Harding, Jackson (1855-1929)

Transcription of obituary published in the Minutes of Conference by E Lacey

The Rev. Jackson Harding after a brief illness, which was one of a succession of serious illnesses he suffered after superannuation, passed away on August 5th, 1929, attended by the loving care of wife and son and daughter. His name will always be associated with Bradford. Of his 48 years in the active ministry, and seven on the retired list, 37 were spent in Bradford, and Towns immediately adjoining. In that period he became the best known and one of the most highly esteemed ministers in the District. Seldom has the District felt so keenly and so widely the passing of one of its ministers.

Commencing in Darlington, several years were spent in Middleton-in-Teesdale, North Sunderland, Brampton, Wigton, Batley, and then Bradford III. Onwards, with the exceptions of South Shields followed by a term in Glasgow, his stations were in Bradford. and its environs. Bradford III. recalled him, and enjoyed six years of a ministry in its prime—strong with the matured. beliefs and methods of an: experienced and convinced consecration, Then followed terms on Bradford II., Otley, Keighley I., Bradford III. again, and Bradford IV.

Jackson Harding was the last man in the world to. wish for or value adulation. Pose, profession, superficiality were foreign to his nature. So abhorrent was the appearance of self-seeking and pre-eminence to him that he scarcely did himself justice or allowed others to render him his due. But for his long continued service, and its inevitable fellowships, and sure appraisements, he would have been valued much beneath his worth.

Had his ministry been spread over various Districts his fine qualities might not have been fully appreciated. His nearly forty years of ministerial service in one District led to the emergence of his native reserves and in time created an atmosphere that was to him the atmosphere of home. In such conditions mind and soul flourished. The graces and gifts of his glorious and glowing nature became as instinctive in their expression as the breath he breathed. Tender, and acutely strung, whimsical in his overflowing humour, he required a constituency made familiar by close and continuous contact. Given that, he gave proof of qualities that endeared him to his public, and brought to him abounding appreciation.

He was par excellence a speaker. The ease and tunefulness of his utterance would at times hide the beauty and depth of the message. On an occasion when fancy and humour could be given play his contribution would be lucid, neatly shaded, witty, and sometimes charged with finest courage. When greatly stirred he has vibrated with passion, poured forth a torrent of words—every word a sting, every phrase a blow, and every sentence a heroic call, till his hearers have longed for nothing so much as to rise and slay the evil thing denounced. At such times the words of Whittier have leaped to mind:

“The wide world has not wealth to buy
The power in Thy right hand.”

The oratory of those whose fame has gone to the ends of the earth has not surpassed his. Young men have heard him, and instantly he became their hero.

His gifts were prophetic. He was studious, and carefully followed the mind movements of the day as they affected religion. He had also his own especial studies. These were one branch or another of the natural sciences. His views on policies, methods, and current movements were invariably prophetic. This conveyed the impression, whether in the pulpit or in the sick room, of a man clothed with the wisdom of the unseen. All who knew him are still, at the thought of him, affected by the unusual, cadence of the voice that speaks now only in memory. Nature gave him his own way of saying and doing things—a crisp and breezy way. Early surroundings at Whitby deepened this bent. The resilient spirit of sea life and youthhood never quite left him. There is an old saying; “Whom the gods love die young.” This must mean they remain young in spirit no matter what their age.

His influence over young men was an outstanding feature of his ministry. He loved their company, and spared no pains in helping them to realize themselves to the full. In Batley he taught a small class of youths in subjects that to-day are taken in evening schools and Technical. Colleges. Those boys, in every instance have made good. Two are editors, one a managing director, and others occupy positions of trust in Corporation service.

In disposition he was faithful and nobly generous. No mean word nor act, no harsh judgment, nor action prompted by envy, is remembered against him. His friendships wore well. His conduct as a Superintendent was considerate—shielding, kindly. As a predecessor he was good to follow, for his name and work were fragrant and his footprints a safe and happy path.

He leaves to mourn his loss his loved help-meet, the soul’s companion of his long pilgrimage, a daughter, to whom he was all things true and great and good, and a son Mr. Oswald J. Harding, M.Sc., who appreciates his priceless heritage. His big soul made a firmament of true affection. His home was a holy of holies where the spirit of perfect fellowship flourished, and the spring light of a love that was ever young was nurtured. |

In that light, trial, sorrow, and bereavement gathered a sacred radiance, and were bravely borne. Where love is pure there is no sorrow, where love is true there is no death.

Many gathered at Maltby Street Church, Laisterdyke, Bradford, for his burial. The Rev. E. Lacey, an old colleague, conducted the service and gave an address couched in terms of loving tribute, and was assisted by the Revs. T. Dowson, F. Firth, B.A., E. Lucas, W. Watson, W. F. Clulow, E.J. Hancox, and B.W. Tinkler. From this church, which had been enriched by fifteen years of his ministry, he was borne to rest in Bowling Cemetery.


Jackson was born in the summer of 1855 at Whitby, Yorkshire, to parents Jackson, a boat builder (1861), and Mary.

He married Mary Bowron (b1861) in the summer of 1883 in Teesdale, Co. Durham. Census returns identify three children.

  • Oswald Jackson (1884-1949) – a school teacher (1911)
  • Edgar Bowron (1889-1901)
  • Hilda Mary (1900-1973) – a foster mother in children’s home (1939)

Jackson died on 5 August 1929 at Bradford, Yorkshire.


  • 1877 Darlington
  • 1878 Middleton in Teesdale
  • 1881 N Sunderland
  • 1883 Carlisle
  • 1884 Wigton
  • 1886 Heckmondwike
  • 1889 Bradford I
  • 1890 Bradford III
  • 1892 S Shields
  • 1894 Glasgow II
  • 1897 Bradford III
  • 1903 Bradford II
  • 1906 Otley
  • 1910 Keighley
  • 1915 Bradford III
  • 1918 Bradford IV
  • 1922 Bradford IV (S)


PM Minutes 1930/281

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

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

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