until the latter end of the year, when he began to spit blood and was laid aside from his duties for five months. His affliction was sever, but God supported him in the fire, and so far restored him, that he was able to attend to the principal part of his appointments until the month of November last, when he was compelled to relinguish his labours altogether. He wrote thus to the Circuit Committee:-

“Hollinwood, January 6th 1870.
“My Dear Brethren in the Lord Jesus Christ. – I am now compelled by dire affliction to place all my work in your hands. I have now been sinking for some time, until at the present I can almost peep into the grave, and I do think that the time of my departure is at hand. Brethren, my circumstances at present are of all seasons the most solemn that can happen to mortal man. I am ready to weep while I write, but bless God I am quite happy. Jesus is very precious. I hope you will be divinely directed in supplying my appointments on the plan. Dear brethren, in conclusion allow me to say that I wish to have a share in the sympathies of all your hearts, and every time you pray put my poor name in. These requests come from a very poor creature, and are written with a trembling hand, but I think I shall have a response from loving hearts.
God bless you.             I am, yours very truly,
James Ball.”

Some of his last words were as follows: “Oh, I never had as much religion in all my life as I have now.” “Not a cloud doth arise to darken the skies, or hide for a moment, my Lord, from my eyes.” “Oh, what a cloud of glory!” “Oh the atonement, the precious blood of Jesus!” Whilst we were singing, “What is this that steals upon my frame; is it death?” he clapped his thin hands, and in ecstacy said, “Bless Him, bless Him. Glory, glory, glory! Oh, what a heavenly breeze!”

A short time before he died he asked his wife to read to him, who read the 46th Psalm, and then with great fervour and power he prayed for his family, the church, and the world, and then committed himself, his wife, and his children into the hands of God. On the evening of March 1st he was very weak, but perfectly conscious, and gave us to understand the heavens were bright, and that all was right with him. He lingered until the following morning, when he breathed his last, in the thirty-seventh year of his age, and in the twelfth year of his ministry. He was a good preacher, an affectionate husband and father, a peaceable and agreeable colleague, but above all we believe he was a sincere Christian. May his dear widow and two little daughters be comforted and directed by the God of heaven.


I have not been able to identify James in online records. Can anyone point me in the right direction?


  • 1858 Chorley
  • 1860 Blackburn
  • 1861 Over Darwen
  • 1862 Haslingden
  • 1863 Knowlwood
  • 1865 Peel
  • 1867 Chester
  • 1868 Oldham II


PM Minutes 1870/13

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

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

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