Chapman, William (1869-1947)

Primitive Methodist Magazine 1924
Primitive Methodist Magazine 1924

Early years

William was born in 1869 at Strubby, Lincolnshire, to parents Edward and Hannah. Edward worked the land.

As a child William developed a love of books, reading mainly the biographies of Methodist worthies and eminent missionaries. He became a missionary enthusiast and the approach of manhood found him a dedicated spirit –awaiting the call, eager to enter the open door.

Before entering the ministry, William trained as a joiner and wheelwright.


William’s early ministry took place in central Africa.

William’s success as a translator was amply demonstrated. He edited the first Ila Hymnal containing one hundred hymns, which was adopted by other societies beside the Primitive Methodists. He also rendered valuable assistance in the translation of the New Testament.

On returning to home ministry William served five years as a District Missionary Secretary. In 1921 he was delegated to attend the Ecumenical Conference in London.

In retirement, William settled in Northampton and served the Kettering Road circuit as an active supernumerary.

His obituary records that William was a man of grace, his modest demeanour hid from the casual observer his greatness, for he never sounded a trumpet about his achievements, fine as they were.


William authored the following.

Inyimbo sha bakristi: Ila hymns, 1908

A pathfinder in South Central Africa: a story of pioneer missionary work and adventure, 1910

William regularly contributed articles on missionary subjects, particularly the Missionary Page in the Christian Messenger.


William married Clarissa Amelia Watts (1873-1944) in early 1902 at Kings Lynn whilst on furlough. Census returns identify one child.

  • Elsie M (b1910)

William married Olive May Thompson in 1946 at Birchwood, Derbyshire.

William died on 14 December 1947 at Northampton, Northamptonshire.


  • 1895 Mashakulumb’d
  • 1896 Nazula
  • 1909 on furlough
  • 1910 Rhodesia
  • 1914 Shipley
  • 1917 Oswestry
  • 1920 Shrewsbury
  • 1925 Derby IV
  • 1928 Burton on Trent
  • 1934 Ripley
  • 1937 Northampton (S)


Primitive Methodist Magazine 1924/260

Methodist Minutes 1948/130

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

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers


Transcription of obituary published in the Minutes of Conference

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