Cook, John Joseph (1882-1973)

Transcription of obituary published in the Minutes of Conference

JOHN JOSEPH COOK: born at the colliery village of Easington Lane, County Durham in 1882, his father a checkweighman. He began his working life down the mine at the age of twelve, and was later employed at the local Co-operative store as an assistant. He came under the spell of the virile local Primitive Methodists and soon found his way on to the preachers’ plan. Answering the call to the ministry, he entered Hartley College in 1903. There, his keen appetite for knowledge was stimulated by Dr. Peake, his questing mind reaching out to ever fresh intellectual horizons and discovering new vistas of spiritual experience.

In 1905 he was appointed to Brierley Hill and after short spells at Docking and Hull returned to his native north-east at Seaton Delaval. During his subsequent term at Stanley he was called to chaplaincy duty and entered deeply into the experiences of the forces he served in Mesopotamia. After the war he effectively served Greenock, Burnopfield, Ashington, and Old Hill, bringing him to his retirement to Newcastle in 1943. 

After nine years his wife died and he came  to live with his son at Norton, Teesside. In his eightieth year the death of his elder son John came as a heavy blow. On his eightieth birthday he conducted his last service but was able to continue active in pastoral interests and regular in worship to his nintieth birthday, deafness being his only serious physical defect. 

In his early years he was mainly responsible for starting “The Quest”, an ecumenical study circle meeting in Newcastle. which exerted a tremendous influence on a great many ministers and clergy. In his later years he was called from retirement to the Presidency of the Hartley Victoria Old Students Association. To the end of his life he remained a student, learning German in his retirement, continuing his Hebrew exercises, visiting the library twice a week and making notes on substantial books, with his German Bible always in his pew. He was a challenging and arresting preacher with a gift for conveying the results of his studies to ordinary people in language they could understand. He was also a diligent pastor, believing to the end in the importance of pastoral activity. He died on 26th April, 1973 in the ninety-first year of his life and the sixty-eighth year of his ministry.


John was born on 10 June 1882 at Easington Lane, Co. Durham, to parents John and Dinah.

The 1901 census return describes John as a grocer’s assistant.

He married Annie Pickering (1877-1950) in the summer of 1909 at Newcastle upon Tyne. Census returns and birth records identify two children.

  • John (1910-1963) – a schoolmaster (1939)
  • Ralph Pickering (1912-1981) – a chemist in heavy chemical industry (1939)

John died on 26 April 1973 in the Teesside Registration District,


  • Hartley
  • 1905 Brierley Hill
  • 1908 Docking
  • 1909 Hull VII
  • 1912 Seaton Delaval
  • 1916 Stanley
  • 1920 Greenock
  • 1925 Burnopfield
  • 1930 Ashington
  • 1936 Old Hill
  • 1943 Gateshead (S)


Methodist Minutes 1973/137

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

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

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