Pinchin, Sophia (nee Willis) (1807-1885)

Transcription of obituary published in the Primitive Methodist Magazine by George Burbidge

SOPHIA PINCHIN, whose maiden name was Willis, was born at Sheerness-on-Sea, on August 2, 1807. Before her conversion she attended the Garrison Church, her father being clerk there. At a very early age she was interested in good things. Her father used frequently to call her his heavenly-minded Sophia. At the day school which she attended she used to read the prayers, at the opening of the school, by the request of the governess. She was convinced of sin whilst listening to a Bible Christian, who was preaching in the open air. She was converted in the fifteenth year of her age. 

After her conversion she lost the evidence of her acceptance with God for a time; but it was again restored to her. Having joined the Bible Christian denomination, she became very useful at the prayer meetings. In the year 1830, she became a member of the Primitive Methodist Connexion, at her native place. At that place she became a Primitive Methodist local preacher. In the year 1839 she became a total abstainer from intoxicating drinks. She became so promising, that some of the ministers tried to induce her to become a travelling preacher. Her father, when he was dying, said to her, ‘Sophia, the Lord has work for you to do in His vineyard.’

She had great struggles of mind before she gave herself fully to the work of the ministry. For eight years she struggled against the conviction that she was called to preach the Gospel. To the question, ‘Do you not think you are called to preach?’ put to her by the minister who was travelling there at that time, her answer was, ‘I cannot. It is too great a work.’ But eventually, according to her own testimony, she felt she dared not say no. So in the year 1840 she became a travelling preacher in the Primitive Methodist Connexion. She travelled at Sheerness, Canterbury, Oxford, Witney (Branch), Wallingford, (Home Mission part), Market Layington, and Andover.

She was able to make a profession of the enjoyment of the blessing of entire sanctification. In her diary for June 26, 1841, she wrote: ‘Glory be to God for His great goodness to me, an unfaithful creature, for He has again baptized my soul with the Holy Ghost, and with fire. He has sanctified me—Glory! Glory! I feel His power; and shout to prove the Saviour mine. Not a partial Saviour, but a perfect Saviour. He has saved me fully. May God help me to keep the blessing I have received. Lord, help me to confess before men what Thou hast done for my soul.’ She became a member of a Temperance Society whilst she travelled at Oxford. 

She was wonderfully blessed in her labours. In her diary for June 5, 1842, she states that she preached with others at a camp-meeting at Dunstew, (in the Witney Branch of Wallingford Circuit). About 2,000 attended the lovefeast, and much good was done. As a general thing she preached twice, if not three times, on Sunday, and on every work-night except Saturday. She often walked miles to her appointments, and endured great fatigue. She was welcomed at some places, and persecuted at others.

In the Oxford Circuit, whilst standing on a chair preaching, she was knocked down by a great man, a blacksmith, who jumped on her from off a wall. Though she was stunned for a time, she afterwards finished the service. This same man was afterwards convinced and converted under her preaching, and became one of her staunch supporters. At another time, whilst she was preaching, a man who was standing near smoking, blew smoke in her mouth. At Haddenham, in the Wallingford Circuit, at an open-air service, the clergyman’s brother pelted her with eggs; but not one touched her. Some of the wicked people interfered, and threatened him if he threw any more. Saint and sinner united to protect her, and invited her to come again. Opposition only made her bolder for her Master. In numerous: instances she was successful in winning souls. Her career as a travelling preacher ended in the year 1846, in an honourable manner. 

In the year 1846 she became the wife of Mr. Francis Pinchin, a Primitive Methodist local preacher. After her marriage she still worked for her Master, as she had time and opportunity, sometimes going miles to do so. She frequently preached anniversary sermons. Sometimes she was away from her home a fortnight at a time, at religious services. She was also earnest in endeavouring to promote the Temperance cause, by addressing meetings, and also by talking to individuals, trying to persuade them to sign the pledge, &c. She strongly opposed the use of tobacco. And when, on account of her age and bodily infirmities, she was no longer able to preach, she visited the sick. Only about a week before she died, having heard that a young man was ill, she went to see him, though she was scarcely able to get to his residence. She talked to him, and prayed with him. He died shortly afterwards. Although there was no Primitive Methodist Chapel in the neighbourhood of her residence for many years previous to her death, she and her much respected husband retained their membership, and remained local preachers in the Primitive Methodist Connexion. 

She was a Primitive Methodist local preacher in the Calne station, and a member of a Temperance Society when she died. But on account of the distance of her residence from a Primitive Methodist Chapel, she sometimes attended the Congregational Chapel, and sometimes a Wesleyan place of worship. She was often found in quiet perusing the word of God. A day or two before her death, whilst her husband was reading the Scripture, she seemed to be following some train of thought. After thinking for some time she exclaimed, ‘Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?’ Her last illness lasted only about twenty-four hours. At first she suffered great pain, but she soon was in a state of exhaustion. She died on May 15, 1885, at her residence at Market Lavington, Wilts. She was buried in the cemetery at Market Lavington, on May 21, 1885. The Rev. J. Bennet and the Rev. F. Lowe (Congregationalists) officiated at her funeral. Her funeral sermon was preached at the Congregational Chapel, by the Rev. F. Lowe, from Revelation xiv. 13. The service was very affecting.


Sophia was born on 2 August 1807 at Sheerness on Sea, Kent. Her father was a clerk in the Garrison.

She married Francis Pinchin (1814-1902)  in the summer of 1846 at Market Lavington, Wiltshire. Francis was a builder and PM local preacher.

Sophia died on 15 May 1884 at Market Lavington, Wiltshire.


  • 1841 Wallingford
  • 1842 Witney
  • 1843 Wallingford
  • 1844 Market Lavington
  • 1845 Andover
  • 1847 disappears


Primitive Methodist Magazine 1886/489

E. Dorothy Graham, Chosen by God – A list if the Female Travelling Preachers of Early Primitive Methodism

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

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

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