Grieves, Joseph (1800-1862)

Primitive Methodist Magazine 1850

Early years

Joseph was born on 11 January 1800 at Auckside, near Middleton in Teesdale, Co Durham. His family had originated from Scotland. Joseph attended school until the age of 14. Although he had been deeply affected by a sermon preached by John Hall, a Wesleyan local preacher, when aged ten, as Joseph grew up he became addicted to drunkenness, profane song singing and poaching. He had several  close shaves with the law, indeed his father died whilst he was on bail awaiting a trial at Durham Crown Court. He managed to avoid serious punishment and became convicted of his sin. It took some 12 months before he found his peace at a lovefeast held at Westgate in May1824, where John Hewson was the preacher. His name appeared on the plan in 1825. Around this time Joseph was instrumental in conversion of John Leekley, the founder of Primitive Methodism in the Western States of America.


Joseph’s first placement from the Hull circuit in 1826 was at Barnard Castle. After three months he moved to Westgate and Alston. In 1829 he opened St Ives, preaching there for the first time on 29 June . When he preached there again on 5 August a crowd of over 2000 people had gathered to hear him. A large chapel was built and Joseph preached at the opening.

In Cwm and Birmingham, Joseph had successful ministries. However, his time in Tunstall was a time of sadness when his wife died in 1840 after giving birth to a fifth daughter.

At Wrockwardinewood, Joseph had a period of poor health which continued to re-occur for the remainder of his ministry.

As a minister he was useful in the conversion of sinners. His preaching was solid rather than showy; calculated to instruct rather than to dazzle. His sermons were well studied and contained the pith of the Gospel.


Joseph married Ann Lucas (d1840) on 5 January 1832 at St Austell.  Census returns identify four daughters. (Based on his obituary one further daughter is unidentified.)

  • Mary (b1832) – dressmaker
  • Ann (b1833) – a milliner
  • Jane (b abt1836) – a governess
  • Celina (1840-1856)

Joseph married Mary Ann Lewis (1806-1882) in October 1842 in Ludlow.  Census returns identify three children.

  • Evelina (1847-1867)
  • Julia (1848-1871)
  • Joseph (b1850)

Joseph died on 9 June 1862 at Brierley Hill, Birmingham.


  • 1826 Hull
  • 1828 Redruth
  • 1830 St Austell
  • 1832 Cwm
  • 1835 Birmingham
  • 1838 Tunstall
  • 1840 Ludlow
  • 1843 Prees
  • 1846 Cwm
  • 1848 Tunstall
  • 1850 Wrockwardinewood
  • 1853 West Bromwich
  • 1855 Brierley Hill
  • 1858 Birmingham
  • 1861 Sandbach


Primitive Methodist Magazine 1850/577 (portrait); 1862/641

PM Minutes 1862/7

J Petty, The History of the Primitive Methodist Connexion, 1880, p209, p242, p289, p372, p491

H B Kendall, Origin and History of the PM Church, vol 2, p147

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

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers


Comments about this page

  • Could you tell me if you have more information about John Leekley? You mention that Grieves helped bring Leekley into the PM fold. I study the PM church and the lead miners of the Upper Mississippi River Valley Lead District. John Leekley was my ancestor. I have a lot about Leekley but perhaps there are records about him and his family in England that I don’t have access to. Thank you, Tracey

    By Tracey Roberts (29/11/2012)
  • John was born at Middleton in Teesdale, Co Durham on 4 September 1803. Petty (p473) says he was one of the first converts at Middleton-in Teesdale. He became a local preacher and in 1827, for a short time, became an itinerant preacher stationed at Pocklington, Yorkshire. He withdrew from the itinerant ministry from a sense of ‘unfitness’ for the work. In 1842 he emigrated to America and settled near Galena, Illinois. There he set about forming a Primitive Methodist Society, which had its first Quarterley Meeting in February 1843 at Granthill, near Galena. There they appointed a travelling preacher and the work developed. By 1847 there was a society of 280 members employing four travelling preachers. John died on 27 February 1854. An obituary can be found in the Primitive Methodist Magazine 1854, p714.

    By Geoff Dickinson (29/11/2012)

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