Hettle, John Alexander (1885-1956)

Transcription of obituary published in the Minutes of Conference

JOHN ALEXANDER HETTLE: born at Coupland, Northumberland, in 1885. His forebears were Presbyterians and his early religious life was nourished in that confession. Because the Sunday-school was too far from his home, he was sent to the Primitive Methodist Sunday-school where, at the age of sixteen, he gave his heart to Christ and became a member of the Mission Band attached to the Milfield church. His mother exercised a strong and gracious influence on his growing religious experience, and encouraged him to respond to the call to the ministry which he was confident he had received. 

After theological training at Hartley College, he began his ministry in 1913. He travelled in Millom, Leigh, Burnley, Glasgow, Walkden, Morley, and Parkhead. In all his circuits except the last—where illness overtook him—he stayed for an extended term. Early in his married life grave sickness came to his home; and in the years which followed he himself suffered from increasing ill-health. For years he suffered much pain, and few could estimate what his devotion to the work of a Methodist preacher cost him. His spirit was so fine and his sincerity such that these experiences only served to give a deeper note to his preaching, and an understanding tenderness in his dealings with other sufferers which was a conspicuous aspect of his ministry. 

His was a gentle nature, patient in the midst of crowding difficulties, and yet strong in the service of his people—a strength which sprang from an ordered and disciplined religious life. As a superintendent he cared for his circuits with loving zeal, and watched over the interests of his colleagues as a father in God. When he was compelled, because of increasing bodily weakness, to become a supernumerary, his disappointment was keen, and at times a sense of frustration touched his gentle soul. But he faced the facts of his situation bravely, and on 16th October 1956 passed quietly away to meet his Lord, in the seventy-second year of his age and the forty-fourth of his ministry.


John was born on 8 August 1885 at Coupland, Northumberland, to parents James Hettle, a domestic gardener (1901), and Margaret Nesbit. He was baptised on 28 August 1885 at West Chapel, Wooler, Northumberland.

He married Jessie Davis (b abt1890) in the spring of 1917 at Millom, Cumberland. Birth records identify three children.

  • Kathleen (1918-1918)
  • Colin Nesbit (1920-1984) – In the Royal Artillery (1939)
  • Desmond Davis (1923-2006)

He married Mary Frances (1890-1959) 

John died on 16 October 1956 in Glasgow.


  • Hartley
  • 1913 Dalton & Millom
  • 1917 Leigh
  • 1921 Burnley II
  • 1927 Glasgow IV
  • 1936 Walkden
  • 1947 Morley Wesley
  • 1951 Glasgow Parkhead


Methodist Minutes 1957/192

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

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

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