Oliver, Benjamin (1890-1970)

Transcription of obituary published in the Minutes of Conference

BENJAMIN OLIVER: born on 10 November 1890, at Laxey, Isle of Man. Prior to acceptance for the Primitive Methodist ministry he served as a lay evangelist in the Devon Mission (Dartmouth), in the Whitechapel Mission (London), and in the Isle of Man. After training at Hartley College, from 1917 he travelled in the following circuits: Bridlington, Chesterfield I, Southport II, Bridlington, Filey, Barnoldswick, Liverpool (North), Peel (Christian St), Southport (Banks, etc.), Oldham (Henshaw St), Burnley (Brunswick).  On retirement in 1957 he returned to his native Isle of Man.

A tall man of commanding presence, with which was matched a colourful and dynamic personality, Methodism never had a more devoted circuit minister. Manxman and Celt, his innate fervency of spirit numbered him with that generation of ministers who were often unique, unconventional and independent, sometimes bold and daring to an extreme, yet having a rare humility and a rich capacity for fellowship. Kind, generous of heart, concerned to commend his Lord, his joy and power was to proclaim a Gospel alike of personal salvation and social righteousness. In needful controversy he could be a formidable opponent, but always with charity. 

Preaching was his life, and a fervent and robust evangelism marked the whole of his ministry. A powerful voice, effective dramatic and oratorical gifts, along with a native wit and humour, equipped him to excel in open-air witness, and especially in the old-time Primitive Methodist Camp Meeting type of mission. He was ever alert to opportunities for special ministries, as among fishermen at Filey, with internee groups on the Isle of Man in the 1940s, and among market stall-holders in Oldham. Keen social zeal spurred him to battle valiantly against evils such as gambling and intemperance. 

Soon after retirement he faced with fortitude the frustrations of encroaching physical disability, but with some measure of recovery his fighting spirit brought him into leadership against gambling interests in the Isle of Man, and he was also able to resume preaching. He preached within a few weeks of his death on 9 July 1970, in the eightieth year of his age and the fifty-third of his ministry.


Benjamin was born on 10 November 1890 at Lonan, Isle of Man, to parents John Oliver, a lead miner (1891), and Elizabeth Corkill.

Before entering the ministry Benjamin worked as a draper (1911).

He married Freda Elizabeth Mcfee (1890-1975) in 1921 at Colby PM Chapel, Isle of Man. Birth records identify one child.

  • Benita Elfrieda (1932-2010) – married Robert Cannell Kinvig in 1968

Benjamin died on 9 July 1970 on the Isle of Man.


  • Hartley
  • 1917 Bridlington
  • 1919 Chesterfield I
  • 1921 Southport II
  • 1924 Bridlington
  • 1929 Filey
  • 1932 Barnoldswick
  • 1935 Liverpool N
  • 1939 Peel, Christ St
  • 1944 Southport Banks
  • 1948 Oldham, Henshaw St
  • 1953 Burnley Brunswick
  • 1957 Isle of Man (S)


Methodist Minutes 1971/159

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

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

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