Bickerton, Thomas Henry (1867-1955)

Primitive Methodist Magazine 1922
Primitive Methodist Magazine 1922

Early years

Thomas was born in 1867 at Dawley, Shropshire, to parents Samuel and Sarah. Samuel was a miner.

Thomas received his early spiritual impressions at Dark Lane Tabernacle, where his father was a prominent official. He was converted during the ministry of Rev J Tristram and received his first class ticket in 1882, when aged fourteen. In December of that year, Thomas was given a ‘note’ for the preacher’s plan. Thomas became a class leader whilst he was still in his teens, and his reputation for piety was such that old folk and young alike attended his class.

Although nominated for the ministry by Rev Henry Roe, it was not until Rev Walter Pedley’s persuasion and encouragement that he decided to leave business and enter the ministry.


Thomas was a fine preacher and a sound exponent of the faith. His sermons showed spiritual insight and knowledge of human nature, and glowed with evangelistic fervour, making his message forceful and arresting.

For many years Thomas served on the Connexional General Committee.

His obituary records that Thomas gave himself to church building and debt reduction, managing to combine effective administration with evangelical fervour and pastoral ministration.

For some years he was the organising secretary for the Metropolitan Missionary Meetings held in Spurgeon’s Tabernacle. Conference sent Thomas to Belfast to oversee the transfer of Primitive Methodism in Ireland, a tribute not only to his ability but also to his Christian graciousness and tactfulness.

On retirement, Thomas served as an active supernumerary at Battersea before settling at Belmont. There he became Free Church chaplain for Battersea Cemetery, and later, for St Helier General Hospital.


Thomas married Isabella Ann Phillips (1867-1946) in late 1896 in the Risbridge Registration District, Suffolk. Census returns identify five of six children.

  • Samuel Thomas Leslie (1897-1916) – died in WW1
  • Dorothy Annie (b1899)
  • Sarah Gwendoline (1900-1987) – married Albert J Cunningham in 1955
  • Clifford Phillips (1904-1940) – died in WW2 air raid
  • Lilian Mary (1909-1988) – married Alec Butt in 1935

Thomas died on 16 May 1955 at South Carshalton, Surrey.


  • 1893 Harringay
  • 1895 Biggleswade
  • 1896 Whickham Brook
  • 1899 West Ham
  • 1902 Penge & Bromley
  • 1905 Belfast
  • 1909 Stoke Newington
  • 1913 Forest Gate
  • 1916 Marylebone
  • 1922 Camden Town
  • 1923 New Wandsworth
  • 1930 Thanet
  • 1933 London (Sup)


Primitive Methodist Magazine 1922/182

Methodist Minutes 1955/142

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

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers


Comments about this page

  • Dorothy Annie is my grandmother and Rev. Tom was still alive when I was born in 1953 so I met him, although I don’t remember! Dorothy married Theodore Lee and they had 2 girls, Jean in 1924 and my mother Audrey in 1926. Dorothy died in 1982 in Sutton. My sister Beverly and I and our 5 children are the only direct descendants of Rev.Tom.

    Rev Tom’s missing child from your list was a son, Alan, born in 1903 I think, and he sadly died after a few weeks in the same year.

    I found your information about Rev. Tom very interesting and it was lovely to see such clear photographs of him and Isabelle. Dorothy looked more like him and her sisters were like their mother, particularly Lillian ( known as Mollie). Dorothy was born when they were in Norfolk, the place they lived was Wickhambrook, not as written above. 

    Samuel (known as Leslie) died on the first day of the battle of the Somme 1st July 1916 at Gommecourt. He has no named grave but is one the “known only by God” in the cemetary there. His name is on the memorial at Thiepval. His name was read out at the Tower of London this year. We were very proud.  Apparently Rev Tom preached the following Sunday following news of his death.

    His brother Clifford,  a civilian, was killed by the blast from a bomb together with his wife and child (Brenda).

    By Karen Weston (24/12/2014)

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