Nobbs, William Ellice (1824-1887)

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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