Johnson, William (1889-1973)

Transcription of obituary published in the Minutes of Conference

WILLIAM JOHNSON: born at Middleton-on-the-Wolds in the East Riding of Yorkshire in 1889. He began his working life on local farms and later entered the railway service, He was employed as a railway signalman when he received the call to the ministry, and he served in the following circuits: Nelson, Tredegar, Horsham, Aberayon, Silsden, Wakefield, Rotherham, Driffield, Horbury (Ebenezer) and Ossett and Horbury, retiring to Horbury in 1955. 

His deep love of his Lord kindled his love of preaching and the Scriptures and shaped his relationships with God’s people. To him a minister was a man called of God to be pastor, preacher and student, and in a ministry of forty-nine years he exemplified all three. His preaching was rooted in the Bible and related to life. He was an avid reader, equally at home with a book on Yorkshire cricket, chess (his favourite game), or some impressive theological tome. It had been his practice for many years since retirement to read through the Scriptures each year, and his exuberance at finding some fresh truth was infectious. His philosophy of life, shaped by his early working years, knew no sectarian boundaries, and he had friends in many places. There was a largeness about his personality which came from dwelling in the company of God, and it was this which made it possible for him to enjoy the friendship of those whose theology he could not endorse and whose churchmanship differed widely from his own. 

Though handicapped by deafness in his later years, he remained a beloved pastor to the end, and it was entirely fitting that he should be accepted by the residents of a nearby home for retired people as their unofficial and unpaid chaplain. To be close to him was to be near his Lord. He was well prepared for what he himself called “the great adventure” to which our Lord called him in such a kindly way as he was playing a game of chess with a friend. He died on 30th November, 1973 in the eighty-fifth year of his age and the fiftieth year of his ministry.


William was born on 4 September 1889 at Middleton on the Wolds, Yorkshire to parents George, a railway platelayer, and Mary Jane. His brother, Harry, was also a PM minister.

The 1911 census return records William working as a farm labourer. At the time of his marriage, he was a ticket collector.

He married Daisy Ethel Edscer (1890-1981) on 11 October 1913 at Holy Trinity, Selhurst, Surrey. Birth records identify two children.

  • George Morgan (1914-2002)
  • Ronald Edscer (1915-1982) – a doctor (1939)

William died on 30 November 1973 at Horbury, Yorkshire.


  • 1924 Nelson & Caerphilly
  • 1925 Tredegar
  • 1926 Horsham
  • 1928 Aberavon
  • 1931 Silsden
  • 1937 Wakefield
  • 1940 Rotherham
  • 1945 Driffield
  • 1949 Horbury Ebenezer
  • 1952 Ossett &c
  • 1955 Horbury (S)


Methodist Minutes 1974/143

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

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

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