Harding, Joseph (1837-1912)
Joseph was born in 1837 at Melksham to parents William and Sarah. William was a weaver. His parents were Wesleyan Methodists and Joseph attended the Wesley Sunday School.
Joseph was educated at the British School and in due course became a pupil teacher. He gained a Queen’s Scholarship and passed through Borough Rd Training College. Joseph was engaged by Right Hon H A Bruce MP, later Lord Aberdare, as second master in Duffryn Schools, Mountain Ash. Whilst there, Joseph was converted and at the end of his three year appointment entered the ministry.
Joseph’s preaching method was to carefully prepare his outline, but not writing to length of delivery, the unwritten portion being thought out, he entered the pulpit deriving inspiration from his theme and the fervour of his hearers. He was what the Americans called a ‘live’ preacher.
Throughout his ministry Joseph preached 12,000 sermons from 2510 texts. His message was always intensely positive. He had a splendid voice of great flexibility and rich quality. Allied with musical knowledge, Joseph was able to vary his sermons with solos and interludes.
Joseph paid strict attention to the pastoral side of the minister’s work, ably supported by his wife.
He was not a great chapel builder, but worked hard at debt reduction. He had a repertoire of some 40 lectures, which were delivered 600 times and raised hundreds of pounds for Trust and other funds.
After superannuation Joseph settled in Bath. He took oversight of a new cause at Oldfield Park until ill health forced him to cease in 1909.
Joseph was strenuous in his temperance advocacy.
Joseph married Amelia Summers (1840-1922) in 1865 in the Chipping Sodbury Registration District. Census returns identify two children.
- Mary Hannah Leontine (1773-1939) – married Robert Keir, a dispensing chemist
- Joseph Thomas S (1879-1957) – a collector of accounts (1911)
Joseph died on 26 August 1912 at Bath, Somerset.
- 1861 Tredeger
- 1862 Hereford
- 1863 Pontypool
- 1864 Bath
- 1866 Redruth
- 1868 Aberdare
- 1869 Penzance
- 1872 St Day
- 1874 Frome
- 1877 Radstock
- 1879 Stroud
- 1881 Motcombe
- 1884 Newbury
- 1887 Luton l
- 1892 Bristol lll
- 1894 Pontypool
- 1897 Cardiff ll
- 1900 Newport, Mon
- 1902 Bristol
- 1906 Bristol (superannuated)
Primitive Methodist Magazine 1894//323; 1913/324
PM Minutes 1913/23
W Leary , Directory of Primitive Methodist Ministers and their Circuits , 1990
Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers