Elford, Charles (1822-1884)

Transcription of obituary published in the Primitive Methodist Magazine by W.E.C.

CHARLES ELFORD was born at Littledown, near Andover, in Hampshire, August 26th, 1822. At the age of ten he became greatly interested in the evangelistic services of our early missionaries in that county, at that time under the supervision of the Rev. John Ride. It was not till five years later that he fully decided upon a Christian life. He was brought under deep conviction by a sermon preached by the Rev. T. Cummin at a camp meeting. During the following week, while attending a cottage prayer meeting, he made an open avowal of his acceptance of Christ, and straightway he united with our people, and became a most zealous Christian; shortly after this his name appeared on the circuit plan. 

Within two years of his conversion he was ‘called into the regular ministry’ by the Micheldever Station, and subsequently travelled in Wallingford and Oxford Stations. For the space of six years he laboured in our ministry with intense fervour, great acceptance, and signal success. He was one of our missionaries who opened Winchester, and this he did amid much hardship, and some persecution. It was while in the Oxford Station that his health completely broke down, and to the deep regret of many, he resigned the ministry. He greatly loved his work, always labouring with the utmost enthusiasm, and patiently enduring severe privations, but sustained with the joy of seeing ‘great numbers added unto the Lord.’

He remained at Oxford a considerable time, thence he removed to Birmingham, and at both places he laboured hard as a local preacher. His services were in great demand, and so far as strength and circumstances would permit, he cheerfully responded to the call for service, winning many lifelong friends among our own and other churches.

In 1867 he came to reside in Croydon, which was then a mission station, and the friends found in him an able and willing worker, for with an earnest heart he gave himself unstintedly and unweariedly for many years to the service of the circuit. He was pre-eminently a ‘circuit man,’ always taking a deep interest in its welfare, and a leading place in its councils, and labouring incessantly for its progress. He was qualified above many for distinguished service, for he was blest with rare intellectual endowments, popular sympathies, a commanding presence, and a powerful address. As a preacher and public speaker, indoors or out, he was always welcome, and his ministrations were greatly blest to many. As a member and official, he was loyally attached to the polity and literature, and the institutions of our church, and nothing gave him greater pleasure than tidings of its prosperity. He was often delegate to District Meeting, and two or three times sent by his District Meeting to Conference.

After a long and weary illness, borne with true Christian patience and hope, he finished his earthly course at Sutton, in the Croydon circuit, and ‘entered into rest’ in the sixty-second year of his age, after having for forty-seven years been a consistent and honourable member of the Primitive Methodist Connexion.


Petty records how Charles and another preacher, Mr S West, were persecuted whilst visiting Bicester in 1843. A transcription of Petty’s account is attached.


Charles was born on 26 August 1822 at Littledown, nr Andover, Hampshire.

Census returns identify the following occupations for Charles after he left the ministry.

  • 1851 Grocer
  • 1861 boot & shoemaker
  • 1871 cordwainer
  • 1881 cordwainer

He married Priscilla Buckingham (1821-1855) in the summer of 1845 at Oxford, Oxfordshire. Census returns identify five children.

  • Priscilla Buckingham (1846-1902) – a dressmaker (1881); married Thomas Carter, a carpenter, in 1882
  • Mary Ann (b1848)
  • Sarah Ann (1849-1882) – married Thomas Sheppard, a bookmaker, in 1870
  • Charles Edward (1851-1930) – a Congregational minister
  • Lydia Jane (abt1853-1935) – married Frank Fry, a bricklayer, in 1777

He married Rachel Mary Lambert (1818-1907) in the summer of 1855 at Birmingham, Warwickshire. Census returns identify one child.

  • Robert George (1860-1935) – a shoemaker (1901)

Charles died in the summer of 1884 at Sutton, nr Croydon, Surrey.


  • 1840 Mitcheldever
  • 1842 Oxford
  • 1843 Camden
  • 1844 Wallingford
  • 1845 resigned


Primitive Methodist Magazine 1890/626

J Petty, The History of the Primitive Methodist Connexion, 1880, p445 

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

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers


Transcription on an account of persecution at Bicester

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