Howard, William (1885-1982)

Transcription of obituary published in the Minutes of Conference

WILLIAM HOWARD: born on 1st December 1885 at Gayton, Kings Lynn, and left school at only eleven years of age. After working first on the land he eventually found his way into the blacksmith’s shop, because he was keen to work with machinery. But others saw in him the potential for ministry in the Primitive Methodist Church, long before he was aware of the call himself. His candidature was accepted in 1907, but he had to wait a year before entering Hartley College, Manchester. 

Probation years were spent in the Lowestoft, Wangford and Radstock Circuits. After ordination at Bristol in 1915 he served in the following circuits: Kelsale, Ipswich, Manea, Thetford, Rockland, Watton and Rockland, Wymondham, Aylsham, Brixton and Reepham, and Acle. He became a supernumerary in 1953. He served as Synod secretary from 1938 to 1950, his skill in administration being one of his chief qualities. All but one year of his long ministry was spent in East Anglia. 

As early as 1931 the Primitive Methodist “Mid-Norfolk Messenger” commented on his reluctance to move from his native place, but contrasted with this his eagerness to venture forth in the Spirit. It praised his diligence and care as a minister of the grace of God, and the special art he had of “sublimating the commonplace”. In later years William Howard fulfilled a different kind of ministry, but one equally valuable to the many friends who made periodic pilgrimages to visit him. 

After the death of his wife, Alice, in 1959, and the onset of blindness and other handicaps, life could have become a burden. But with the constant help of his daughter, Joan, he retained a keen interest in everything around him, and a remarkably alert mind and memory. 

On 15th June 1982 he died peacefully at home in the ninety-seventh year of his age and the seventy-first year of his ministry.


William was born on 1 December 1885 at Gayton, Kings Lynn, Norfolk, to parents Arthur, who worked the land, and Sarah.

He married Alice Flatman (1884-1959) in the summer of 1915 in the Freebridge Lynn Registration District, Norfolk. Birth records identify one child.

  • Joan (b1917) – a shorthand typist (1939)

William died on 15 June 1982 in the Norwich Outer Registration District, Norfolk.


  • Hartley
  • 1911 Lowestoft
  • 1912 Wangford
  • 1914 Radstock
  • 1915 Kelsale
  • 1919 Ipswich
  • 1923 Manea
  • 1927 Thetford
  • 1931 Rockland
  • 1933 Watton & Rock
  • 1935 Wymondham
  • 1944 Aylsham
  • 1948 Acle
  • 1953 Acle (Sup)


Methodist Minutes 1983/67

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

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

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