Parr, Thomas (1816-1866)

Early Years

Thomas was born on 2 November 1816 at Tunstall, in the parish of Wolstanton, Staffs, the son of Thomas and Mary Parr. His father was a potter, and his mother was the daughter of Thomas and Sarah Reeves. Thomas was baptised at the Wesleyan Methodist Chapel in Tunstall on 1 December 1816.

As a child he went to the Primitive Methodist Sunday School, and went on to be a teacher.

In Tunstall he heard some of the early, powerful preachers including Hugh Bourne and William Clowes, and was converted at a class meeting in March 1833, when he was 16. He soon became a local preacher, walking as much as 9 to 15 miles to preach on a Sunday, as the Tunstall circuit was then very large.


On 8 April 1837 he was called out to go as a travelling preacher to the Macclesfield and Congleton Circuit.

In 1840, although stationed by Conference in the Prees circuit, Thomas was actually in Northern Ireland, as a minister at the Belfast Mission.  The evidence for this was found in a letter sent by Thomas to his mother in Tunstall, on the back of a Belfast Mission Plan, dated 6 April 1840.

He thought he would stay for another year, but a year later he was in the Wrockwardine Wood Circuit.  Extracts from his Journal were published in the Primitive Methodist Magazine for 1842.  Here are two of the entries:

Friday, April 23rd 1841: ‘I visited a few families, some of whom were sick. Preached at Trench; the house would hardly contain the congregation. A holy influence attended the Word, and in the prayer meeting two men were converted to God.’

Sunday, May 9th 1841: ‘Took part in the services at a camp meeting, held on the celebrated mountain called the Wrekin. It was supposed that 10,000 persons were present. At night a lovefeast was held in our chapel at Wellington. A struggle with the powers of darkness, but faith rose, and we conquered; and during the day about 14 souls professed to find pardon. Thank the Lord!’

Thomas travelled extensively, but while he was at Birkenhead in 1864 his health broke down. He suffered from an attack of bronchitis from which he never recovered.  Although he was stationed by Conference to go to New Mills in 1865 he never went, being too ill to go.

In his obituary, Thomas’ preaching was described as ‘tolerably good’, and ‘would have been better’ if pruned of ‘some of those odd and singular remarks, which sometimes fell from his lips.’  Nevertheless,  during his ministry he made nearly 1,000 members.


Thomas first married Mary Turner (1819-45), the daughter of Arthur Turner, a mason of Newtown, in the parish church at Welshpool, where he was then living, on 14 December 1843.  Mary died on 18 February 1845, aged 25. They had one child.

  • Mary Ann (b1844)

Thomas Parr then married Matilda Bayley (1822-1902) of Wheaton Aston, on 16 January 1846 at Lapley Parish Church, Staffordshire. They had 12 children, of whom six survived.

  • Sarah Matilda (b1847) – a governess (1871)
  • Theophilus (1849-1921) – a PM Minister
  • Thomas Phillip (1850-1927) – a corn merchant’s warehouseman (1881)
  • Frederick Bayley (1853-1900) – a stonemason and PM local preacher
  • James Tolefree (1855-1930) – a PM Minister
  • Agnes Emma (1859-1947) – married Abraham James Weate, a farmer, in 1883

In 1865 Thomas’ chronic bronchitis turned to consumption, probably tuberculosis. He and Matilda moved to London so that he could receive hospital treatment as an outpatient, but it was of no use.  Thomas and Matilda moved to Wheaton Aston, Staffordshire, where her  family lived, and he died on 25 January 1866, at the age of 49.

See more about the Family History.


1838 Darlaston
1839 Prees
1840 Wrockwardine Wood
1841 Prees
1842 Newtown and Welshpool
1844 Wrockwardine Wood
1845 Stafford
1846 Presteign
1848 Bishop’s Castle
1850 Whitchurch
1852 Ludlow
1854 Oswestry
1856 Newcastle-under-Lyme
1858 Lichfield
1861 Cardiff
1862 Bradwell
1864 Birkenhead
1865 New Mills


Primitive Methodist Magazine 1842, p111; 1863 (portrait); 1866, p357; 1904/70 (wife)

PM Minutes 1866, p10

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

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers



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