Batterbee, William Miller (1841-1915)

Transcription of obituary published in the Minutes of Conference by Arthur Banham

WILLIAM M. BATTERBEE. – At King’s Lynn on April 6th, 1915, the Rev. W. M. Batterbee died at the age of 74. He was born at Dersingham, his father being a woodman on the estate of the late King Edward Mr. Batterbee senior was a firm adherent of our Church, and was the means of a Sunday School being commenced, of which he was for many years the superintendent. The father’s earnest conviction and intense enthusiasm for Primitive Methodism descended to the son, who at the age of 18 became a Local Preacher. Our late friend was filled with an unbounded desire to fit himself for his preaching work. He became a student, joining a night school. At the age of 24 he was called to the ministry, and, after satisfying the examiners, he went straight to his ministerial work on the Stowmarket Circuit.

East Anglia has one peculiarity – it is able to draw out the love of several Primitive Methodist ministers, so that they have no desire to go elsewhere to labour. There are a few who have spent their whole ministerial career within the borders of what was the old Norwich District. These men have stamped their impress upon the circuits in this area, and have had the joy of making not simply acquaintances, but real, life-long friends. Mr. Batterbee was one such. The whole of his ministry was spent in East Anglia, and there was hardly a Primitive Methodist home where he was not known and a very welcome visitor. 

He was very popular both with young and old. His disposition was always sunny and his manner genial and brotherly. As a preacher his messages were always helpful and stimulating. His vision of spiritual things and his grip of the essentials of our religion made him not simply a preacher of sermons, but the deliverer of a message that was vital and urgent. The gospel he preached was a strenuous one, and he lived it as well as preached it. He travelled at Stowmarket, Briston, Ely, Wisbech, Lowestoft, Wymondham, Watton, Soham, Cambridge, Fakenham, and Swaffham. 

No one understood the business of a Primitive Methodist minister better than he did. He always left his stations better than he found them. He loved work, and he laboured for the spiritual welfare of the churches under his care. His spiritual children are to be numbered by the score, and many of them are workers to-day in the Church. Debts were reduced. Trust properties were improved, and the societies were built up in faith. His greatest work was done at Fakenham towards the close of his ministry. The friends there were worshipping in a poor building, the entrance to which was by a yard. A vision of a new building more in harmony with modern requirements was in their minds. It was Mr. Batterbee who materialised that vision. For years he worked hard, walking miles every week to secure promises of help, sometimes discouraged, but never beaten, and to-day the chaste and beautiful Buckenham Memorial Church stands a monument of his industry and faithfulness. 

He has served the Lynn and Cambridge District as Missionary Secretary, Building Committee Secretary, and Candidates’ Examiner. In 1912 he superannuated, and at the Lynn District Meeting a presentation was made to him, and many tributes were paid to his fine record. Since then he settled in King’s Lynn, and he has been a fine help to the church and circuit. His active spirit found scope in his work as Secretary of the Local Temperance Council and also Secretary of the Free Church Federation. Almost every Sunday he was preaching somewhere and addressing meetings almost every week. A fortnight before his death he attended the Free Church Council Meetings at Manchester. 

For some weeks his health appeared to be failing, and the doctors advised an operation. This was only partially successful, and another was seen to be necessary. From this second he never recovered. He was interred quietly in the Lynn Cemetery on April 10th. The Revs. C. Shreeve (a life-long friend), A. Banham, H.H. Woodward, T. Woodall, and A.E. Tucker took part in the burial service. Friends from far and near attended the funeral to pay their last tribute of respect to one whom they regarded as friend and comrade in the work, Great sympathy is felt for his widow and children in their loss. Our brother’s body was committed to the grave, but he still lives on-in the district he loved in the holy influence he generated and the lives that have been made better by his presence.


William was born in 1841 at Dersingham, Norfolk, to parents William Batterbee, who worked the land, and Mary Miiler. He was baptised on 26 August 1841 at Dersingham.

Before entering the ministry William also worked on the land.

He married Agnes Binks (1848-1933) in the summer of 1871 in the Docking Registration District, Norfolk. Census returns identify twelve of thirteen children.

  • Agnes Augusta (1872-1963) – married Edward Albert Harvey, a letterpress printer, in 1901
  • Claudius William (b abt1874)
  • Ella Louise Mabel (1876-1961) – married Arthur Sales Morris, a boot and shoe dealer, in 1904
  • Maurice Sidney (1878-1929) – a carriage shunter (1911)
  • Elise Mary Maria (abt1880-1937) – worked for the Post Office
  • Evelyn Beatrice (1881-1949) – a companion (1939)
  • Herbert Leslie (1883-1919) – a carpenter (1911)
  • Winifred Lillie (1886-1967) – a housekeeper (1939)
  • Olive Gertrude (1886-1985) – married Wilfred S Leaphard in 1919
  • Edith Helen (1888-1976) – a children’s nurse (1911)
  • Dorothy Hilda (1889-1969) – a milliner’s assistant (1911); married Harold T Waters in 1916
  • Edna Maggie (abt1892-1985) – a postal clerk (1911); married Wilfred G Weller in 1915

William died on 16 April 1915


  • 1867 Stowmarket
  • 1868 Norwich
  • 1869 Briston
  • 1871 Ely
  • 1874 Wisbech
  • 1879 Lowestoft
  • 1883 Wymondham
  • 1886 Watton
  • 1890 Ely
  • 1895 Soham
  • 1898 Cambridge II
  • 1901 Watton
  • 1905 Fakenham
  • 1911 Swaffham
  • 1912 Kings Lynn (S)


PM Minutes 1915/11

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

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

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