Grey, George (1831- 1902)

Primitive Methodist Magazine 1888
George Grey's family Memorial
Andrew Hunter

Obituary from PM Minutes – 1903

“George Grey – Our Church in Victoria lost a most loyal and devoted minister when on Saturday, February 1st, 1902 during the sessions of our Annual Assembly at South Yarra, the Rev. G Grey passed quietly home to ‘the Father’s house’ Waverly,’ Malvern Grove, Caulfield, Victoria. The Church at home never sent out a more earnest, consistent Primitive Methodist minister to this colony than our departed friend, as more than 40 years’ service in Victoria will testify.  George Grey was the eldest son of George and Ann Grey, and was born at Winterton, Lincolnshire, England on March 10th 1831.  His parents were members of our Church, so that in his early boyhood he came into contact with the ministers of earlier days, and this, doubtless, had much to do with his spiritual and church life in this formative period of his history.  He was converted at the age of sixteen, and sustained an unbroken connection with our Church for more than fifty-four years.  After a while he was put on the Plan, and worthily sustained the office of Local Preacher till called into the ministry in the latter part of 1853.  He was pledged by the Howden Branch of the Swinefleet Circuit in March 1854, and after one year’s service removed to Scotter, and spent two happy years under the superintendency of the late Revs C. Kendall and A Worsnop.  Thence he went to Market Rasen, where he finished his probation, and at the latter end of 1858 was accepted by the General Missionary Committee as a missionary for Australia.  In company with the late Rev. J. Langham and family he embarked in the sailing vessel ‘George Marshall’ and after nearly sixteen weeks’ voyage, he was warmly welcomed in Melbourne by the later Rev. L Dobinson.  After staying a few days in the city, he was appointed to the Kilmon Station, where he remained three years.  The remainder of his active ministry was spent in the following stations:- Melbourne First (three times) 10 years, Melbourne Second (three times) six years, Talbot five years, Geelong three years, Campellfield two years, Castlemaine and Williamstown on year each, Book Steward five years – thirty six years of whole-hearted and successful service, in which he was well supported by his now bereaved widow, who quietly waits a re-union in the skies.  This added to the five years in home Stations, makes a ministry of forty-one years, during which he was able to report a net aggregate increase of over 600 members.  In 1895 he was compelled by weakness to request superannuation, but retained a lively interest  in all the activities of our Church till about two years since, when only at the Assembly were we favoured with his presence and counsel.  In his active ministerial life his hands were very full of church building enterprises, etc. besides which his presence and wise counsel were invaluable in the executive work of the District.  He was appointed the first Editor of ‘The Victorian Primitive Methodist,’ and subsequently held the office for five years.  He was corresponding head of the Church with the Victorian Government for several years, for 20years treasurer to many of the funds, five times G.C.D. to District Meeting, and President at least three times, and for about 40 years never missed being present at the Annual Assembly.  In all these positions he was a recognised leader, and one to whom we could look for help in difficult questions.  His fine, genial, brotherly spirit gave him a large place in the affections of old and young.  The senior ministers found in him a faithful brother, whilst the younger ministers hailed him as a beloved father, to whom they could come in their perplexities and difficulties and find a friend to sympathise and a wise adviser in the hour of need.  Being endowed with quick mental perceptions, he could the more easily see the trend and probable issue of proposals submitted, and greatly assisted in arriving at correct conclusions.  He was a tower of strength in the Church Council.  Fair, honourable, and generous, he would see and note favourable points, and whilst hating meanness and wrong, he had very much of that charity which thinketh no evil.  AS a preacher there was a mingled pathos and power in his ministrations.  Some of his sermons at the Assembly will live not only as a happy memory, but as a spiritual force in many a life.  Who will forget his sermon in  Ballarat some 21 years since, near the fountain , on ‘He served others, himself he cannot save;’  and the following year at Geelong in the Church on the words arise, therefore, and the Lord be with thee’?  He was a good circuit minister, as well as leader at the Annual Assembly; quiet, but earnest, persistent, devoted to all the interests of Christ’s Church and work;  the trusted friend of the social circle.  Many a home made him a welcome guest, and was the better for his kindly words and prayers. Our Brother Grey was not an ardent Unionist.  Whilst he believed in and manifested the spirit of unity with all Christians, he failed to see that the different sections of Methodism had fully accomplished their mission as separate branches and should therefore be merged into one larger Church.  He consistently pleaded all through for Primitive Methodism to retain her separate identity, and if, by his loyalty to our Church, anyone pronounced him a secretarian, it did not move him from his position, which he regarded as strong and sound.  ‘We were raised up by God for a specific purpose .  We must still maintain our independency;’ and for this he was willing to write, speak, live, and if needs be, suffer.  We honoured his unswerving loyalty, and were prepared to endorse nearly all his positions; but the Church had said Union must come.  He therefore stepped aside and left the maturing of plans and adjustments to younger hands.  We were sorry to lose his presence and help, and are still more grieved if it cast any shadow on his later days.  Only occasionally the last two years had he been able to take any preaching services.  He read, prayed, and communed with his God, and ripened for the higher life of heaven in that quiet, pleasant home at ‘Waverley.’  His last public address among us was at the Assembly of 1901 at Ballarat.  It was a finely conceived and spoken deliverance on the old Church he loved so well.  For some time he had complained of his head, but we all hoped he would be spared to us for years.  But after the new year it took an acute form, and in spite of the best medical skill and kind, tender nursing he gradually grew weaker, till Saturday morning, February 1st,he passed home to God in peace.  He died as he lived a devout, humble saint.  His life and his work are his testimony.  ‘He being dead yet speaketh.’ May his two daughters and two sons follow their dear father’s steps to the Throne.  A short service was held in South Yarra Church.  Rev W.H Walton gave an appropriate address on ’The Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away,’etc.  He was buried in Melbourne General Cemetery,.  The Revs.T Copeland, C. Anthony, J.H. Cain, Messrs. Charles and Kidd represented the Assembly at the grave.  The Rev. S. Bracewell concluded the memorial service the following Sunday.  We miss him, but he is in the larger Church, where’ the former things are passed away.’ – C Anthony. “


George was born at Winterton on Mar 10 1831

George  married Elizabeth Jane Boreham in 1861 in Victoria (reg #2204)

They had the following Children:-

  • Annie Sarah Jane Grey, Born Kilmore, Victoria 1862 reg #2970. Annie Sarah Jane didn’t marry.
  • Henry George  Isaac Grey  born Campbellfield, Victoria 1864 reg #3519    died 1868 reg #3519
  • Jessie Elizabeth Grey born Melbourne Vctoria, 1866  reg #3669. Jessie married Daniel Richmond Phelan. 28/09/1892  ? Methodist Minister
  • Charles James Grey, born Collingwood,  Victoria 1868 reg #8409. Charles married Mabel Alice Heathershaw in Victoria.  Mabel’s father Henry Heathershaw was also a Primitive Methodist Minister.
  • Francis Isaac Grey, Born Geelong , Victoria 1871 reg #2651.   Francis Isaac was a school Teacher and did not marry.  He died in Melbourne on 25/02/1937.


Leary records that George went to Australia but provides no further information.

  • 1854 Howden & Selby
  • 1855 Scotter
  • 1857 Market Rasen
  • 1859 Campbellfield
  • 1860 Kilmore
  • 1862 Castlemaine

Here are the other Circuits George Grey served at:-

  • 1863 Campbellfield
  • 1865 Melbourne II
  • 1867 Melbourne I
  • 1870 Geelong
  • 1873 Melbourne  I
  • 1879 Talbot
  • 1883 Book  Steward
  • 1888 Melbourne VIII
  • 1890 Melbourne I
  • 1894 Melbourne II
  • 1895 Northcote
  • 1898 Northcote (Sup)

A report in the Hobart Times on 13 February 1895, covering a Primitive Methodist Assembly, places George as a supernumery in Melbourne, Victoria.

George Greys’ Memorial Inscription 

Sacred to the memory of George Grey
Primitive Methodist Minister
Native of Winterton, England
Died Caulfield 1 Feb 1902, 70 years
Beloved wife
Elizabeth Jane
Died 18 Oct 1913, 83yrs
Henry George
Son of the above
Died Fitzroy 8 April 1868, 4 years
Francis Isaac
Son of the above
Died 24 Feb 1937, 66years.

Family grave at Melbourne General Cemetery, Methodist Section “A”.


Primitive Methodist Magazine 1888 (portrait)

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

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