Cooke, George Johnstone (1836-1928)

Primitive Methodist Magazine 1898
Primitive Methodist Magazine 1928

Early years

George was born in 1836 at Coaltraim, Co Fermanagh, Ireland. Both his father and grandfather were members and class leaders of the Primitive Wesleyan Connexion (see note below).

George was converted aged 12. He united with his father’s church and became a class leader. Although he felt a call to preach, George initially resisted it. However, when he finally began to preach a revival of religion broke out.

George was proposed for the Primitive Wesleyan ministry but he became acquainted with Bernard Kenney and Isaac Nullis and felt drawn to the Primitive Methodists. In 1861 he worked as a hired local preacher in Glasgow.


George’s chief training was through his first superintendent in London, Rev George Lamb.

For the majority of his ministry George laboured in the old Brinkworth District. His obituary records that he had no ambition for official life.

His aim was not to speak fine things or win admiration, but to utter true, useful, beautiful things to help his hearers in the struggle of daily life.

George was a man of prayer. His piety had freshness and spontaneity. He was full of good cheer and did not allow the trials of the day to obliterate the memory of many days of mercy.


George married Sarah Lydia Hunt (1845-1918) in the spring of 1867 at Blandford, Dorset. Census returns identify seven of nine children.

  • Sarah Annie (1868-1900) – married Ernest William A Durance, a PM Minister
  • Hadassah (1871-1960)
  • Lydia (b1872) – married Edgar Ball, a PM Minister
  • Ada (1879-1921) – a domestic companion (1911)
  • George (b1880) – a shop assistant (1911)
  • Margaret (b1884)
  • Mary Brampton (b1888) – a clerk (1911)

George died on 14 January 1928 at Willesden, Middlesex.


  • 1862 London II
  • 1863 Kelsale
  • 1864 Spilsby
  • 1865 Poole
  • 1867 Motcombe
  • 1870 Banbury
  • 1871 Cranbourne
  • 1873 Faringdon
  • 1875 Southampton
  • 1879 Witney
  • 1881 Malmesbury
  • 1885 Winchester
  • 1888 Romsey
  • 1889 Deal & Dover
  • 1892 Sheerness
  • 1894 Gravesend
  • 1897 Frome
  • 1900 Chichester
  • 1902 Kingston (sup)
  • 1906 Melton Mowbray
  • 1912 Dover


Primitive Methodist Magazine 1898/83; 1928/546

PM Minutes 1928/258

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

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers


Note: The Primitive Wesleyan Methodists in Ireland sought to tread in John Wesley’s footsteps. They did not organise services during church hours and attended the Parish Church for sacrament. The Primitive Wesleyans subsequently united with the Wesleyan Methodists.

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