Harper, Joseph (1838-1917)

Primitive Methodist Magazine 1899
Primitive Methodist Magazine 1917

Early years

Joseph was born in April 1838 at Moreton, nr Gnosall, Staffordshire to parents John and Hannah. John worked the land.

Joseph joined the PM church aged 16 and shortly afterwards became a local preacher in the Stafford branch of the Wrockwardinewood circuit. At the end of his apprenticeship, as a shoemaker at Wheaton Aston, Joseph moved to Empingham, Rutlandshire. As the nearest PM society was more than thirteen miles away, Joseph united himself with the Wesleyans and was received as a local preacher. He laboured with great acceptability until he was invited to preach for the Reformers. Due to accepting that invitation he was expelled from the Wesleyan Church. On moving to Oakham, Joseph once again sought out the Primitives. He was re-instated as a local preacher.

Circumstances led to Joseph moving to Stepney where he joined the James Street Church. (The 1861 census places Joseph in Stepney, London apprenticed to a cordwainer.) Officials of the London III circuit recognised Joseph as being suitable for the ministry and he was placed on the ‘Reserve List’.


Joseph’s obituary records that in the early days of his ministry he excelled as a flaming evangelist of the glorious grace of God.

Pastoral visitation was a delight to him, and many a sorrowing heart did he console, and many a burdened heart did he lighten. He loved little children and always had a word for them.


Joseph married Rebecca Fanny Beckett (1846-1899) in the summer of 1868 at Wycombe, Buckinghamshire. Census returns identify seven children.

  • Frederic William (1870-1937) – a PM Minister
  • Albert John (1871-1881)
  • Ada Mary (1872-1941) – married Albert James Strange, a coal merchant and pig fatter (1911)
  • Elizabeth Hannah (1875-1945) – a lady’s companion (1911)
  • Lillie Rebecca (1876-1966) – married Maurice Flemington, a grocer and draper
  • Francis Joseph (1880-1966) – a PM Minister
  • Harold George (1883-1956) – a music teacher

Joseph married Mary Ann Godfrey (1848-1903) in the spring of 1902 at Newbury, Berkshire.

Joseph married Sarah Mary Humphries Stanley (1858-1943), nee Best, in the summer of 1907 at Calne, Wiltshire. She was the daughter of Rev John H Best.

Joseph died on 2 May 1917 at Melksham, Wiltshire. He died after a fall from his cycle on 28 April.


  • 1863 Salisbury
  • 1864 Newbury
  • 1866 Chinnor
  • 1868 Sturminster
  • 1869 Salisbury
  • 1870 Motcombe
  • 1873 Banbury
  • 1875 Andover
  • 1878 Chipping Norton
  • 1882 Blanford
  • 1885 Chinnor
  • 1887 Salisbury
  • 1890 Donington
  • 1893 Oakham
  • 1895 Bottesford
  • 1896 Andover
  • 1899 Mountain Ash
  • 1900 Silverdale
  • 1903 Chipping Norton
  • 1904 Calne
  • 1907 St Neots
  • 1910 Colchester
  • 1913 Melksham (Sup)


Primitive Methodist Magazine 1899/403; 1917/732

PM Minutes Mins 1917/333

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

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers


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