France, Francis Coates (1852-1919)

Primitive Methodist Magazine 1919

Early years

Francis was born in 1852 at Easington Lane, Co Durham, to parents John and Hannah. John was a miner.

Born of poor parents, Francis had few educational opportunities. At the age of ten he was sent to work in a coal mine for ten hours a day.

Francis was converted at the age of sixteen. He joined the Church and became a Sunday School teacher. Later he became the school superintendent. Francis became a local preacher at the age of twenty-one. When the second minister in the circuit was taken ill, Francis was engaged to ‘supply’ for three months. Francis was recommended for the ministry by the March Quarterly Meeting in 1876. His examination results were so good, he was immediately sent into circuit work.


All his ministry was carried out in the area of the old Norwich District. In his first circuit, Francis soon had to face a difficult situation. His superintendent went over to the Anglicans. Another young man was called out to assist, and the position was successfully faced.

Francis served as Sunday School Secretary for five years and as Building Committee Secretary for a record twenty-one years.

His obituary records that in politics and questions of social welfare, Francis made a reputation. Village societies secured his sympathy and enjoyed his ministrations. His knowledge of the district was intimate and peculiar. He was the means of piloting many building schemes towards success. He was thoroughly at home in evangelism; his presentation of the truth was always fervid, sometimes passionate.


Francis married Jane Spooner (1854-1943) in the summer of 1882 at Mitford, Norfolk. Census returns identify five of nine children.

  • Mary Hannah (1884-1931) – a music teacher (1911)
  • Ernest Spooner (1885-1968) – a PM Minister
  • Margaret Louise (b1887) – a schoolmistress (1911)
  • Percy Frank (1889-1893)
  • Augusta Eveline (1892-1977) – a pupil teacher (1911); married Sidney Lister Dunt, a groom (1911), in 1916

Francis died on 1 June 1919 at Ipswich, Suffolk.


  • 1876 Wymondham
  • 1878 Cambridge
  • 1880 Ipswich
  • 1881 Colchester
  • 1883 Lynn
  • 1886 Wisbech
  • 1889 Ipswich
  • 1894 Norwich I
  • 1897 Lowestoft
  • 1902 Martham
  • 1912 Ipswich


Primitive Methodist Magazine 1912/210; 1919/728

PM Minutes 1919/258

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

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

Comments about this page

  • This was really interesting.  I am a great grand-daughter of Francis Coates France and wondered where you got the lovely photographs of him and his wife.

    By Diana Turpin (06/10/2015)
  • Diana,

    The photographs were in the sketch in the 1912 Primitive Methodist Magazine (Aldersgate Magazine)

    By Geoff Dickinson (06/10/2015)

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