Ladlay, Ralph (1895-1947)

Transcription of obituary published in the Minutes of Conference

RALPH LADLEY: born at Preston, Lancs, in 1895. He came from a well-known northern Primitive Methodist family, his father being a leading layman of that Church and a great lover of missions. It is small wonder that, from such a missionary home, the son should have entered the Ministry in 1918, after demobilization from the Army, with the one purpose of giving his whole ministry to Africa. 

He was immediately appointed to Eastern Nigeria, taking his Hartley College course after his first term in that country. He was greatly disappointed when, in 1940, he had for a time to return to the home work. After a period as Army Chaplain, he served in the Hornsea (Market Place) Circuit. The way opened for his return to West Africa in 1945, and he became Chairman of the Gambia District. 

He died during his first furlough from his new appointment, having already formed and instituted plans for the development of the District which marked him out as a great missionary leader. He was beloved by African and European alike with a more than ordinary love. In Nigeria he served in several circuits, chiefly among the Ibos, whose difficult language he learned and into which he translated Pilgrim’s Progress. Awe-inspiring tales are told of his early endurance. He flinched from no test of his courage, sometimes, under his strong sense of Christian duty, undertaking journeys on foot from which he had to be carried home to his mud-and-thatch dwelling completely exhausted. No man was more modest in his disposition.

Only with the utmost and most genuine diffidence did he accept on two occasions the post of Acting Chairman of the Eastern Nigeria District. His competence to discharge its duties was fully known to his brethren. His later work in the Gambia District is indicative of how well placed was their trust in him. Not least among his achievements in the Gambia is that, besides creating a new zeal for evangelism among his people, he was instrumental in bringing together Roman Catholics and Anglo-Catholics with the Methodist Church in one aspect of co-operative secondary education. He died, all too young, at Cambridge on 12th May 1947, in the fifty-second year of his age and in the twenty-ninth year of his ministry.


Ralph was born in 1895 at Preston, Lancashire, to parents John William Ladlay, a provisions commission agent (1911), and Sarah Ann Yarwood. His older brother Thomas was also a PM minister.

He married Edith Agnes Bradbury (1902-1998) in the spring of 1926 in the Blaby Registration District, Leicestershire.

Ralph died on 12 May 1947 at Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire.


  • Hartley
  • 1919 Hull I
  • 1920 E Nigeria


Methodist Minutes 1947/157

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

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

No Comments

Start the ball rolling by posting a comment on this page!

Add a comment about this page

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *