Griffin, James (1853-1929)

Primitive Methodist Magazine 1911
Primitive Methodist Magazine 1930
Primitive Methodist Magazine 1911

Early years

James was born on 29 December 1853 at Cradley Heath, Staffordshire, to parents William Griffin and Phoebe Price. William was a blacksmith who moved into manufacturing anchors and chain.

His parents were able to give James a good education, including a term at a Malvern Boarding School.

James was converted when eleven under the ministry of Rev James Baines. He made his first attempt at preaching when aged fourteen. James was placed on the Brierley Hill circuit plan. His early development was also made under the wing of Rev Joseph Ferguson.


Although denied the advantages of a theological college training, James set himself the task of making up for that omission and soon became one of the best equipped men of his day theologically, philosophically and in many other respects. His self-acquired mastery of New Testament Greek was a revelation; his knowledge of philosophy, with a strong preference for the idealistic, was extensive and profound.

His obituary records that great days were witnessed in Hull and the Potteries. Souls were saved; believers were stimulated and edified; local preachers were made. Increasing blindness imposed certain limitations, and brought him to his Gethsemane, but faith triumphed, and indomitable courage and rare persistence enabled him to overcome his affliction. He built up a large Braille library.

James was president of the 1910 Conference Arrangements Committee.

James superannuated in 1918, but remained active as ever. Laughingly he would say, ‘I am nor superannuated, but superanimated.’


James married Harriet Proverbs (1856-1932) in the summer of 1879 at Birmingham, Warwickshire. Census returns identify four of seven children.

  • James Ferguson (1880-1907) – a mechanical engineer (1901)
  • Amy Bertha Proverbs (1882-1964) – married George Horleston, a commercial traveller
  • Percy Thomas (1884-1965) – a clerk (1901)
  • Ernest John (1888-1962) – a lithographer (1911)

James died on 21 September 1929 at Newport, Monmouthshire.


  • 1875 Gen Committee Agent
  • 1877 Birmingham I
  • 1879 Cwm
  • 1880 Talke
  • 1883 Tunstall
  • 1886 Grimsby II
  • 1893 Hull III
  • 1896 Hull II
  • 1897 Goole
  • 1901 Burslem
  • 1907 Tunstall
  • 1911 Pontypool
  • 1914 Cross Keys
  • 1918 Newport, Mon (S)


Primitive Methodist Magazine 1911/126; 1930/183

PM Minutes 1930/273

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 updated on 19 November 2015 to add information about James’ parents and a link to a page about his father.

    By Geoff Dickinson (19/11/2015)

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