Carmichael, John Edwith (1840-1917)

Primitive Methodist Magazine 1918
Primitive Methodist Magazine 1918

Transcription of obituary published in the Primitive Methodist Magazine by B. Moore

The Rev. John E. Carmichael was born at Workington in 1840. There he spent most of his life, and there he died on July 16th, 1917. His bent towards theology early betrayed itself, and in 1860 he preached his first sermon as a local preacher at Distington. In 1863 he entered the ministry, his first station being Guisboro’. Subsequently, he travelled at Shotley Bridge, Whitby, Barnard Castle, Allendale, and Bishop Auckland. Ministers were in labours more abundant in those days, and as a young man, Mr. Carmichael was not the one to spare himself. As a local preacher, he had thought nothing of walking twenty miles on the Sabbath and taking five services.

His health gave way beneath the strain, and after nine years’ strenuous service, he had to retire from the ministry in 1871. He then returned to Workington, settling in business as a bookseller. He continued to preach in and around his native town as long as strength allowed. When the present John Street Church was about to be built, he preached the last sermon in the old building, and his subject, appropriately enough, was “Excelsior.” He kept a careful record of his sermons and labours, which it has been most interesting to peruse. There must have seemed a touch of tragedy about his early breakdown, even to himself. But it had its rich compensations. What his work lost in extensiveness, it gained in intensiveness. If he preached less in the great congregation, he taught more, and perhaps taught better, in the smaller class. If no longer an active minister, he became a maker of ministers. Amongst the ministers whom he helped to train were two Primitive Methodists, two Wesleyans, one Congregational, one Baptist, and one Church of England. In the record of his classes he makes mention of a teachers’ preparation class, a theological class, a homiletical class, a philosophical class, a moral science class, and an essay class, which may have borrowed something from all the rest. When confined to the house, these classes were held in his own home, where his hands were loyally upheld by his wife and daughters.

For many years his health did not permit him to take an active part in Church work, or even to attend the public services. But his interest in all that appertained to life and godliness was maintained to the last. Converse with him was always stimulating, for he always kept the alert and open mind. Though a keen observer of current events, he always kept his grip on eternal things. It was a benediction to visit him in his retirement, and to enjoy his sage counsel and ripe experience. At his funeral the Rev. E. Campbell attended as the representative of the Carlisle and Whitehaven District Committee, and the Rev. P.N. Kennedy, Vicar of Wythop, bore fitting tribute to his worth and work.


John was born in late 1840 at Workington, Cumberland, to parents Stephen, a painter, and Margaret. He was baptised on 27 December 1840 at St Michael, Workington.

John worked as a painter before entering the ministry (1861).

He married Mary Ann Chadler (1848-1911) in the summer of 1868  in the Durham Registration District, Co. Durham. Census returns identify six children.

  • Margaret Jane (1869-1942) – married William Rickard in 1916
  • Beatrice Mary (1872-1908) – a national school teacher (1891)
  • Lydia (1875-1909) – married Herbert Vincent Nelson, assisting in family coal merchant business (1911), in 1908
  • Fanny (b1876) – a post office clerk (1901); married Robert Henry Banks, a post office sorting clerk & telegraphist (1911), in 1903
  • Meliora (1880-1973) – married Alfred Colling, a manager of newspaper offices (1911), in 1902
  • Clarissa (1885-1962) – an elementary school teacher (1911); married James Howard Messenger, a clerk (1911), in 1913

John died in July 1917 at Workington, Cumberland.


  • 1863 Guisborough
  • 1864 Shotley Bridge
  • 1866 Whitby
  • 1867 Barnard Castle
  • 1869 Allendale
  • 1871 St Helens Auckland
  • 1872 Whitehaven (Sup)
  • 1874 Workington


Primitive Methodist Magazine 1918/139

PM Minutes 1918/250

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

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

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