Morton, Joseph Clifford (1904-1990)

Transcription of obituary published in the Minutes of Conference

JOSEPH CLIFFORD MORTON: born in St Helens, Lancashire, on 13th March 1904. His family moved to Porth in South Wales when he was a child and, on leaving school, he was apprenticed to the bus company there as a motor mechanic. He offered for the ministry in 1928, following in the footsteps of his grandfather, Rev Joseph Morton, and trained at Hartley College. He served in Wishaw, Bolton, Rochdale and Morecambe before offering as a Royal Air Force Chaplain in 1941, being stationed for a time in West Africa and with a Bomber Command Pathfinder Squadron at Upwood. On demobilisation in 1946 he continued his ministry in Worksop and Sheffield (Brunswick) before becoming minister of the old College Chapel, now St Paul’s, Didsbury, where his considerable gifts as a preacher and his love of liturgy were exercised to the full. His final circuit was Tarporley, where he spent six years as Superintendent and another twelve as an active supernumerary. 

In 1934 he married Dorothy Holbrook, a member of his home church, and she was always a strong support and inspiration to him. They had two sons, Michael and Lynn. However, during his time at Kelsall, Dorothy became seriously ill and was increasingly dependent on him, so much so that he was forced to retire early in order to care for her. They moved to a cottage within the circuit and he was able to retain the pastoral care of four village chapels. Following Dorothy’s death in 1969 he continued to serve the circuit in this way. 

He was married again in 1971 to Gweneth Withington of Frodsham, maintaining his pastoral and preaching work with her full support for a further seven years. In 1984 he and Gweneth moved to MHA, Callin Court, Chester, and shortly after this he was advised by his doctor to give up preaching. He retained his links with his old circuit to the end, friends often offering to transport him to special services and events there. He died following a short illness in Chester City Hospital on Friday 25th May 1990 in the eighty-seventh year of his age and the sixtieth year of his ministry.


Clifford was born on 13 March 1904 at St. Helens, Lancashire, to parents Arthur Ernest, a coal miner (1911), and Mary.

He married Dorothy Beatrice Holbrook (1902-1969) in the summer of 1934 in the Pontypridd Registration District, Glamorgan. Birth records identify two children.

  • Joseph Michael (b1936)
  • David Lynn (b abt1941)

He married Gweneth Withington, nee Hughes, (1907-1999) in early 1971 in the Chester Registration District, Cheshire.

Clifford died on 25 May 1990 at Chester City Hospital, Chester, Cheshire.


  • Hartley
  • 1930 Wishaw
  • 1932 Bolton II
  • 1933 Bolton Moor Lane
  • 1934 Rochdale S St
  • 1935 Rochdale N
  • 1939 Morecambe &c
  • 1942 Chaplain H.M. Forces
  • 1946 Worksop
  • 1949 Sheffield Brun
  • 1954 Stockport Tiviot Dale
  • 1959 Tarporley
  • 1965 Frodsham (S)


Methodist Minutes 1990/36

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

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

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