Clements, Edward (1864-1946)

Primitive Methodist Magazine 1918
Primitive Methodist Magazine 1912

Early years

Edward was born in 1864 at Barnsbury, Middlesex. He lost both his parents when quite young. He associated with the PM Sunday School at Durham Road in the Holloway circuit. He was converted there at the age of sixteen and immediately became a Sunday School teacher and joined the Mission Band. At seventeen, Edward was given his Note for the plan and at eighteen became a Society Class Leader.

Before entering the ministry, Edward went as a hired local preacher to Kentish Town.


Edward was a conscientious and steady worker. He had more than usual success in reducing debts and built several chapels, most notably at West Ealing where he had ‘inherited’ a dilapidated iron building.

As a preacher he gave unmistakable evidence of wide reading and careful thinking, especially in the realms of theology and philosophy. His well considered, practical and evangelical message, given with such transparent truthfulness, and pleasant and easy fluency of speech, never failed to both build up believers and win men from darkness to light.

In retirement Edward served as Religious Instructor to the Public Assistance Institution.


Edward married Elizabeth Lydia Atkins (1868-1911) in the spring of 1892 at Islington, London. Census returns identify five children.

  • George Edwin Atkin (b1893)
  • Helen Doreen (1895-1981) – married George T Hodgson, a PM Minister, in 1925 at Swindon
  • Sarah Kathleen (b1896)
  • Elizabeth Eileen (b1904)
  • William Kenneth Watson (b1909)

Edward married Mary Elizabeth Hyde in the summer of 1930 at Swindon, Wiltshire.

Edward died on 12 December 1946 at Wednesfield, Staffordshire.


  • 1889 Braintree
  • 1892 Belfast
  • 1894 Gloucester
  • 1897 Ealing
  • 1901 Portsmouth I
  • 1903 Huddersfield
  • 1906 Southend
  • 1910 Ebbw Vale
  • 1914 Castleford
  • 1920 Swindon
  • 1926 Wolverhampton
  • 1928 Supernumerary


Primitive Methodist Magazine 1912/241 (wife); 1918/412

Methodist Minutes 1947/136

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

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers


Note: In the 1911 census return Edward recorded all the children using their second or third Christian names; Atkin, Doreen, Kathleen, Eileen and Watson.


Comments about this page

  • Edward Clements’ hand written memoir has been donated to Englesea Brook Museum. It offers a remarkable insight into the worldview of a Primitive Methodist minister in the late 19th and early 20th century. Edward Clements’ account of his early days read rather like a Victorian melodrama with the fear of poverty and destitution sometimes far too close to comfort.

    As a young man Edward felt called to become a Primitive Methodist local preacher despite being confronted with an examiner who was ‘a terror to the poor candidates.’ From these fearful beginnings sprang a long and colourful ministry, the recollection of which reveals a great deal not only about issues within Primitive Methodism but in the swiftly changing world of the time. As a minister working in Belfast Edward was shocked by the intolerance he saw around him and the violent relationship between Protestants and Catholics. In Gloucester he witnessed a terrible smallpox epidemic that persuaded him of the value of vaccination. In Huddersfield he struggled to maintain order in a church where radical ideas about class were in danger of splintering a congregation. He lived through and commented upon two world wars and this remarkable memoir covers the whole period.

    The last few pages read more like a diary than a memoir. In 1946, after more than 60 years of preaching, Edward Clements was no longer included among the list of active preachers. This was clearly a great blow but he accepted it with good grace noting that ‘I expect the Super thought at the age of 82 I deserved relief.’ A few months later he died but he left behind a memoir of a remarkable life that is well worth remembering. We are grateful to Edward’s grand-daughter, Janet Field, for donating the book. Janet has also typed up the memoir and it is available to read at the museum.

    By Jill Barber (16/11/2016)

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