Cooper, Percival Edward (1902-2002)

Transcription of obituary published in the Minutes of Conference

PERCIVAL EDWARD COOPER: born in Aldershot on 18″ August 1902, Percy was the third of four children. He was educated locally in Aldershot but did not enjoy school and always said that he did not learn much at school. He much preferred to study on his own initiative and started to study the violin when he was twelve. He worked first as an apprentice to a men’s outfitters and then in a depository warehouse. The family moved to Folkestone where he continued to develop his violin skills and acquired an instrument of his own. It was in Folkestone, while he was only sixteen, that he started to train as a Local Preacher, his family being staunch Primitive Methodists. Later he became conscious of a call to the ministry and studied at Hartley Victoria College, Manchester. In 1931 he was ordained as a minister in the Primitive Methodist Church.

During this period he met his wife, Hilda Broughton, and they married shortly after his ordination. They both enjoyed music, Hilda became a piano teacher, and both acquired a reputation as amateur painters, Percy in watercolours and gouache, and Hilda in oils. They adopted two children, Mary and David, and there are two granddaughters, Karen and Nicola. 

During the war Percy was a chaplain at R.A.F. Leeming in Yorkshire. He served in the following circuits: Caerphilly, Weobley, Meltham, Tebay, Bedale, Cockfield, Aspatria, Market Weighton, Sheffield Intake, Acle, and finally Lowestoft and East Suffolk. On his retirement in 1967 Percy stayed in the Acle Circuit as an Active Supernumerary; indeed, one of the circuit stewards built a house for Percy and Hilda’s use. Hilda suffered badly from rheumatoid arthritis and needed all Percy’s attention. When she died in 1985, he moved to Lowestoft to share a house with Mary and her husband. While there he began to study with the Open University, embarking on a Bachelor of Arts degree which he completed in his ninetieth year. The graduation ceremony was at Ely Cathedral. Three years later he was awarded a Diploma in Christian Studies by Westminster College. He also began to travel, never having been abroad until he was eighty-four, but now exploring the Alps and the Holy Land as well as many parts of the United Kingdom. 

Percy was a great friend, encourager and always had a broad-ranging and open mind. While in his nineties he was a great support to a minister in training and it was a rich joy for him to assist at this minister’s Ordination Service at the Leeds Conference. He also led a weekly Bible Study group, and continued to be part of the group after suffering a mild stroke. Percy moved into full-time residential care eighteen months before he died, but continued to meet with the group. In the last few months Percy found it more difficult to attend these meetings so the group met at the residential home. He was an active member of the group right up until the last week of his life and, indeed, the home has asked for the group to continue meeting there in his memory. Percy told his granddaughter, Karen, that the last thirty years of his life were the best. He died on 23″ June 2002 in the hundredth year of his age and the seventy-fifth year of his ministry.


Percival was born on 18 August 1902 at Aldershot, Hampshire, to parents James, a carpenter & joiner, and Emily.

He married Hilda Broughton (1904-1985) in the summer of 1931 at Letchworth, Herts.

Percival died on 23 June 2002 at Lowestoft, Suffolk.


  • Hartley
  • 1927 Marple
  • 1928 Dover & Folkstone
  • 1931 Weobly
  • 1932 Scholes
  • 1936 Kirkby Stephen
  • 1939 Bedale
  • 1942 W Auckland
  • 1946 Wigton
  • 1951 Market Weighton
  • 1957 Sheffield, Surrey St
  • 1959 Sheffield South
  • 1962 Acle
  • 1967 Acle (Sup)


Methodist Minutes 2003/28

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

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

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