Lee, Matthew (1805-1866)

Primitive Methodist Magazine 1855
Copy provided by Steven Carter

Matthew was born in 1805 at Hexham, Northumberland to parents Matthew Lee and Jane Hedley. He was baptised on 3 November 1805 at Hexham.


Matthew was converted at the age of 17 through the open-air preaching of Mr Summers. Despite opposition from his parents, he joined with the Primitives and soon began to preach. He started to travel in 1827 being sent to Cumberland. Following his marriage, domestic reasons required him to leave the itineracy and he opened a business at Corbridge. However, after much time spent in prayer, he decided to continue to be an itinerant. He was sent by the 1831 conference to Burnley, where over a three year period he was able to strengthen the society.

Matthew’s obituary records that he was well read. Whilst he appears to have not been a brilliant preacher, his sermons were ‘richly fraught with plain Gospel truth’. His prayer in the context of worship was also well received. The writer of his obituary says ‘he sometimes erred in matters of judgement and occasionally displayed a hastiness of temper’.

Matthew was a conscientious teetotaller.


He married Mary Walton (b1808) on 9 December 1830 at St Peter, Leeds. Census returns identify five children.

  • Robert (1831-1875) – a printer
  • Edmund (b1832)
  • Jane Elizabeth (b1834)
  • Matthew (b1835)
  • Mary (b1840)

After Matthew’s death, Mary became a matron housekeeper at a hospital at North Meols, Southport.

Matthew died on 30 September 1866 at Southport, Lancashire.


  • 1828 Ripon
  • 1830 Whitby
  • 1831 Burnley
  • 1834 Oldham
  • 1835 Isle of Man
  • 1837 Preston Brook
  • 1838 Warrington
  • 1840 Keighley
  • 1842 Stalybridge
  • 1844 Stockport
  • 1846 Knowlwood
  • 1847 Douglas
  • 1849 Preston
  • 1851 Haslingden
  • 1853 Warrington
  • 1855 Northwich
  • 1857 New Mills
  • 1859 Ramsey
  • 1861 Chorley
  • 1865 Northwich


Primitive Methodist Magazine 1855/257 (portrait); 1867/226

PM Minutes 1867/7

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

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers


Comments about this page

  • A biography of Matthew and Mary Lee, ‘Behind the Stars’ by W M Patterson was published in the Primitive Methodist Leader ( 1911), and reprinted for one of their descendants, S Wesley Lee, by Samuel Lee & Co Pty Lyd, Stanhope, Queensland, Australia (1974). There is a copy in the Library at Englesea Brook Chapel & Museum. This gives a fascinating account of their experiences in the different circuits where they were stationed, and the very hard life of a Primitive Methodist minister and his family. Mary Lee was an outstanding preacher in her own right.

    By Jill Barber (19/06/2019)

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