Dawson, William (1878-1970)

Christian Messenger 1910
Primitive Methodist Magazine 1928

Early years

William was born in 1878 at Cramlington, Northumberland, to parents William and Jane. William, senior, was an insurance agent (1881) and later, a general dealer (1891).

Before entering the ministry, William worked as a shipwright.


William’s work outside circuit duties had chiefly to do with candidates for the ministry and students. He was a member for some years of the Hartley College Committee, and the Primitive Methodist Students’ Examination Committee, and later of the July Committee. He was Candidates Secretary in the Sunderland and Newcastle upon Tyne and the Liverpool Districts.

He was a gifted man intellectually and profited from the stimulating atmosphere of Hartley College when so many men fell under the spell of Dr A. S. Peake. His greatest interest was philosophy and even as a nonagenarian he was a voracious reader of philosophy and theology. In his lighter moments he enjoyed a game of chess. His contribution to study circles and fraternals was considerable, and his teaching ministry, and his concern for young folk, inspired many young men to become local preachers, and some to enter the ministry.

He was no dry-as-dust scholar in the pulpit, and although never long or discursive, he was forthright and courageous and passionate, ready to accept the challenge of contemporary issues, but always tempering his enthusiasm with his philosophical disciplines, and underlying all was his unwavering devotion and loyalty to his Saviour and Lord. His method of preparing for the pulpit was intriguing. He never wrote a word down on paper, he would sit in his chair in the study, or stretch out on the settee, light his pipe, and like some homiletical Sherlock Holmes think his way through what he wanted to say. The result was not lacking in economy of words, or clarity of thought. Beloved by his colleagues and his people he exercised a long and gracious ministry, and during his many years of retirement he was revered and loved by all in the Leicester (North) Circuit.


William married Mary O’Sullivan (1879-1927) in the summer of 1908 in the Tynemouth Registration District, Northumberland.

William died on 7 August 1970 at Queniborough, Leicestershire.


  • Hartley
  • 1904 Motherwell
  • 1908 Bradley Green
  • 1911 Gateshead I
  • 1919 Leicester IV
  • 1922 Chester I
  • 1929 Old Hill
  • 1932 Leicester IV
  • 1933 Leicester Claremont St
  • 1938 Brownhills
  • 1944 Southwell
  • 1949 Leicester (S)


Primitive Methodist Magazine 1928/120 (Mary)

PM Minutes 1971/161

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

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

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