Hartley, Ernest Beecher B.A., B.D. (1896-1970)

Transcription of obituary published in the Minutes of Conference

ERNEST BEECHER HARTLEY, B.A., B.D.: born in Murton, Co. Durham, on 2 October 1896, his offer for the ministry, from the Hetton-le-Hole Circuit, which had already produced a stream of Primitive Methodist ministers, seemed a natural progression. He entered Hartley College and speedily applied his disciplined mind to a course of study which brought him high academic honours in the double degree of B.A. and B.D. in Manchester University. The influence of A.S. Peake and Samuel Alexander initiated his life-long interest in theology and philosophy. The books by his bedside on the day of his death clearly show that he never ceased to study. 

He served in the following circuits: Plymouth, Houghton-le-Spring, Stanley, Middlesbrough, Birkenhead (South), Bebington, Halifax (Fairfield), Pontefract (Micklegate), Retford, Wath-upon-Dearne, Morley. After two years as a supernumerary in Hitchin he and his wife moved to Scarborough where they became much loved members of the Burniston society, the whole circuit being greatly helped by his gracious pulpit ministry. 

Never spectacular or flamboyant he brought to all these ministries the best of his well-stocked mind and the fruits of a regular personal devotional life. He was a deeply spiritual man. But the mystical element in him was finely balanced by practicalities. In the area of administration he was meticulous, guiding business meetings with benevolent authority. He was correct, orthodox and disciplined, yet always without rigidity; warm in his affections, tolerant of all weaknesses except his own, kindly in his judgements. Throughout his life he combined the ardour of the evangelist with the passion of the student for truth. His scholarship never came between him and his people, whose problems he knew with the intimacy of loving concern. He specialized in the training of local preachers, some of whom are now in the ministry, others in important lay offices. As husband, pastor, administrator, colleague, friend, he exhibited the highest qualities of the Christian character. 

He died, peacefully and fittingly, on Easter Sunday morning, 29 March 1970, in the seventy-fourth year of his age and the forty-sixth of his ministry.


Ernest was born on 2 October 1896 at Murton, Co. Durham, to parents William Henderson Hartley, a coal miner (1911), and Alice Elliott Hartley.

He married Mary Alice Bell (1899-1988) in late 1926 at Murton, Co. Durham.

Ernest died on 29 March 1970 at Burniston, Scarborough, Yorkshire.


  • 1922 Plymouth
  • 1924 Hartley
  • 1927 Houghton le Spring
  • 1931 Stanley
  • 1936 Middlesbrough
  • 1939 Birkenhead S
  • 1943 Bebington
  • 1944 Halifax Fairchild
  • 1948 Pontefract Micklegate
  • 1953 Retford
  • 1956 Wath &c
  • 1960 Morley
  • 1962 Hitchin (Sup)


Methodist Minutes 1970/187

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

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

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