Gregory, John (1850-1885)

Transcription of obituary published in the Minutes of Conference by Jesse Wilson

JOHN GREGORY was born at Shelf, in the Halifax Circuit, December 11th, 1850. At the age of ten he removed with his parents to Leeds. Here he soon formed acquaintances with boys much older than himself, and who had run further into sin, and the result was he soon left home with several of his companions, intending going to sea. After being away a short time he returned and found a loving welcome and a parental forgiveness. This seems to have been the turning point in his career. He asked his mother if she would allow him to attend Rehoboth Primitive Methodist Sunday-school, in the Leeds Third Circuit, promising to break away from all old companions and start a ‘new life,’ she accordingly consented. 

He had not been long in the Rehoboth School before the Holy Spirit began to work mightily upon him, and under the influence of a sermon preached by the Rev. W.B. Luddington he gave himself to Christ. He made a full surrender to God, and so complete was the change under the transforming power of the Gospel, that every part of his nature seemed to experience it. He became an ardent student, a devoted lover of the means of grace, and possessed a keen zest for the Bible.

At the age of nineteen he was authorised to accompany a local preacher to his appointments, and thus prepare for the great work of the ministry. In January, 1872, he was invited to the Pickering Circuit as a hired local preacher, where in September of the same year he was ‘pledged’ and remained until July, 1878. After that he laboured on the following stations:—Leeds Fifth, Sowerby Bridge and Greetland, Scholes, Pateley Bridge, St. Ives (Cornwall), and was finishing his second year in the Monmouth and Lydbrook Circuit, when death so suddenly terminated his useful life. 

In most of his circuits he experienced large success and left them much healthier and robust than when he entered. Though he had only been three years in the Bristol District, his brethren recognised his worth and ability in several honours conferred upon him, though still among the juniors, and there was much in reserve for so able a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But, alas! he is gone. On April 28th, just before 7 am., being an ardent angler, he left home with rod in hand and went to the river Monnow to fish. After being there a few minutes he leaned against a withy stump, which proved to be rotten at the base, and breaking suddenly precipitated him into the river. Several attempts were made to rescue him, but in vain; and he being unable to swim, the stream quickly carried him out of reach. He turned over on his back and floated in that position some 150 yards or more from where he got into the water, then all at once he sank to rise no more. At once a  boat was obtained and search made for the body, but it was not until two o’clock that the deceased was recovered at about the same spot as where he was seen to go down. 

At 8 a.m. on Friday morning, May 1st, a funeral service was held in the Primitive Methodist Chapel, Monmouth, prior to the removal of the body to Pickering, where it was interred, The coffin was borne into the chapel by four Primitive Methodist local preachers, Messrs. J. Breakwell, C. Prosser, ER. Jones, and E.T. Beavans, while other four, Messrs. T. Stephens, H. Hook, H.J. Bowen, and W. Hatton acted as pall bearers/ The service was conducted by the Revs. Mills Robinson (Independent), J. Silcox (Wesleyan), W. Harvey and J. Wilson (his colleagues). After thirteen years work in the ministry, and at the age of thirty-four, he has gone home to rest. In the midst of his days he was cut off, when the Church and the world are calling for earnest, consistent, godly men. Truly God’s ways are past finding out, and all we can do is to bow in submission to the Divine will, and so live that when the final summons comes we may be perfectly prepared. May the sweet consolations of the Holy Spirit be given to those left behind.

‘Ts sweet, as year by year we lose
Friends out of sight, in faith to muse
How grows in Paradise our store.’


John was born on 11 December 1850 at Shelf, Yorkshire, to parents William, a cotton dyer (1871), and Margaret.

John worked as a blacksmith before entering the ministry.

He married Ann Elizabeth Tate (b abt1854) in the summer of 1876 at Pickering, Yorkshire. Census returns identify two children.

  • Olinthus Lyon (1879-1934) – a joiner (1908)
  • Mabel Gertrude (1881-1971) – a teacher (1911); married Thomas W Sidgwick in 1914

John died on 28 April 1885 drowning near his home at Monmouth whilst on fishing trip.

Ann married Oliver Outhwaite in 1894.


  • Sunderland
  • 1872 Pickering
  • 1873 Leeds V
  • 1875 Sowerby Bridge
  • 1877 Huddersfield
  • 1878 Scholes
  • 1879 Pately Bridge
  • 1882 St Ives
  • 1883 Monmouth


PM Minutes 1885/9

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

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

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