Crofton, John William (1908-1990)

Transcription of obituary published in the Minutes of Conference

JOHN WILLIAM CROFTON: born at Pelaw, near Gateshead, on 3rd December 1908. Most of his boyhood was spent near Middlesbrough and he trained for the ministry at Hartley Victoria College.  He served at Leith and Tranent and Pateley Bridge before going to the Lydney and Pillowell Circuit, where he met and married Kathleen Knight, who shared fully with him in the work to which he was called. He served with equal effectiveness in circuits as different as Crowle, Patrington, Bradford (Woodhouse Grove), Staines and Feltham, Scunthorpe, Clevedon and Tewkesbury. 

To every situation he brought the basic skills of a preaching and pastoral ministry, seasoned with a down-to-earth common sense. He hated war but at the outbreak of hostilities in 1939, he felt the urge to be alongside the men in the Forces and was released from his circuit to become an Army Chaplain. He was with the Eighth Army in North Africa and on the Normandy beaches following the D-Day invasion. After the war he was a minister at Calverley where he was also Chaplain and teacher at Woodhouse Grove School. 

In 1952 he returned to Army Chaplaincy for eight years, most of which were spent with the British Army of the Rhine. Throughout his forty-three years in the active ministry John Crofton was forceful, direct and positive in his preaching. He had an eagerness and determination to ensure that the Gospel was proclaimed and practised. John was a broad churchman, happily co-operating with clergy and people of different denominations. 

Retirement in 1975 took him to Shrewton, where he lived within sight of the Methodist Church and the Parish Church, in both of which he found colleagueship and spiritual sustenance. Retirement brought John and Kathleen more leisure to enjoy being with their family and grandchildren, and also the opportunity for John to serve a period of fourteen years as officiating chaplain at the Royal Air Force Station, Upavon. In many respects these were the happiest and most fruitful years of his ministry, during which he maintained a high standard of concentrated preaching and pastoral care. The affection in which John and Kathleen were held at Upavon and the help and support of the families there during John’s last illness are in themselves a testimony to the quality of his ministry. It was most fitting that his funeral service should have been held in St Peter’s, the Station church at Upavon, where a plaque commemorates his ministry among men and women on the Station. John died on 3rd July 1990 in the eighty-second year of his age and the fifty-eighth year of his ministry.


John was born on 3 December 1908 at Pelaw, nr Gateshead, Co. Durham, to parents Peter Smith Crofton, a caulker in shipyard (1911), and Annabell Weatherson.

He married Kathleen Florence G Knight (1914-1992) in the summer of 1937 in the Forest of Dean Registration District, Gloucestershire.

John died on 2 July 1990 at Shrewton, Wiltshire.


  • Hartley
  • 1932 Leigh & Tranent
  • 1933 Pateley Bridge
  • 1936 Sydney &c
  • 1937 Crowle
  • 1940 Patrington
  • 1941 Chaplain H.M. Forces
  • 1946 Bradford Woodhouse Grove
  • 1950 Staines &c
  • 1952 Chaplain H.M. Forces
  • 1960 Scunthorpe
  • 1965 Clevedon
  • 1970 Tewkesbury
  • 1975 Salisbury (S)


Methodist Minutes 1991/32

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

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

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