Bowe, William (1841-1913)

Primitive Methodist Magazine 1897
Primitive Methodist Magazine 1914

Early years

William was born on 6 March 1841 at Bolton on Swale, Yorkshire to parents George and Hannah. George was a cordwainer. George was converted under Joseph Spoor and became a local preacher. William’s mother was a lifelong Primitive Methodist who died aged 93. She was an enthusiastic worker for bazaars. William’s obituary records that ‘ her knitting needles were truly consecrated’.

William worked as a boot and shoemaker before entering the ministry.

At the age of 17, William joined the Consett church in the Shotley Bridge circuit. Within three years he became a Sunday School teacher, class leader and local preacher.


As a preacher, William was not at his best on special occasions, or in new circuits. He was most popular in stations where he remained longer than three years. When best known he was most appreciated. In address he was quiet and thoughtful, not oratorical or declamatory, but always impressive, instructive and uplifting.

William served for eight years as District Committee Secretary whilst in the north-east and also undertook the same role in the Liverpool District whilst at Preston.

William became a proficient scholar in Hebrew, Greek and German. In superannuation he often joked that he had two hobbies – the culture of chrysanthemums and the study of Hebrew grammar. William, and other Primitive Methodist Ministers in the north-east learned their Hebrew through the Jewish Rabbi at North Shields. William himself always worked hard as a helper and mentor to students during his ministry.

William was a keen cyclist and maintained it had been great for the good of his health.


William married Ann Hull (1838-1891) in late 1866 at Hexham, Northumberland. Census returns identify four children.

  • Frederick G (b abt1868)
  • Alfred John (1870-1897) – a merchant’s clerk (1891)
  • William Henry Lee (1872-1947) – a secondary school teacher
  • Cicely Anne (1874-1948) – married Jacob Wilhelm Schopp, a lecturer in modern languages.

William married Elizabeth Jane Bennett nee English (1866-1938) in the summer of 1904 at Darlington, Co Durham.

William died on 20 April 1913 at Darlington, Co Durham.


  • 1862 Berwick
  • 1864 Allendale
  • 1865 Whitby
  • 1866 Staithes
  • 1868 Durham
  • 1869 Spenymoor
  • 1870 Westgate
  • 1873 N Shields
  • 1875 Seaton Delaval
  • 1879 Stanley
  • 1884 Newcastle I
  • 1889 Durham
  • 1893 Preston II
  • 1898 Whitby
  • 1900 Darlington
  • 1905 Darlington (S)


Primitive Methodist Magazine 1897/243; 1914/153

PM Minutes 1913/16

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

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers



Comments about this page

  • William Bowe appears on the 1871 census as minister of Wearhead Chapel. He was living with his wife and two sons at West Black Dean (Blackdene).

    By PJ Watson (20/10/2020)
  • William Bowe wrote a paper as part of a Symposium on ‘The Position of Woman in the Church’, PM Quarterly Review, 1885, pp436-432. His views were clearly influenced by his mother’s role in the church!

    By Jill Barber (20/06/2019)

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