McPhail, Peter (1860-1935)

Primitive Methodist Magazine 1917
Primitive Methodist Magazine 1917

Early years

Peter was born on 5 April 1860 at North Shields, Northumberland to parents Archibald and Mary. Archibald was a ship’s carpenter.

Peter began to preach as a boy. The 1881 census describes him as a commercial clerk and Methodist local preacher.


Peter spent fourteen years on Probationers’ Examining Committee to 1918; at which time he was Secretary. he spent four years on Candidates Examining Committee and ten years on Local Preachers’ Training Council. In 1905 became an examiner at Hartley College.

In 1899 he commenced a Christian Endeavour Reading Union, aiming to make Christian Endeavourism educative.

His obituary records that Peter was deeply read in the philosophy of religion and kept abreast of modern religious thought to the end of his life. His was a teaching ministry marked by authority and passion, and always emphasising the gospel of redeeming grace. He was deeply reverent, broad-minded, and in him was no guile.


Peter married Jane Cort (1866-1939) in the summer of 1888 at Blackburn, Lancashire. Census returns identify four of six children.  Two sons died in infancy.

  • Peter (1896-1982) – a Presbyterian Minister (1939)
  • Angus Gilmore (1898-1969) – a press advertising representative (1939)
  • Joseph Cort (1900-1980) – a school teacher (1956)
  • Elsie Drew (1905-1989) – married James P Ellis in 1936

Peter died on 15 July 1935 at Salford, Lancashire in a nursing home.


  • Hartley
  • 1885 Blackburn II
  • 1887 Keighley II
  • 1890 Crook
  • 1892 Waterhouse
  • 1895 Haltwhistle
  • 1901 Lancaster
  • 1904 Leeds VII
  • 1907 Manchester VIII
  • 1912 Blyth
  • 1918 Barnard Castle
  • 1924 Bacup
  • 1927 Lancaster (S)


Primitive Methodist Magazine 1917/782

Methodist Minutes 1935/216

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

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

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