Odell, Joseph (1846-1923)

Primitive Methodist Magazine 1901
Primitive Methodist Magazine 1923

Early years

Joseph was born in 1846 at Dunstable, Bedfordshire to parents William Odell and Marie Facer. The family worked in the hat trade.


Joseph was zealous evangelist throughout his ministry. After appointments in London, he went to Gravesend which consisted of only the Church in the town and two cottage services outside.  He soon had two colleagues, and he left the station after five years with a further two suburban causes in rented chapels, the important town of Dartford missioned and a church erected, Northfleet missioned and a church erected, and membership more than doubled. He had also missioned Romford, an Essex town some fourteen miles distant.

Joseph was very proactive in the Temperance Movement working through the courts to prevent the granting or renewal of licences. In Brooklyn, four drinking saloons near his church were closed down and he was well known in Birmingham for attending licensing sessions.

Joseph was President of Conference in 1900.

Joseph was a great personality. His ministry was one of great power and rich in spiritual fruitage. He was not only a great evangelist, but he sought to make evangelists. The Evangelists Home was established in faith, and Joseph raised the means for its support.


Joseph married Henrietta Maria Baker (1843-1917) in the spring of 1870 at Dunstable, Bedfordshire. Census returns identify seven children.

  • Joseph Henry (1871-1929) – a PM Minister; emigrated to USA in 1892
  • James Garner (1873-1912) – a manufacturer; died in Gold Coast, Africa
  • Owen Davies (1876- 1938) – emigrated to USA; a Presbyterian clergyman
  • Oswald Facer (1878-1937) – a chartered accountant, awarded OBE
  • William Ward (1881-1917) – district manager, International Correspondence Schools Ltd (1911); died in Belgium in WW1
  • Millicent G (b abt1882)
  • Edwin Freame (1883-1960) – secretary at rolling mill (1911)

Joseph married Bertha Arrowsmith (1861-1927) in early 1918 at Wigton, Cumberland. Bertha was a widow.

Joseph died on 15 May 1923 at South Yardley, Birmingham.


  • 1866 Abergavenny
  • 1867 Hammersmith
  • 1869 London I
  • 1871 London IV
  • 1872 Gravesend
  • 1876 Brooklyn, USA
  • 1880 Leicester II
  • 1885 Birmingham
  • 1890 Special Evangelist
  • 1891 Birmingham IV
  • 1905 Redhill
  • 1912 Redhill (SUP)


Primitive Methodist Magazine 1901/852; 1923/656

PM Minutes 1923/273

J Petty, The History of the Primitive Methodist Connexion, 1880, p618

H B Kendall, Origin and History of the PM Church, vol 2,483

B A Barber, A Methodist Pageant, 1932, p168

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

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

Clemens Chandler family Tree on Ancestry.com

Comments about this page

  • By Maria Borrill (15/12/2017)
  • I am the great granddaughter of Joseph Odell, the grand daughter of his oldest son, Joseph Henry Odell. J.H. Odell became a U.S. citizen in 1905 and was a Presbyterian minister and well-known writer in the States. He died in 1929. His wife, my grandmother, was Sarah Winifred Kendall, the daughter of H. Bickerstaffe Kendall, who wrote the history of the Primitive Methodist Church and served several positions in the church. Joseph H. and Winifred were married at the “New Camden Chapel, Pancras, in 1894. I am trying to find out exactly which chapel that is today.  

    By Judith G duPont (17/06/2017)
  • Further to my previous comment: in the latest Ranters’ Digest (Autumn 2014), D. Colin Dews writes in his article about The Rev. John Stamp, that the Rev Joseph Odell was active in the Holiness Movement. It was while I was searching the internet for information about this Movement, that I came across the pages about Joseph’s cricketing sons. How easy it is to be diverted from one’s course!

    By Jane Richardson (09/11/2014)
  • Two of Joseph’s sons, William and Edward, were English First Class Cricketers. There are Wikipedia pages for both of them.

    By Jane Richardson (08/11/2014)
  • See also my … “Joseph Odell and the Evangelists’ Home” the 11th Chapel Aid Lecture: 2001 Englesea Brook, in which I explore Odell’s major work trying to develop a missionary movement in Primitive Methodism similar to Thomas Champness’s Joyful News Training Home and Mission – later Cliff College – in Wesleyan Methodism.

    By Colin Short (13/02/2014)

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