Johnson, William F.L.S. (1844-1919)

Primitive Methodist Magazine 1900
Primitive Methodist Magazine 1911
Primitive Methodist Magazine 1918

Early years

William was born on 11 February 1844 at Halifax, Yorkshire, to parents George and Hannah. George was a wool comber and a local preacher for twenty-five years before his death aged forty-four.

William was converted at the old Shipley PM Chapel when aged seventeen. He began to preach in 1862, his first effort in a cottage evening service at Saltaire.

Before entering the ministry, William worked as a warper in worsted production.


William was appointed a superintendent immediately after completing his probation. During his first superintendency he built Loftus Chapel in the Staithes circuit.

As a preacher, William was strong, clear and impressive. His friends knew he was slightly mystical in his teaching and that he had such a firm grasp of the Christian verities that he seldom strayed into the mazes of speculation. He was singularly independent in his judgement, nor was he a man to keep back his convictions. His sermons were always instructive, practical, and pungent.

William served as District Building Committee Secretary for six years. In 1900 he was serving as Darlington and Stockton District Committee Secretary.

William became Principle of Hartley College in 1903. During his time as Principle the college was extended to be able to take ninety students.

William, although having little spare time, became a leading authority on British Lichenology. He was elected a Fellow of the Linnaean Society in 1888.


William authored the following.

Nature and Naturalists

North of England Lichen Herbarium


William married Elizabeth Clegg (1842-1868) on 7 July 1868 at Whitby, Yorkshire. Elizabeth was struck down with typhoid fever within an hour of arriving at her new home in Staithes nine days after the wedding. This turned into tuberculosis and she died on 9 December.

William married Marianne Sawyer (1843-1903) at the end of 1869 at Carlisle, Cumberland. Census returns identify two children.

  • Thomas Sawyer (1870-1940) – an accountant
  • George Vicars (b1874) – a farmer on Jersey (1911)

William married Mary Allison, nee Currah (1857-1936) in the spring of 1905 at South Shields, Co. Durham.

William died on 20 July 1919 at Harrogate, Yorkshire.


  • 1864 Maryport
  • 1865 Berwick
  • 1867 Whitby
  • 1868 Staithes
  • 1871 Alston
  • 1875 Gateshead
  • 1879 Whitehaven
  • 1881 Hartlepool
  • 1884 S Shields
  • 1889 Gateshead
  • 1893 Shildon
  • 1900 Hartlepool
  • 1903 College principal
  • 1908 Hull VI
  • 1909 Ripon (Sup)


Primitive Methodist Magazine 1869/628 (Elizabeth); 1900/83; 1911/13; 1915/739; 1918/113; 1919/702; 1921/608

PM Minutes 1920/256

B A Barber, A Methodist Pageant, 1932, p220

R Newman Wycherley, The Pageantry of Methodist Union, 1932, p1177

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

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

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