Coad, James William (1847-1918)

Transcription of obituary published in the Minutes of Conference

JAMES W. COAD was born at Tuxilian, near St. Austell, Cornwall, preached his trial sermon for the plan at St. Blazy, was sent out to travel as a minister in 1871. During 45 years he was on the active work, and, being blessed with good health, a well-knit body, a cheerful spirit and an earnest soul, he was tireless in his endeavours to win souls and extend as well as maintain all the interests of his circuits. He began his ministry at Bristol, afterwards labouring in the order given at Pillawell, St. Ives, Brynmawr, Cheltenham, Falmouth and Truro, Dartmouth, Walworth, Margate, Dunstable, North Bow, Battersea and Brixton, and finished up with a nine years’ term at Rotherhithe and Deptford. Thus 24 years were spent in London, where he rendered unique service. 

If he was not a great preacher he was always good and interesting. His speciality was forlorn causes, places that were low and unable to rise. He both preached and practised Carey’s motto, “Attempt great things for God and expect great things from God.” He closed no chapels. He believed in re-opening services where closing down had prevailed. He tackled difficulties, debts and doubters with zest. He slew lions and found honey. He believed the lowest could be lifted, the farthest gone be recovered, the sinfullest saved, and despaired of no man. Big debts did not appal but inspired James Coad. With ceaseless persistence he collected money, paid interests, reduced liabilities, organised efforts and ensured success.

His singularities caused misunderstandings. His eccentricities concealed his excellencies only from those who had eyes for them alone. He often fluttered official dovecotes. He often said what most lacked courage to utter. Occosionally he missed, put more frequently hit the nail fairly upon the head. Sometimes he received hard knocks, but no one saw him ruffled, violent or angry in return. His good tempered wit often extricated him and left others struggling. He knew the value of “a soft answer.” Blows left no bruises. His sympathy with the poor and unfortunate and the understanding of people who stood with their back to the wall endeared him to multitudes. He loved his Church, and lived tor it, knowing that therein his Master had given him his work. 

Like most great helpers and comforters, he had his own trials and sorrows, and of no ordinary kind. For years he had great affliction in his home, but he did not obtrude it, but rather concealed it. The shadow upon him was not allowed to fall upon others. What a comrade and husband he was! When he bowed at last under his burdens he did it without repining. Raised up he was never quite himself again. Taken seriously ill, he unexpectedly passed away on District Meeting Sunday, April 28th, 1918, aged 70 years. The many friends who came from far and near to his funeral service at Kennington showed how widely and greatly he was beloved. Many followed to Streatham Cemetery and joined in singing “Rock of Ages” by the open grave, The hymn sung at the service in the chapel was well chosen:

“Servant of God, well done;
Rest from thy loved employ;
The battle fought, the victory won,
Enter thy Master’s joy.”


James was born in 1847 at Lanlivery, St Austell, Cornwall, to parents Robert, a rural letter carrier (1861), and Ursula. he was baptised on 19 September 1847 at Lanlivery, Cornwall.

The 1861 census return describes James as an errand boy.

He married Anna Maria Best (1853-1924) in the spring of 1875 in the Chippenham Registration District, Wiltshire.

James died on 28 April 1918 in the Southwark Registration District, London.


  • 1871 Bristol
  • 1872 Pillowell
  • 1875 St Ives
  • 1877 Brynmawr
  • 1880 Cheltenham
  • 1883 Truro & Falmouth
  • 1886 Dartmouth
  • 1887 Walworth
  • 1890 Margate
  • 1893 Dunstable
  • 1895 North Bow
  • 1900 Clapham
  • 1907 Rotherhythe
  • 1916 Kennington (S)


PM Minutes 1918/252

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

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

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