Dunham, William (1841-1888)

Transcription of obituary published in the Minutes of Conference

WILLIAM DUNHAM was born at Brigg, in Lincolnshire, on Aug. 14th, 1841. His parents were members of the Primitive Methodist Church in the town, and they were careful to take their children to the house of God, to instil into their minds a love for Christ, and to teach them that ‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.’ Their son William was the subject of serious thoughts on salvation. He early felt the need of something which he did not possess. Often when he returned from chapel did he retire to his own room, and there poured out his heart to God in prayer. When he was only ten years and a month old his dear mother sickened, and drooped, and died. Peacefully she passed away from the earth, and triumphantly she entered into the regions above. It was a great sorrow to the tender son to lose so early the guide of his youth. 

In after years William was apprenticed to Mr. William Gibbons, a tradesman near Brigg, and here he remained for eight years. Ere he was fifteen years of age his soul was powerfully awakened, his heart was stirred and troubled; he wept and prayed in disquietude of soul. At length his prayers were heard, his sins were pardoned, and the peace of God suffused his soul. Now he could sweetly sing the words—

‘My God, I am Thine, what a comfort divine,
What a blessing to know that my Jesus is mine.’

Having given himself to God he became attached to the Primitive Methodist Church. Heartily did he enter into the class-meetings and into the prayer-meetings. Eventually his name appeared on the local preachers’ plan, and he laboured successfully as a Jocal preacher for several years. In 1862 he was called into the Home Mission field. Now he had attained his highest wish, viz., to labour as a minister. He laboured on the following stations with a good measure of success: Baldock (twice), Ramsgate, London Second, Chelmsford, Sheerness, Retford, Driffield, Hull Fourth, Winterton, Leighton Buzzard, and Grays. From Grays he travelled to Dartford, in July, 1887. where he laboured until August, 1888, when he departed this life. 

While at Ramsgate he married Miss Newson, and they lived happily together. By this marriage there were four sons and two daughters. At Grays his beloved wife ‘fell on sleep.’ This loss was most keenly felt by our departed brother. In December, 1887, he married Miss Longman. Soon, however, was she left to pursue her earthly pilgrimage alone. 

On his stations he reported the following increases: Retford, 24; Driffield, 32; Hull Fourth, 100; London Second, 100; Winterton, 50; Grays, 40.


William was born on 14 August 1841 at Brigg, Lincolnshire, to parents William Dunham, a coal merchant, and Eliza Jane Morley.

Before entering the ministry, William worked as a shoemaker (1861).

He married Eliza Ann Newsam (abt1840-1887) in early 1868 in West London. Census returns identify five children.

  • William Robert (1869-1939) – a commercial traveller for biscuit manufacturer (1911)
  • Edgar Livingston (1871-1953) – a ship’s steward (1901); emigrated to Australia; died in New South Wales
  • Lily Rosetta (1873-1954) – a mantle maker (1871); married John William Reed, a PM minister, in 1893
  • Lorenzo Stanley (1876-1943) – a printer compositor (1911)
  • Grace Maude (b1879) – a book-keeper for baker & confectioner (1911)

He married Harriett Longman (abt1839-1922) in December 1887 at Dartford, Kent

William died on 30 August 1888 at Dartford, Kent.


  • 1863 Baldock
  • 1865 Ramsgate
  • 1867 London II
  • 1869 Chelmsford
  • 1871 Sheerness
  • 1874 Hull IV
  • 1876 Retford
  • 1878 Winterton
  • 1880 Baldock
  • 1883 Leighton Buzzard
  • 1885 Grays & Romford
  • 1888 Dartford


PM Minutes 1889/29W Leary, Directory of Primitive Methodist Ministers and their Circuits, 1990

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

Note: John William Reed changed his name between 1901 and 1911 to John Gardham Reed.

Comments about this page

  • Paul,
    Thank you for the correction, I was thrown off track as the marriage record for Lily on Findmypast did not include John Reed. On finding the record on Ancestry, Lily’s husband is identified as John William Reed. It is interesting to see that his name changed to John Gardham Reed between 1901 and 1911. Do you have any understanding of why the name changed?

    By Geoff Dickinson (13/12/2019)
  • Interesting piece of work but some details are incorrect
    Lily Rosetta married John Gardham Reed ( another preacher). William committed suicide at the back of the church at Dartford.

    By Paul Dunham (12/12/2019)

Add a comment about this page

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *