Emerson, Leonard (1901-1969)

Transcription of obituary published in the Minutes of Conference

LEONARD EMERSON: born in Grimsby in 1901. He began his ministry in the Primitive Methodist Church as a non-collegiate at Kidderminster, where he served for two years before entering Hartley College, whence after three years of training, he was stationed at Redditch for the completion of his probation. After ordination he served in the following Staffordshire circuits; Ramsor, Brierley Hill, Cannock Chase and Old Hill. In 1951 he removed to the Isle of Man, and during this term was Chairman of the District. In 1958 he returned to the mainland to the Quinton Circuit, in Birmingham, and finally to Knighton, in Radnorshire, before he retired in 1966. 

For his retirement he settled at Maltby-le-Marsh, in the Alford Circuit, in his native Lincolnshire. His comparatively brief retirement was increasingly overshadowed by a long illness, which he bore with great courage; yet despite this he preached as he was able, and gathered many young folk into a bible-class in his own house. 

His ministry was marked throughout by a remarkable all-roundness. He was a sound preacher of the Gospel; his preaching not seldom rose to great heights, entirely divested of trivialities and he declared a full Gospel in clear and well-ordered English speech. He was a great example of the diligent pastor; he always worked to a carefully planned scheme of regular and frequent visitation of his folk, and was particularly successful in his work amongst men, both young and older. He was an outstanding administrator, possessing a complete and unrivalled mastery of the legal aspects of Church life and government, which he administered with great judgment and clear presentation. It was this which made him eminently successful as the Secretary of the Wolverhampton and Shrewsbury District, an office which he fulfilled for eleven years; in addition he served as a valuable member of the Connexional Chapel Committee. 

But it was by the quality of his life that he will be most remembered. He possessed great strength of character in a thoroughly disciplined and integrated personality. He had a profound sense of the rightness of things, and upheld his convictions at all costs, and with a winning grace, not seldom characterised by a touch of humour, which quickly disarmed those who ventured to differ from him. The secret of his greatness was in his closeness to things spiritual, though it was seldom that he spoke of this inward source of strength; only in some passing remark did this, for a moment, shine through and become disclosed. He will be remembered as one, ‘Mr Greatheart’, whose task and joy it was to ‘conduct the pilgrims to the House called Beautiful’. He died on 6 June 1969, in the sixty-eighth year of his age and the forty-fifth of his ministry.


Leonard was born on 17 September 1901 at Grimsby, Lincolnshire, to parents George Henry Emerson, a painter and decorator, and Ursula Dorothy Wharton.

He married Mary Ellen White (1899-1995) in the summer of 1927 at Maltby-le-Marsh, Lincolnshire. Birth records identify two children.

  • Leonard Paul Emerson (1929-1983)
  • Dorothy M (b1931)

Leonard died on 6 June 1969 at Malby-le-Marsh, Lincolnshire.


  • 1921 Kidderminster
  • 1923 Hartley
  • 1926 Redditch
  • 1927 Ramsor
  • 1930 Brierley Hill
  • 1937 Cannock Chase
  • 1943 Old Hill
  • 1951 Douglas Bucks Rd
  • 1958 Birmingham Quint
  • 1963 Knighton
  • 1966 Alford (Sup)


Methodist Minutes 1969/208

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

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

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