Phillipson, John (1847-1917)

Primitive Methodist Magazine 1907
Primitive Methodist Magazine 1924

Early years

John was born on 16 February 1847 at Stanhope in Weardale, Co Durham to parents Featherstone and Jane. At the time of the 1851 census, Featherstone was a lead miner.

John spent five years of his boyhood in Canada. His father taught in a Government school on the shores of Lake Erie. On returning to Weardale the family joined the church at Wearhead.

John was converted aged nineteen during a dale revival. He attended the Sunderland Institute before entering circuit ministry.


John’s obituary records that he had great and rare gifts of mind and heart, and ever kept himself abreast of religious thought. For many years he was a member of the Probationers’ Examining Committee, and many of the local preachers on the Helmshore Station remembered with gratitude the theological and homiletical class where they received their mental and spiritual equipment.

He excelled as a preacher – a man of real culture, possessing and easy and graceful flow of speech; but the determining characteristic of his preaching was an intense spirituality of mind and soul.


John married Sarah Helen Jepson (1851-1924) in the summer of 1874 at Runcorn, Cheshire. Census returns identify eight of nine children.

  • Featherston (1875-1944) – a schoolmaster
  • Sarah Edith Jane (1877-1917) – married John J Richardson
  • James Emerson (1879-1936) – a PM Minister
  • Mary Helen (1881-1966)
  • John Ernest (1886-1948) – a bank clerk
  • Harold Samuel (1888-1970) – a gardener
  • Thomas Dryden (1890-1952) – a PM Minister
  • Sydney (1892-1966)

John died on 9 June 1917 at Haslingden, Lancashire. A memorial window was commissioned in his memory.


  • Sunderland
  • 1870 Chester
  • 1872 Manchester IV
  • 1874 Preston Brook
  • 1876 Liverpool III
  • 1878 Knowlwood
  • 1883 Selby
  • 1887 Hetton
  • 1891 Houghton le Spring
  • 1894 Leamington on Tyne
  • 1896 Buckley
  • 1901 Helmshore
  • 1913 Hull (Sup)


Primitive Methodist Magazine 1907/675; 1917/363; 1924/804 (wife)

PM Minutes 1918/272

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

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers


Comments about this page

  • An article John wrote for his children, about some of his experiences in ‘winter storms’, in 1867, 1870, 1874 and 1896, can be found here.

    By Jill Barber (25/06/2014)

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