Freear, William (1824-1904)

Primitive Methodist Magazine 1877
Primitive Methodist Magazine 1905

Early years

William was born at Brandesburton, nr Beverley, Yorkshire on 3 August 1824 to parents Thomas and Mary. He was baptised on 7 August 1824 at Brandesburton. As a boy, he was taken to the established church and was confirmed by the Archbishop of York. Soon afterwards, William was brought under the influence of the Wesleyans but it was through the Primitive Methodists that William was changed by the Spirit of God at the age of 14. Aged 17, the Hornsea station put him on the plan as an exhorter. He was a local preacher until 1847.


Prior to becoming itinerant, William spent 7 months in the Driffield circuit as a hired local preacher in place of Rev Atkinson who was ill. William preferred to see himself as a home missionary rather than work as a circuit minister.

Kendall records that the Peterborough mission which had declined in the early 1850’s underwent a steady revival under the superintendency of William for three years from 1855.

William missioned Hastings holding his first service on the beach. Here he met with much opposition. He and his wife were subject to great abuse, such as stone throwing, horn blowing and jeering.

The PM magazine of 1877 records; ‘His preaching is uniformly characterised by pathos, perspicuity and earnestness; the glorious doctrine of the free, full and present salvation ever being kept prominent.


William married Mary Ann Hobbs (1830-1891) in the summer of 1859 at Maidstone, Kent. Census returns identify four children.

  • Louisa Jane (1860-1945) – married William Clark Lade and moved to Tasmania
  • William (1864-1938) – a schoolmaster
  • Alexander (1869-1945) – a physician and surgeon
  • Arthur (1872-1936) – a schoolmaster

William died on 15 September 1904 at Herne Bay, Kent and was buried at Maidstone Cemetery near his wife.


  • 1850 Buckden
  • 1851 Hammersmith
  • 1853 Brighton
  • 1855 Peterborough and Ramsey
  • 1858 Goudhurst & Tunbridge Wells
  • 1859 Hastings
  • 1860 Isle of Wight
  • 1862 Hastings
  • 1864 Tunbridge Wells
  • 1867 Croydon
  • 1869 Exeter and Exmouth
  • 1871 Falmouth
  • 1872 Deal
  • 1873 Ramsgate
  • 1874 Chatham
  • 1877 Watford
  • 1879 Chelmsford
  • 1880 Peterborough
  • 1881 Hornsea
  • 1884 Maidstone
  • 1886 Silchester
  • 1889 Chalfont St Giles
  • 1890 Woolwich (Sup)
  • 1891 Maidstone


Primitive Methodist Magazine 1877/321 (portrait); 1905/990

PM Minutes 1905/18

H B Kendall, Origin and History of the PM Church, vol 2, 423

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

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers



Comments about this page

  • This page was modified on 24 February 2018 to add a transcription of the obituary published in the Primitive Methodist Magazine 1905.

    By Geoff Dickinson (24/02/2018)
  • William was my great great uncle, fantastic reading about his life.

    By Brian Freear (02/03/2016)

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