Gillender, Robert (1854-1918)


Primitive Methodist Magazine 1913
Primitive Methodist Magazine 1913
Primitive Methodist Magazine 1920

Early years

Robert was born in 1854 at Gateshead, County Durham to parents Robert and Catherine. Robert, senior, was a blacksmith, chainmaker and local preacher.

He was brought up in the village of Swalwell, County Durham. At the age of eleven, Robert began work in Messrs. Armstrong’s engineering works.

Robert was converted at the age of fourteen, joined his father’s Sunday morning class and soon became a teacher in the Sunday School. Robert had previously attended a Greek and Latin class conducted by Rev G Samuel, the Presbyterian minister at Swalwell. Mr Samuel expressed a desire that Robert should enter the Presbyterian ministry, but in 1876 Robert became a theological student at the Sunderland Institute.


Robert was connected with several chapel building schemes, though by nature he was cautious and would never encourage the erection of anything likely to turn out to be a white elephant. On the Dent circuit, he superintended the erection of village chapels at Milthorpe and Deepdale. At Stokeley, the Great Ayton chapel was built and at Pateley Bridge a new minister’s house was erected.


Robert married Mary Williamson (1853-1912) in the summer of 1881 at Cockermouth, Cumberland. Census returns identify four children.

  • Hannah Florence (b1882)
  • Robert Henry (b1884) – served for some time as a missionary teacher in Africa with the London Missionary Society; awarded Military Cross in WW1
  • Catherine Isabella (b abt1887)
  • Alfred Williamson (1890-1917) – assistant schoolteacher (1911); died of wounds in WW1

Robert’s obituary identifies that he married a second time without providing any details.

Robert died in late 1918 at Gateshead, Co Durham.


  • Sunderland
  • 1877 Maryport
  • 1879 Whitby
  • 1880 N Sunderland
  • 1881 Darlington
  • 1882 Crook
  • 1886 Alston
  • 1888 Dent
  • 1891 Winterton
  • 1893 Stokesley
  • 1896 Knaresboroughg
  • 1899 Pateley Bridge
  • 1903 Skelmersdale
  • 1906 Lymm
  • 1908 Alnwick
  • 1912 Andover
  • 1913 Hurstborne T
  • 1916 Sturminster N
  • 1918 Gateshead (S)


Primitive Methodist Magazine 1912/415 (Mary); 1913/338; 1920/69

PM Minutes 1919/261

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

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers


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