Matthews, James Leonard (1905-1979)

Transcription of obituary published in the Minutes of Conference

JAMES LEONARD MATTHEWS: bom in Birkenhead, the son of an analytical chemist, on the 17th February 1905. He was educated at the Park High School in Birkenhead and on leaving school was engaged in clerical and book-keeping work. He entered the ministry and was trained at Hartley College. During his college training he heard a call to the Mission Field and on leaving college in 1932 was sent to Broken Hill in Northern Rhodesia. 

Here on the 18th August 1934 he married his wife, Clare, who was a source of great help and strength to him until her death in 1978. Following. service at Broken Hill he served at Kanchindu and then became Principal of the Kafue Training Institute. During this period he showed an immense capacity for hard work in the field of Christian Education which he found very dear to his heart. 

In 1952 he returned home and served first as a second minister and then as Superintendent of the Ramsey (Waterloo Road) and Ramsey Circuits in the Isle of Man. In 1957 he was called to return to Northern, Rhodesia as District Education Secretary living first at Chipembi and then at Lusaka. Towards the end of his tour he was appointed Chairman of the District. He served Northern Rhodesia in the period which preceded the declaration of political independence and helped to transfer the responsibility of Church government from white to black shoulders. 

Returning to home work once again he was appointed to the London Mission (Bayswater) Circuit where in addition to his circuit responsibilities he was chaplain at Wormwood Scrubs prison. In 1979 he retired to live in the Castletown Circuit in the Isle of Man in the village of Cregneish. He continued to serve the Church in his retirement and until a few days before his death in Nobles Hospital in Douglas was preaching in the Circuit. 

He died on the 21st April 1979 in the seventy-fifth year of his age and the forty-eight year of his ministry.


Leonard was born on 17 February 1905 at Birkenhead, Cheshire, to parents William Frederick Matthews, an analysts assistant (1911), and Jane Karran.

He married Clara Ashley (1907-1978) on 18 August 1934 in N Rhodesia. They had two sons.

  • Ian K (b abt1944)
  • James K (b abt1945) 

Leonard died on 21 April 1979 at Douglas, Isle of Man.


  • Hartley
  • 1931 Supply
  • 1932 N Rhodesia District
  • 1852 Ramsey Waterloo
  • 1855 Ramsey
  • 1857 N Rhodesia
  • 1965 London M Bays
  • 1979 Castletown (S)


Methodist Minutes 1979/79

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

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

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