Hadfield, Isaac (1838-1894)

Transcription of obituary published in the Primitive Methodist Magazine by G Ford

“I was dumb, I opened not my mouth because Thou didst it,” was the general feeling that spread over the friends on the Lincoln First Station when they heard that their Superintendent, Rev. J. Hadfield, had been called from their midst to his reward in the skies. By his death the Connexion has lost one of its excellent and most devoted ministers. He has passed away at the comparatively early age of fifty-six, rich in piety, Christian culture, and the love and esteem of all who knew him.

He was born October 3rd, 1838, at Sheffield. His parents were “Primitives” of the third generation, and to their prayers and Christian training may be largely attributed those qualities of mind and heart which made our brother such a potent influence as a Christian minister.

As a youth he evinced considerable buoyancy of spirit, and frequently indulged in that frivolity characteristic of young life. Gifted with an exceptionally fine voice, song-singing became a snare to him. This caused his parents great anxiety, and made them most solicitous for his conversion. He was awakened to a sense of his condition at a watch-night service in Stanley Street Chapel, Sheffield, conducted by Rev. J. Howell; and, although no definite stand was taken that night, yet, when a short time afterwards he became a partaker of God’s saving grace, he said, “I could never get over that watch-night service, the silent prayer, and Howell’s address.”

His conversion was manifest to all. He at once united with the Stanley Street Society, and began a life of usefulness. He successively became a Sunday School teacher, the assistant leader of a society class, and local preacher; and so acceptably did he preach the word, that wherever he went he was asked for again. His success in these local spheres convinced his brethren he ought to be “separated unto the work of the ministry,” a work whereunto they believed the Holy Ghost had assuredly called him. But if he shrank from a work so great, it was not through lack of interest, but because he realised his own inefficiency and the vastness of the issues involved. “Never,” writes his brother, “shall I forget his prayers at this time for Divine guidance.” He soon became assured of the Divine will, and consecrated his life to the preaching of Christ and the care of the churches. 

For a few months he laboured at Rotherham as hired local preacher. His regular ministry began in 1859, when, under the care of the General Missionary Committee, he was sent to Teignmouth. He subsequently laboured on the following stations : Falmouth, Cardiff, Glastonbury, Exeter, Teignmouth (second time), Ryde, Chatham, Dartford, Gravesend, Crowle, Scotter, Louth, and Lincoln First. On all these stations a good work was done, notably so during his lengthened stay at Ryde, where, amid much discouragement and many difficulties, he built two chapels and renovated all the others on the circuit.

As a preacher he needed not to be ashamed. His sermons were evangelical, practical, pointed, and full of fervour. His aim was to preach, not self, but Christ. His pastoral visits were marked by discretion and attention to the spiritual interests of his flock. From the many letters received testifying to his worth, we select the following:— Rev. W. Mainprize writes: “During the four years in which it was my privilege to be under his superintendency, I had many opportunities of noting his interest and zeal in the work of the ministry, and his passion for soul-winning. He was truly a faithful minister of the church, and a successful worker for the Master.”

Rev. J.W. Lisle says:— “I found him to be a very kind and considerate superintendent, always ready to render what help he could to his colleagues. He was a faithful minister. How he loved his work, taking the greatest interest in everything connected with the circuit. He was a most efficient and painstaking superintendent. He has done his work, and done it well, and I am sure will receive the Master’s “well done.”

His happiest hours were spent in circuit work, and although his brethren were not slow to recognise his worth and confer the honours at their disposal upon him, it may truthfully be said, he filled every post assigned him to the best of his ability, but never sought office.

In his home-life he was not less considerate, a tender and affectionate husband, a careful and wise father; his counsels and advice are treasured up and gratefully remembered by those he has left behind.

Though never physically robust, only once during twenty-eight years was he compelled to take rest for more than a few days through ill-health. To rest while able to work was foreign to his nature. His desire was to die in harness. Perhaps had he been more sparing of his strength he might have lived longer to engage in the work he so dearly loved.

But the end has come, and sooner than was anticipated. He was weakened by an attack of the terrible influenza, and never fully regained his strength; but his ardent determination “kept him at his work till the Christmas of 1893, when for a few weeks he was compelled to rest. The return of spring, however, revived hope, and with all the old-time vigour he was again diligent at the call of duty, and the rich cadence of his voice rang through the house of God. Alas! the hopes thus inspired were soon-cut off. Early in May he was taken with jaundice and for several weeks was again confined to the house. Though brought very low, he rallied and once more was found visiting in the homes of the people. On the Saturday previous to his death he was caught in a slight shower, and took a chill which brought on inflammation, and notwithstanding all was done that careful nursing and medical skill could devise, he passed quietly away on the afternoon of Tuesday, June 26th, 1894. 

His remains were interred in the Canwick Road Cemetery, Lincoln, near where rest other honoured servants of our church, on Saturday, Jume 3oth, in the presence of a large company of ministers and friends who had gathered from various places in the district to pay their last token of respect to the deceased. An impressive service was previously held in the Portland Place chapel, conducted by the Revs. G. Ford and J. Pearson, Rev. H.G. Button delivered a most suitable address, and the various Nonconformist ministers of the city also took part. His death was improved by the Rev. H.G. Button at Portland Place chapel, on Sunday, July 8th, and by Rev, J. Pearson at Newark Road on the following Sunday. He is gone, but lives amongst us still by his life and example. May we follow him as he followed Christ. He leaves a widow and six children to mourn his loss, one of whom, Rev. F.J. Hadfield, now stationed at Whitstable, is in our ministry

“It is not exile, rest on high;
It is not sadness, peace from strife;
To fall asleep is not to die;
To dwell with Christ is better life.”


Isaac was born on 3 October 1838 at Sheffield, Yorkshire, to parents William, who worked the land (1841), and Mary.

He married Alice Yeo (abt1842-1924) in the summer of 1866 at Cardiff, Glamorgan. Census returns identify six children.

  • Frederick Josiah (1867-1930) – a PM minister
  • William Ernest (b1869) – manager of a boot and shoe retail business (1911)
  • Mary Elizabeth (b1870) – a music teacher (1901)
  • Emily Alice (b1872)
  • Joseph Herbert (1873-1955) – an ironmonger’s assistant (1911)
  • Louisa Helen (1876-1941) – married John Alfred Josiah Silcox, a civil engineer’s estimator (1911), in 1905

Isaac died on 26 June 1894 at Lincoln, Lincolnshire.


  • 1860 Teignmouth
  • 1861 Liskeard
  • 1863 Falmouth
  • 1864 Cardiff
  • 1866 S Molton
  • 1867 Glastonbury
  • 1868 Exeter & exmouth
  • 1870 Torquay & Teignmouth
  • 1872 Ryde
  • 1877 Chatham
  • 1880 Gravesend
  • 1883 Crowle
  • 1886 Scotter
  • 1890 Louth
  • 1893 Lincoln I


Primitive Methodist Magazine 1895/385

PM Minutes 1895/8

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

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

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