Leggate, Herbert MC (1890-1965)

Transcription of obituary published in the Minutes of Conference

HERBERT LEGGATE, M.C.: born at Lincoln in 1891 and was one of a large family. He began work as a pupil teacher, but a discerning headmaster guided him into the ministry for which he trained in Hartley. It was in these years that his gift for influencing men and boys began to flower. He was permitted in addition to his academic studies to take a leading part in youth work at nearby Great Western Street Methodist Church. After college his first appointment was to the Newton and Hyde Circuit where he found on the outbreak of war a Scottish regiment billeted. Moving in among them he soon enlisted as a private and sailed with them to France. Later, commissioned as a chaplain, he went with them into the front line. It was for gallantry in rescuing wounded men that he was awarded the Military Cross and Bar. 

War ended, he returned to Manchester for one of the two major tasks of his ministry: special work among the young people of Manchester VIth Circuit generally and at the Great Western Street Church in particular. This was pioneering and he excelled in it. He maintained a pulpit ministry of high quality to a congregation which included large numbers of young people and the staff and students of Hartley College. He guided many into a vital experience of God. The impact of his personality, in the pulpit or out of it, compelled attention and directed it to his Creator. Many men who first met him in their boyhood and youth pay tribute to his vital presentation of religion. 

Kingswood School made him a governor and welcomed his visits to the school chapel. It was during his Manchester ministry that he married Gladys Harrison, a daughter of the manse. She shared his love of people and together they made a home where those in need found joy and refreshment of body and soul. After twelve years in the Great Western Street Circuit he began the second major task of his ministry: his work for Toc H. At first in North-West Manchester, then in London, New Zealand, Canada, and Germany he taught and wrote and organised. He had a passionate concern for men wherever he found them. Toc H knew his worth and appointed him Administrative Padre in 1940, an office he held until 1956. Methodism can be proud that he answered this call to serve a frontier society moving out from the established Christian community to encounter men outside its institutional purview. In a real sense it was the natural outworking of his ministry. When the late Lord Bledisloe, a former Governor-General of New Zealand, thanked Toc H for all those who had been sent out to help them he added: “particularly for that astonishingly live-wire Herbert Leggate’’. Those who knew him best will share that gratitude. 

A truly dynamic personality he radiated zest and joy. The enemy of cant and stuffiness, he served his Lord with an infectious gaiety. He was a lovable human parson who had an infinite capacity for making friends and losing railway tickets and matches. His insight, compassion, and understanding brought to innumerable men and women the true meaning of life as he himself knew it, rooted in God. He died on holiday in Scotland on 5 July 1965, in the seventy-fourth year of his age and the fifty-first of his ministry.


Herbert was born on 7 March 1890 at Lincoln, Lincolnshire, to parents Alfred, a blacksmith, and Caroline.

Before entering the ministry, Herbert worked as a school teacher (1911).

He married Gladys Estelle Harrison (1893-1969) in late 1926 in the Dartford Registration District, Kent. Gladys was the daughter of Thomas Harrison, PM minister.

Herbert died on 5 July 1965 in Edinburgh, Scotland.


  • Hartley
  • 1914 Newton & Hyde
  • 1916 Chaplain H.M. Forces
  • 1919 Manchester VI
  • 1931 Manchester WPC
  • 1932 H.M. Comm
  • 1939 per Toc H
  • 1960 Northampton (S)


Methodist Minutes 1966/186

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

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

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