Bright, Thomas (1858-1917)

Transcription of obituary published in the Primitive Methodist Magazine by J.W.V.

Born at Wem, Salop fifty-eight years ago, Mr. Bright entered the ministry when twenty-three years of age, and served the following circuits:—Bury (Lancs), Bury St. Edmunds, Dereham, Norwich, Ipswich, and a second term at Bury St. Edmunds. The writer first became intimate with him during his first superintendency in Norwich II. Station, and often shared his happy and hospitable home-life. The historic Norwich Circuit had just been divided, and the new station wisely invited the second minister to take charge. They proved that he had not spent his time in vain as one of the first batch of Hartley students, and as a colleague of such statesmen as John Mould and John Welford.

From Norwich he removed to spend a brief but successful term in Ipswich, and then obeyed an imperative call to Bury St. Edmunds. Under his leadership the church there speedily removed from a small sanctuary in a back street, secured a large Congregational chapel, and a commodious house adjoining as a manse, and revolutionised our position in the town. For eleven years he served that wide circuit with energy and success, and, at the same time, managed the business of an important executorship which had been placed in his hands. At the end of that term, despite the deep desire of the station to retain his services, he felt compelled to relinquish the itinerancy, but still continued to the end a frequent and fruitful ministry in the offices and pulpits of the Church he had served for nearly thirty years. In the presidency of the Free Church Council, in educational and political leadership, and as a town councillor, he also “served his generation by the will of God” until called to the higher employment of heaven at the comparatively early age of fifty-eight.

He was a strong man, strong and clear in thought and expression. As a preacher he was definite, pointed and arresting, and a precisian in his exact use of the English tongue. He was a lover of music and of reverent forms of worship. He was a great friend of young people, and had strong influence over them. He was absolutely fearless in the advocacy of his principles, yet all parties in the town combined to show their respect when his old friend, John Burnip, preached his memorial sermon. He was happy and fortunate in his home-life. His wife’s unfailing co-operation was of untold value to him in all departments of his full and busy life. To her, to their sons (now serving their country), to their daughter, a wide circle of old friends tender their deep sympathy.


Thomas was born on 13 November 1858 at Wem, Shropshire, to parents Thomas, a coachman, and Ann. He was baptised on 12 December 1858 at the Wem PM Chapel by Rev. William Edmund Saunders.

He married Edith Ellen Snell (1863-1940) in the summer of 1887 at Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk. Census returns identify three children.

  • Frank Thomas (1888-1966)
  • Wilfrid James (1890-1978) – a school master (1939)
  • Muriel Edith (1893-1979) – married William Thomas Hinsley in 1920

The 1911 census records the family running a mineral water manufacturing company in 1911, whilst Thomas is recorded as a nonconformist minister.

Thomas died in early 1917 at Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk.


  • 1883 Bury
  • 1885 Bury St Edmunds
  • 1887 E Dereham
  • 1889 Norwich II
  • 1895 E Dereham
  • 1896 Ipswich & Hadleigh
  • 1901 Bury St Edmunds
  • 1911 ceased


Primitive Methodist Magazine 1917/509

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

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

Comments about this page

  • I have added Thomas’ obituary published in the 1917 PM Magazine, along with his picture.

    By Geoff Dickinson (27/03/2024)

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