Ion, William Wharton (1903-1988)

Transcription of obituary published in the Minutes of Conference

WILLIAM WHARTON ION: Christmas morning service at Centenary Methodist Church was shadowed by the news that Will Ion had died in the early hours of that morning. On Christmas Eve, before retiring to bed, he and his wife had prayed and sung together the carol, “O come to my heart, Lord Jesus, there is room in my heart for Thee”. Will was born on 11th May 1903 in Doncaster, and it seemed inevitable that he would be connected with the coal industry. As a teenager he worked in the office at Edlington, Yorkshire Main Colliery. He heard the call of Christ to discipleship and immediately gave himself wholeheartedly to God in witness and service. He trained as a local preacher and, in the providence of God, knew a deep longing to become a Methodist minister. 

He trained at Hartley Victoria College and then served in the following circuits: Caistor, Market Rasen, Horncastle, Brigg, Waddingham, Louth, Bacup and Ravenstall (Waterfoot), Manchester (Droylsden and Openshaw), Sheffield (Surrey Street), West Bromwich, Blackheath, Cradley Heath (Christ Church), and Manchester (Droylsden and Openshaw) again. He retired to the Boston Circuit, Lincolnshire, and was the Free Church Chaplain to the Pilgrim Hospital for some years. 

His first love was his Lord. That shone through in every aspect of his life. His personal devotional life was expressed in a daily spiritual journal which he kept throughout his ministry (all written in shorthand). His passion for the Church’s prayer life and mission was something very deeply held within his soul and was often expressed diplomatically and graciously. He had an alert mind and kept abreast with the changing theological climate and emphases within the Church. He was a great encourager when fresh ideas were tried, particularly making sure that young people were helped in new enterprises. 

His second love was his family. In the early years of his ministry in Lincolnshire he met Ruby, and her supportive role was evident to the end. They had four daughters and the love given to them was clearly expressed by the eldest daughter when she spoke at his funeral service. He always had time for them. He loved life, liked cycling, enjoyed swimming and walking. He loved people and had always a positive word to say to everyone he met. He never stood on ceremony, but like his Master humbly served. As the chaplain at Pilgrim Hospital he endeared himself to many people who still pay tribute to his selfless ministry in healing. 

In one of the many poems he wrote this verse summarizes his life’s work:

I pray because I must;
I need to breathe God’s air,
To live by daring faith and trust
And vitalising prayer.

He died on 25th December 1988 in the eighty-sixth year of his age and the sixty-second year of his ministry.


William was born on 11 May 1903 at Doncaster, Yorkshire, to parents Thomas Bromley Ion, a boot repairer (1911), and Harriet Harrison.

He married Ruby Leggate King (1906-2005) in the summer of 1931 at Boston, Lincolnshire. Birth records identify three of four children.

  • Margaret H (b1937) – married Paul S Cook in 1964
  • Gwendolen L (b1944) – married John P Blackwell in 1969
  • Elizabeth K (b1948) – married Norman Sidebottom in 1978

William died on 25 December 1988 at Boston, Lincolnshire.


  • 1924 Market Rasen
  • 1926 Hartley
  • 1928 Horncastle
  • 1930 Brigg
  • 1933 Louth
  • 1938 Bacup &c
  • 1941 Manchester Higher Openshaw
  • 1945 Sheffield, Surrey
  • 1950 W Bromwich Wesley
  • 1955 Blackheath
  • 1959 Cradley Heath
  • 1966 Manchester Droylesdon
  • 1970 Boston (Sup)


Methodist Minutes 1989/57

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

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

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