Franks, William (1854-1932)

Primitive Methodist Magazine 1913
Primitive Methodist Magazine 1913

Early years

William was born in 1854 at Sutton-on-the-Forest, near Easingwold, Yorkshire to parents Thomas and Harriet. Thomas was a shoemaker.

William surrendered himself to Jesus Christ when 13 years old, and joined the church. At 15, he was placed on the plan as a local preacher. Five years later, William was engaged by the Hoyland circuit as an honorary lay preacher.


William was described as sanguine in temperament, genial in disposition, wiry in constitution and knowing nothing of defeat. He lived on the sunny side of the street, and inspired others by the warmth of his enthusiasm.

William was a born evangelist. He had that strange mystic or ‘mesmeric’ power that helps men to decision or compels them to surrender. In the early days of his ministry scores of persons were swept into the kingdom by his passionate appeals.

As well as being an evangelist, William was also a vigorous chapel builder. At Cambridge new schools were built. At Fakenham the site for the Memorial Chapel was secured in the face of great difficulties. On the Diss circuit, Burston chapel was built and at Soham new school and vestries. Perhaps his greatest achievement in chapel building was at Hoyland where three new chapels costing £12,000 were erected and some £10,000 raised for extension purposes.

William served as Secretary of the Equalisation Fund in the Lynn and Cambridsge District, Sunday School Secretary in the Sheffield District and as Missionary Secretary in the York and Scarborough District.

In retirement at Easingwold, Frank served as a member of the District Council.

William became a Deed Poll member of Conference at the 1931 PM Conference.


William married Elizabeth Ingram (b1855) in the summer of 1881 at Colchester. Census returns identify six children.

  • Arthur Ingram (1882-1974) – an electrical engineer (1911)
  • Rosalind Maud (1885-1968) – married Joseph Farnsworth, an architect and surveyor and public house manager (1911)
  • Eva Mildred (1888-1967)
  • Daisy Blanche (b1889) – mother’s help (1911)
  • Dorothy Hilda (b1897)
  • Ethel Powell Mary (b1900)

William died on 26 Feb 1932 at Easingwold, Yorkshire.


  • Sunderland
  • 1877 Colchester
  • 1878 Briston
  • 1881 Cambridge I
  • 1884 Fakenham
  • 1886 Diss
  • 1889 Soham
  • 1895 Fakenham
  • 1898 Hoyland
  • 1905 Clay Cross
  • 1907 Rotherham
  • 1910 York
  • 1914 Doncaster
  • 1917 Wakefield
  • 1918 Pontefract
  • 1921 Leeds X
  • 1922 Easingwold
  • 1927 Easingwold (S)


Primitive Methodist Magazine 1913/170

PM Minutes 1932/309

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

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers



An article by Norma Virgoe, published in the East Anglia Wesley Historical Society journal, 2015, which describes a 'difficult' chapter in the life of William Franks.

Comments about this page

  • Thank you for reproducing the very interesting article by Norma Virgoe about Annie Seaman, her father Enoch Seaman and the Rev. Franks. My partner is the 3x great nephew of Annie Seaman, and a direct decendent of her Grandfather Elisha Seaman who was a local preacher in Gislingham, Suffolk in the late 1880’s. We are currently researching the Seaman family history and have found this article – and the website as a whole – a very useful resource.

    By Chrissy Hamlin (19/08/2017)

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