Transcription of obituary published in the Minutes of Conference
FRANCIS JOSEPH HARPER: born in Chipping Norton in 1880. He was a modest and self-effacing man. He managed to combine a deep natural reticence with a transparent friendliness; he never thrust himself forward, but the humblest felt it easy to approach him, and he was a great comfort to many in affliction. He came from a family with strong ministerial ties, both his father and his older brother being ministers in the Primitive Methodist Church. He also inherited the family love of singing, and, like his father before him, often sang a solo in the course of conducting public worship.
Francis Harper entered the active work of the ministry in 1904 after training at Hartley College. During the 1914-18 war, while a minister at Pewsey, he felt impelled to join the army, and became a lieutenant in the Royal Garrison Artillery. He saw active service in France, where his fortitude and Christian convictions were a source of strength to his companions. At the end of the war, he returned to the ministry at Malton, and subsequently served in Thirsk, Rockland, Fincham, Birmingham (Lord St.), Dawley and Madeley, Ebbw Vale and Leeds (Rothwell).
His preaching was marked by a strong interest in prophecy, and he studied deeply to master its meanings. In 1948 he retired with his wife to Norwich, where they lived with their two daughters. From that home flowed a constant succession of kind deeds. In his retirement he seldom missed a service either as appreciative listener or earnest preacher of the gospel. He died 29 March 1966, in the eighty-sixth year of his age and the sixty-second of his ministry.
Francis was born on 8 August 1880 at Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, to parents Joseph, a PM minister, and Rebecca Fanny Beckett.
Before entering the ministry Francis worked as an engineer’s clerk.
He married Bertha Elizabeth Clayton (1884-1986) in late 1908 at Silverdale, Staffordshire. Census returns and birth records identify two children.
- Clarice Mary (1909-2000) – an elementary school teacher (1939)
- Frances Edith (1912-1999) – a clerk in wholesale textile business (1939)
Francis died on 29 March 1966 at Norwich, Norfolk.
- 1904 Brinkworth
- 1905 Liverpool II
- 1906 Swaffham
- 1908 Kelsale
- 1911 Bromsgrove
- 1913 Kingstone
- 1916 Chaplain H.M. Forces
- 1919 Malton
- 1923 Thirsk
- 1926 Rockland
- 1931 Fincham
- 1935 Birmingham
- 1938 Dawley &c
- 1944 Ebbw Vale
- 1947 Leeds, Rothwell
- 1948 Norwich (Sup)
Methodist Minutes 1966/210
W Leary, Directory of Primitive Methodist Ministers and their Circuits, 1990
Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers