Clennell, John (1878-1962)

Englesea Brook Chapel and Museum of Primitive Methodism
Englesea Brook Chapel and Museum of Primitive Methodism

Transcription of Obituary in Minutes of Methodist Conference

Born at Kimblesworth in the County of Durham in 1878.

When he was a child the family moved to Oxhill and he was nurtured in the virile Primitive Methodism of the Stanley Circuit.

He entered Hartley College in 1903 where he had a distinguished career as a student and in 1905 began his Ministry in the South-East London Mission.

Two years later he moved to Eastbourne where he remained for seven years to the joy and profit of his people. From then on, his ministry lay in his native North. Sheffield, Alston, Crook, Blyth, Spennymoor, Hetton, Stoke on- Trent and Sunderland-all were enriched by his many gifts and graces.

In 1946 he retired to Middleton-in-Teesdale and three years later he moved  to Ilkley where for five years he gave devoted service as an active supernumerary.

Thereafter, continuing to reside in Ilkley, he enjoyed a happy and congenial retirement; his intellectual grasp remained with him to the last day and he rejoiced in the opportunity of exercising the ministry of encouragement to all the preachers he heard so eagerly.

He was a widely read, courageous, versatile and friendly man with resources for a very varied ministry. He was at home in many realms of thought and activity and his deep knowledge and wide experience were consecrated to the task of preaching and the cure of souls.

He was a great fighter for social causes and his social passion sprang, not from political ends but from his love of truth, justice and people, itself the fruit of his love of our Lord.

He was entirely devoted to Jesus Christ. The proclamation of the Gospel and its application to every department of life was the joy and desire of his heart. He fought a good  fight and he fought in love.

He died on 29 May 1962 in the eighty-fourth year of his age and the fifty-seventh year of his ministry.

©Trustees for Methodist Church Purposes 1962


John was born on 3 October 1878 at Kimblesworth, Co. Durham, to parents Foster, a coal miner, and Margaret.

Before entering the ministry, John worked as a coal miner.

He married Edith Isabel Curry-Wood (1879-1957) in the summer of 1909 in the Lanchester Registration District, Co. Durham. Census and birth records identify two children.

  • Irene Edith (1910-1990) – married Arthur Mothersdale in 1978
  • Nancy Isobel (1914-1998) – a school teacher (1939); married Ralph Lowery in 1942

John died on 29 May 1962 at Ilkley, Yorkshire.


  • Hartley
  • 1905 London Mission
  • 1907 Eastbourne
  • 1914 Sheffield I
  • 1916 Alston
  • 1919 Crook
  • 1924 Blyth
  • 1927 Spennymoor
  • 1933 Hetton
  • 1938 Stoke, Burslem
  • 1939 Sunderland S
  • 1941 Supernum
  • 1943 Crook (AC)
  • 1946 Spennymoor


Methodist Minutes1962/216

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

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

Comments about this page

  • Jim Simmons, a Primitive Methodist, ILP member, and ardent ‘Socialist evangelist’, recalls an occasion when he went to address an open air Socialist meeting in a mining village and the ‘comrade’ who borrowed a chair for him to stand on, and acted as Chairman, was a Primitive Methodist minister – the Rev John Clennel.  (Jim Simmons, Soap-box Evangelist, 1972, p101)

    By Jill Barber (09/12/2014)

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