Dryden, William (abt1785-1865)

Transcription of obituary published in the Primitive Methodist Magazine by R Clapham

Upwards of forty-four years ago the late Mr. W. Dryden, of Stockton circuit, was deeply convinced of sin under the ministry of Mr. Jonathan Clewer. For several months he sought rest by self mortification and fasting, frequently wandering for days together in the fields in deep anguish of soul. At times, so great was his trouble that he concluded himself despised of man and abandoned by God. Often have I heard him say that he longed for the earth to open and close upon him, so that he might be out of his unbearable distress; that to grace he was an immense debtor; that of the vilest whom God ever saved he was the chief. Hundreds in love-feasts have heard him declare, with uplifted hands and streaming eyes, that he was the greatest sinner, but God freely forgave him all the moment he believed in Jesus. He said that naturally he was very ignorant, self-willed, and repulsive, and everything that was in him of a better kind God had put within him for Christ’s sake, and consequently he gloried in the cross of Christ alone.

He felt the greatest repugnance to any sermon that did not distinctly teach salvation by faith in the Son of Ged.

Upwards of forty years ago he went out as a travelling preacher; many souls were converted under his ministry; but considering himself without the requisite training and other qualifications for the itinerancy, he returned to his home, which was comfortable and respectable.

He settled down as a local preacher at Long Newton, in the Stockton circuit. Cheerfully he entertained the ministers of Jesus Christ, willingly and arduously he laboured in his Master’s vineyard. No journey was too long for him. 

Once, when planned, he had a fine and valuable cow excessively ill; most agriculturists would have considered the case sufficient to detain them at home, but at the appointed time Mr. Dryden said, “She is in God’s hands, and I must do God’s work.” ,

Fully he devoted himself to God’s work, and he was severe with any whom he regarded as triflers. “Christ and souls,” he said, “were not things to trifle with.” “A man ought to be at it, and always at it.”

His love to the denomination of his choice was equal to his love to souls. Often have we heard him say “Christ first, and the Primitive Methodists next.” To the connexion he stood in all weathers, storm or calm, friends or foes never shook him. He had to suffer loss, but he endured as seeing him who is invisible. He rented one of the best farms in the county of Durham. One rent day his aristocratic landlord said, “Dryden, give up this people,” meaning the Primitive Methodists, “or give up my farm.” Like the ancient and immortalized men “who took joyfully the spoiling of their goods,” Dryden replied, “Sir, the land is yours, but this people shall be my people, and their God shall be my God.” So he went out, quitting his dearest earthly residence, the place where his father had lived, the house of his own birth, the abode of his matured manhood; losses and sorrows followed him; but he rejoiced that he had to endure hardness and loss for Christ’s sake; and he laid up for himself treasures in heaven.

When reviewing the past he frequently said, “Yea, doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus, my Lord.”

During the last five years, age and infirmities prevented him from actively engaging in propagating the gospel, but in the midst of his afflictions, to hear of the prosperity of Zion was his chief joy.

As his days decreased, he lamented his imperfections, and expressed increasing desires for that holiness without which “no man shall see the Lord.”

A short time before his death he told me that “Christ and the Primitives had done well for him, and he wished he had done better for them.”

During the last twenty years he resided in Yarm, where, on May 6th, 1865, he fell asleep in Jesus, in assured hope of that inheritance which is incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away, out of which there will be no ejection,


William was baptised on 26 January 1785 at Bishopton, Co. Durham. His parents were William and Ann.

When he settled at Yarm, William worked as a butcher.

He married Ann Garrey (abt1797-1870) on 29 November 1836 at Yarm, Yorkshire. Census returns identify two children.

  • William (1839-1846)
  • Robert (1840-1849)

William died on 6 May 1865 at Yarm, Yorkshire.


  • 1826 N Shields
  • 1827 ceased


Primitive Methodist Magazine 1865/746

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

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

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