Norcross, William (1885-1970)

Primitive Methodist Magazine 1918
Primitive Methodist Magazine 1918

Transcription of obituary published in the Minutes of Conference

WILLIAM NORCROSS: born in Preston in 1885. After training at Hartley College he travelled in the following circuits: Calabar, West Africa, Blackburn II, Risca, East Nigeria District, Watford, Newcastle, Staffs. (Ebenezer). 

He was a pioneer missionary going straight to Calabar from college. In his first years abroad he worked in the Efik Area of East Nigeria and gained a perfect command of the difficult language. After ten years abroad he came back to the home work for three years but was then asked to return to East Nigeria where he stayed for twelve years. He pioneered work in the Idoma country mastering the language, reducing it to writing and translating into it the Gospel of Mark. He also wrote a primer for the schools and a collection of hymns making up the Idoma Hymn Book. The Norcross Memorial Church at Oturkpo is a symbol of the love in which he was held by the people. 

Returning home finally in 1936, he served for nine years in the Watford Circuit, and then became Superintendent of the Newcastle, Staffs. (Ebenezer) Circuit. He was an active supernumerary at Warlingham, and at Hemel Hempstead before he moved to Hall Grange, the Methodist Home for the Aged at Shirley, Croydon. 

Throughout his life he exercised a remarkable pastoral ministry. He was little in stature, but great in spirit. He showed courage, humility and patience in many different situations and gave wise counsel to many at home and overseas. His quiet serenity and gentle gaiety sprang from his faith in the God he served so well, with the result that he was loved and respected by old and young alike. He found great joy in his home and family. 

He died at Hal! Grange on 8 October 1970, in the eighty-sixth year of his age and the fifty-ninth of his ministry.


William was born on 15 May 1885 at Preston, Lancashire, to parents John Norcross, a cotton boomer (1891), and Elizabeth Eglin. He was baptised on 10 June 1885 at St Thomas, Preston.

The 1901 census return records William as a general labourer.

He married Hannah Durham (1887-1980) in early 1913 at Preston, Lancashire. Birth Records identify two children.

  • Barbara Wilma (1917-2001) – assistant secretary at BBC (1939); married Frederick James Lawton in 1940
  • Graeme P D (b1929)

William died on 8 October 1970 at Croydon, Surrey.


  • Hartley
  • 1911 Calabar, WA
  • 1921 Blackburn II
  • 1923 Risca
  • 1924 E Nigeria
  • 1935 Watford
  • 1945 Newcastle under Lyme
  • 1953 Warrington (S)


Primitive Methodist Magazine 1918/270

Methodist Minutes 1971/166

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

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers


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