Elves, William Foster (1909-1983)

Transcription of obituary published in the Minutes of Conference

WILLIAM FOSTER ELVES: born in Tudhoe, Co. Durham on 31st March 1909. He was educated at the Alderman Wraithe Grammar School, Spennymoor and was accepted for the ministry in 1930. After training at Hartley Victoria College, Manchester, he served in the Bournemouth (Curzon Road) Circuit as Chairman’s assistant and then in the Colwyn Bay and Llandudno Circuit where he et Elizabeth (Beth) whom he married in 1937 and who was to prove such a source of help and encouragement through the years. He continued to exercise a highly valued ministry in the following circuits: Hurstbourne Tarrant, Andover and Hurstbourne, Sunderland (West), Bradford (Great Horton), Eccles (Wesley), Salford (Swinton and Pendlebury), Manchester (Gravel Lane), Manchester (Cheetham Hill and Prestwich), Liverpool (South East), and Great Harwood. 

Bill Elves cared deeply about people. Every one of them was important to him. He gave a pledge that he would know the names of all the members of a congregation within three months of his arrival in a new circuit, and he invariably kept his word. Visitation was high on his list of priorities and provided helpful themes for his effective pulpit ministry. He paid great attention to detail and firmly believed in careful preparation for everything he undertook. In the early years of his ministry much of his time was spent among the young, including a period as University Chaplain in Liverpool. It is a fine tribute to his faithfulness that several former students kept in touch with him to the end of his life. The effectiveness of his work was greatly enhanced by the caring support of his family and the colleagueship of fellow ministers always held a special place in his affections. 

In a full and satisfying life his varied interests included gardening, walking, sport, especially cricket, and an insatiable love of books. He died peacefully on 23rd March 1983 in the seventy-fourth year of his age and the fiftieth year of his ministry.


William was born on 31 March 1909 at Tudhoe, Co. Durham, to parents Samuel, an engine fitter, and Margaret.

He married Elizabeth Gledhill (1908-2003) on 4 August 1937 at the English methodist Church, Old Colwyn, Dendighshire. Birth records identify one child.

  • Elizabeth (b1938)

William died on 23 March 1983 at Morecambe, Lancashire.


  • Hartley
  • 1933 Bournemouth Curz
  • 1934 Colwyn Bay &c
  • 1935 President’s List
  • 1936 Hurstbourne Tarrant
  • 1937 Andover &c
  • 1939 Sunderland W
  • 1944 Bradford Gt Horton
  • 1949 Eccles Wesley
  • 1954 Salford Swinton
  • 1957 Manchester Gravel Lane
  • 1961 Manchester Cheet Hill
  • 1964 Liverpool SE
  • 1970 Gt Harwood
  • 1974 Morcambe (S)


Methodist Minutes 1983/62

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

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

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