Huff, James (1816-1903)

Primitive Methodist Magazine 1875
Primitive Methodist Magazine 1904

Early years

James was born on 8 May 1816 at Snead, Mongomeryshire. His parents were strict Episcopalians. James received an early education from a village dame who imperfectly taught him to read and write. At the age of 12 James left home to be a ‘plough boy’ for £1 in the first year and £2 in the second.

He continued to go to the Episcopal church, yet his soul found no satisfaction through her ritual. He began to attend Primitive Methodist services and while listening to Miss Bowen, sister to Robert Bowen, he was converted. James told the people in the village how his life had changed and within a few months 10 people were converted. In June 1836 his name appeared on the plan and in 1841 he received a call for the regular ministry from three circuits. In modesty, James said no, but a year later accepted a call from his own circuit.


James became a permanent member of conference in 1886.

His obituary records that he was successful in winning men to Christ. It is said that in 1887, when he superannuated, that out of the 60 ministers called out of Shropshire, 40 owed their conversions to James. The secret of his success lay in his private prayer, his tears, his practical sympathy with men; his thoughts ever were ‘What can I do to save men and glorify God’.


James married Eleanor Wold Wooley (1819-1860) in 1849 at Bishops Castle. Census returns identify three children.

  • Sarah Anna (b1849) – married James Owens, a woodman
  • William Richard Wooley (1857-1929) – a solicitor (known as Richard)
  • Louisa (1858-1930) – an apartment housekeeper in 1911

James later married Martha Wilson (1812-1897).

James died on 11 July 1903 at Bishops Castle, Shropshire.


  • 1842 Bishops Castle
  • 1843 Market Drayton
  • 1844 Ludlow
  • 1845 Burland
  • 1846 Oswestry
  • 1847 Longton
  • 1849 Rubury
  • 1851 Bromyard
  • 1853 Hadnall
  • 1855 Prees Green
  • 1857 Minsterley
  • 1859 Presteign
  • 1862 Congleton
  • 1864 Darlaston
  • 1867 Wrockwardinewood
  • 1870 Dudley
  • 1873 Lichfield
  • 1876 Bilston
  • 1880 Tipton
  • 1885 Old Hill
  • 1887 Bishops Castle (Sup)


Primitive Methodist Magazine 1875 (portrait); 1904/405

PM Minutes 1904/26

H B Kendall, Origin and History of the PM Church, vol 2, p280

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

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers



Comments about this page

  • This page was modified on 28 November 2017 to add a transcription of James’ obituary published in the Primitive Methodist Magazine 1904.

    By Geoff Dickinson (28/11/2017)

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