Haywood, James William (1853-1919)

Transcription of obituary published in the Minutes of Conference by John Henry Hirst

James W. Haywood served twenty-six years in the active work, superannuating in 1902. Tall and well built, it seemed as if a long ministry would be his, but in reality he was never strong, his labours were broken by suffering, and his period of superannuation was also a time of frequent illness. 

His work was largely in southern circuits—long distances, heavy liabilities and struggling societies fell to his lot—and many of his circuits made heavy calls on his strength. His stations were: London VII., Dunstable, Gravesend, Bognor, Newmarket, Newport (Isle of Wight), Portsmouth, Maldon, Yeovil, Sheerness, Slough, Canterbury, Ramsor, Dawley and Woburn Sands. He settled in Birmingham on superannuation, taking up several business commissions, and taking ‘supply’ work among all the churches.

He was a thoughtful preacher, and had a marked gift in prayer, and was welcomed in the pulpits of the Free Churches. The shadow of need and suffering was over him, but through it all he kept his faith. The war brought its own keen tribulation, one son being killed in action, and the other wounded, the father and mother passing through deep tribulation. The final illness, short and unexpected, was marked by an agony of pain, and the release on October 18th, 1919, was a great mercy. 

The Rev. D.C. Cooper conducted the funeral, and tendered services of comfort and consolation, and later, the Rev. J.H. Hirst preached the memorial sermon at Bristol Hall (with which church Mr. Haywood was a member) expressing the sympathy of all with the widow and son. Little was known of Mr. Haywood’s active years in Birmingham, and so we gratefully place on record the tribute of the Rev. B. Arnfield, an old colleague:

‘Twenty years ago,’ writes Mr. Arnfield, ‘it was my good fortune to have James W. Haywood as my superintendent in the Ramsor Circuit. During the three years we travelled together on the station, the most happy, personal relationship existed between us, and our official co-operation was characterised by perfect harmony from beginning to end. Not a single jar marred our relationship and work in the Master’s service. Such was due chiefly to his fine personality, his brotherly disposition and his considerate methods. Take him all in all, no colleague could have had a better superintendent than I found him to be. He was genial and genuine, his geniality not being like a veneer to serve a purpose, but being rooted in his character and temperament. He was trustful and trustworthy, and confidence reposed in him was not misplaced. . . In his appreciation of the work of others he was generous, never damping the ardour of his colleague with “faint praise,’’ and to me he seemed incapable of countenancing anything that would impair the prestige or reputation of his fellow-workers. I count it one of the joys of my ministry to have had the privilege of being his colleague in circuit life and labours. As a circuit minister he was of the practical type, looking after the varied interests of his station with a well-balanced proportion. . . . His public efforts were invariably pointed, practical, helpful, and I frequently heard expressions of appreciation from people of different types of mind. In circuit administration he was alert and diligent, paying close attention to detail. Circuit finances (with special calls) were put on a sound basis. With considerable success he supervised the erection of a beautiful village church at Stramshall. His attention to detail was markedly evident in missionary matters, which meant much time and labour in an extensive circuit of tiny societies. Up to the time of his cycling accident, he served the station remarkably well, and a steady improvement in its condition generally was clearly evident. The accident happened in his third year, and though apparently recovering somewhat, so as to be able to commence duty on Dawley Station in the succeeding July, the effects of the accident were such as to necessitate his retirement from active work in a couple of years, to the profound regret of all who knew his worth, and to the distinct loss by our Church of a very useful circuit minister.’ 

No more worthy appreciation can be given than this generous word of Mr. Arnfield’s, and to one who only knew Mr. Haywood in his retirement, it seems most fitting such testimony to the worth of the active ministry should be set forth here. We give thanks for the faith that stood the test of both service and suffering, and commend the wife and son to the prayerful remembrance of the Church he served.


James was born in 1853 at Exmouth, Devon, to parents George Haywood, a mariner, and Pitman Anna Long.

He married Edith Charlotte Humphrey, nee Watson (1854-1942). Census returns identify two of three children.

  • Lionel George (1895-1974) – a shop keeper (cafe) (1939)
  • Stanley James (1896-1916) – killed in action in WW1

James died on 18 October 1919 at Edgbaston, Birmingham, Warwickshire.


  • 1876 London VII
  • 1877 Dunstable
  • 1878 Gravesend
  • 1880 Chichester
  • 1881 Wickhambrook
  • 1882 Newport, Isle of Wight
  • 1885 Portsmouth
  • 1886 Maldon
  • 1889 Yeovil
  • 1890 Sheerness
  • 1892 Windsor
  • 1895 Canterbury
  • 1897 Ramsor
  • 1900 Dawley
  • 1901 Woburn Sands
  • 1902 Birmingham (S)


PM Minutes 1920/252

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

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

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