Garratt, James (1851-1887)

Transcription of obituary published in the Primitive Methodist Magazine by Joshua Biggs

REV. JAMES GARRATT was born at Hayfield, Derbyshire, June 11th, 1851. When about eight years of age, the family removed to Bollington, in Cheshire. The parents being thorough Primitive Methodists, James was at once sent to the Sunday-school, and eventually became a teacher. When about the age of fourteen, at a prayer-meeting after the Sabbath evening service, he gave himself fully to the Lord, and could at once rejoice in the blessing of sins forgiven. Two years after his conversion, the officials of the then Macclesfield circuit, seeing in him qualifications for usefulness, placed his name upon the preachers’ plan, and for four years he laboured in this capacity. During the superintendency of the Rev. John Tristram he was called into the regular ministry. With much acceptance and considerable success, he travelled in the following stations — Brighton, Tunbridge Wells, Gravesend, Dover, Grassington, Ripon, Skipton, and was in his second year in the Castleford circuit. His ministry in this station, though only of short duration, had gained the respect and esteem, not only of our own people, but of others outside the pale of our church.

Up to July last, our brother was fairly well, and full of work and zeal, but just then the Allwise Father thought fit to lay him aside. During tho early part of his affliction he was extremely anxious to get better. He loved his work, and his family—these were ties he did not wish severed, But when he found that the Master had designed him for higher service, he freely gave up his work, his wife, children, and relations. He would frequently mention them each one by name, and often told those about him that he would gladly die. He had a desire to depart to be with Christ. When asked if Christ was still precious his reply was, ‘I have preached Christ, and I love Christ.’ A few hours before he passed away, he tried to sing a few strains of the ‘Hallelujah Chorus,’ in a voice scarcely audible.

As the chilling influences of death stole over his enfeebled frame, he asked those around, if he was dying, and being told he was, his joy seemed great, and he said, ‘Bless the Lord, I shall soon be in heaven.’

He had often expressed a desire that he might die when all was quiet, and at half-past three on Christmas morn, while the carol singers were celebrating the advent of the Prince of Peace, he passed triumphantly home.

The Rev. D. McCormack, Congregational minister, of Castleford, who had frequently visited him in his affliction, writes as follows:— ‘The late Mr. Garratt seemed to have clung to life till a week or so before his death. He talked more about living than dying, but always said his will was the will of his God. When told he was within a week of his end, he took it in the most matter of fact manner. He began to set his house in order as regards this world, and said he was already ready for the next. Then his desire to depart and be with Christ was so ardent as to be almost painful. He was afraid to be impatient lest he should sin. He found much comfort in thinking and talking about the “fourth watch,” and about Mary and Martha waiting for their Lord in their trouble. He only had one prayer and that was not to be impatient. On the Saturday, I asked him if he thought he should spend Christmas day with us. He asked when it was. I said, “To-morrow,” and he said was not that Sunday, and  I answered, “Yes.” He said, “No, I’ll never spend another Sunday here, no never.” We parted as if we should meet again some day, in a cool, calm, Christian way, and I saw his face no more. His children he parted with in the same calm assurance of faith. He had a childlike faith in God, and left Him to order all his affairs, satisfied that what He did would be well and wisely done. His life, more than his death, declared the man. His works, more than his words, reveal his character. In life and in death he had that faith in God that left no room for doubt, and that perfect love for Christ that casteth out fear. He walked with God and is not,—“not lost but gone before.” ‘

Among a number of letters received by Mrs. Garratt, was one from the Castleford Gospel Temperance Association, appreciating his earnest labours in connection with the temperance works of the town. The Rev. J. Redhead, an old colleague, speaks of him in the highest terms, and so does the Rev. J.P. Osborne, who writes in behalf of the Skipton circuit, where Brother Garratt had formerly travelled.

The following letter, received by Mr. G. Holland, circuit secretary, from Rev. W.R. Bird, will show that he was beloved by his ministerial brethren:—‘I have known the Rev. J. Garratt, your late minister, for about fourteen years. My opinion of him all along has been that he was a thoughtful, earnest, plodding young man. He was warmly appreciated in his circuits. In the places where his lot was cast, there remain very pleasing and immortal evidences of success. He was not obtrusive and sensational, but by sanctified geniality and steady loyalty to his exalted calling, won the sympathy of many. He seems to have been removed from us too soon,—as the unfriendly frosts wither the fragile flowers—but God orders all aright. We must pray God to grant that our dear brother, though dead—through his life and influence may still be speaking, and others may arise to catch the falling banner and bear it bravely on till at last the universal victory of our Christ shall be won.’

Deceased leaves a wife and three children, for whom much sympathy is felt. Previous to his remains being removed to Bollington, a most impressive service was held in the Bradley Street Chapel, where he had so often preached. The funeral took place at Bollington, Cheshire, on December 29th, amid many expressions of sorrow that one so young and promising should be taken away at the age of thirty-six years, and in the sixteenth of his ministry. Five of the officials came from Castleford to the funeral, and thus showed how much they respected their departed minister. His death was improved to large congregations in the chapel at Bollington by the writer, and at Castleford by the Rev. S.B. Reynolds. May his sorrowing widow and loved ones meet him in heaven.


James was born on 11 June 1851 at Hayfield, Derbyshire, to parents James, a cotton carder (1861), and Mary Ann.

James was working as a cotton piecer before entering the ministry.

He married Mary Bradbury (1853-1936) in the spring of 1876 at Bollington, Cheshire. Census returns identify three children.

  • Annie Elizabeth (1877-1961) – married Isaac Bamford, a stone merchant (1911), on 1905
  • Maud Lilian (1879-1977) – married John Oldham Warburton, an auctioneer (1911), in 1907
  • Clara Hilda (1885-1964) – an assistant teacher (1911); married Charles Bamford, a textile printing mechanic (1939), in 1913

James died on 25 December 1887 at Castleford, Yorkshire.


  • 1872 Brighton
  • 1873 Tunbridge Wells
  • 1875 Gravesend
  • 1876 Dover
  • 1878 Grassington
  • 1881 Ripon
  • 1884 Skipton
  • 1886 Castleford


Primitive Methodist Magazine 1889/564

PM Minutes 1888/12

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

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

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