Nobbs, William Ellice (1824-1887)

Primitive Methodist Magazine 1881
Primitive Methodist Magazine 1881

Early years

William was born in 1824 at Woodton, Norfolk. His mother attended the established church. His father was not religiously inclined but was a man of great moral force of character.

At the age of 17, William moved to Loddon where he became an apprentice to a miller. It was there he started to attend PM services. He was asked to preach, but at first refused. Eventually, after making it a matter of prayer, he accepted the call. William spent 8 years as a local preacher, often travelling up to 20 miles on a Sunday to take appointments.

His obituary records that he had a passion for poetry.


He was an earnest, eloquent preacher and possessed a very attractive style; he was indeed a teacher, for treating his text in an exhaustive way, he brought the most abstruse thought very near; clearness he particularly aimed at.

His extreme conscientiousness was carried into every detail of his work; during the whole of his ministerial life he never wilfully neglected an appointment.


William married Emily Whitehead (1833-1902) in the summer of 1857 at Hartismere, Suffolk. Census returns identify four children.

  • Emmalene Whitehead (b1858) – married James Simpson Greenwood, a land surveyor
  • Anna Whitehead (1860-1936) – a schoolteacher and later boarding house keeper
  • Edith Susanna Whitehead (1867-1954) – married Walter Adams, a grocer, draper and general dealer
  • Arthur Walter Whitehead (1870-1947) – a grocer and draper

William died on 17 February 1887 at North Walsham, Norfolk.


  • 1852 Bury St Edmunds
  • 1855 Cambridge
  • 1858 Rockland
  • 1859 Diss
  • 1862 Ramsgate
  • 1863 Ramsey
  • 1865 Bromyard
  • 1866 Maidstone
  • 1868 Hastings
  • 1869 Ramsey
  • 1871 Guildford
  • 1873 Ipswich
  • 1877 Fakenham
  • 1879 Wangford
  • 1880 Hadleigh
  • 1882 Kelsale
  • 1883 Briston
  • 1886 N Walsham


Primitive Methodist Magazine 1881 (portrait); 1887/307

PM Minutes 1887/9

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

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

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