Redhead, John (1852-1926)

Primitive Methodist Magazine 1911
Primitive Methodist Magazine 1911
Rev John Redhead and his family on the steps of Ashbourne Chapel, c1893 (see comment below)
David Redhead

Early years

John was born on 26 November 1852 at Easington Lane, Co Durham.

John was converted aged fourteen through the ministry of Rev Henry Pratt.

John’s early education was conducted in the British Schools and at the age of ten he followed his own father and foster-father to work in the coal mine.

[Editor’s note: see the pages of John Redhead’s ‘Life Story’, which have been added to this page, for more detail, and further information from his grandson in the comments below.]


At Cheadle, a new chapel and a consolidated circuit marked John’s term. At Ashbourne a derelict cause was resuscitated and a new chapel built. At Gainsborough, the Trinity Street debt was reduced by £1,000. In the middle period of his ministry, John was a powerful advocate of scriptural holiness and a very effective open-air speaker.

Whilst at Tredegar, John formulated the policy that led to the formation of the Blackwood circuit and employment of an additional minister.

The time of WW1 found John in Sheffield. Though giving devoted service two or three times a week to Middlewood Military Hospital, John organised reduction in Chapel debts and developed Hillsborough Church.

In retirement at Lincoln, John became secretary of the Ministers’ Fraternal and also served as Nonconformist Tutor to the Diocesan Training College.

His obituary records that John’s ministry was one of unsparing labour and intensely evangelical.


John married Mary Ann Farrow (1854-1937) in July 1879 at Guisborough, Yorkshire. Census returns identify six of eight children.

  • Bartholomew William John (1880-1946) – a PM Minister
  • Daniel Albert (1882-1934) – a schoolmaster (1911)
  • Joseph Farrow (1884-1961) – a sorting clerk and telegraphist (1911)
  • Margaret Jane (1886-1975) – married John Portas in 1924
  • John Fletcher (1889-1915) – killed in action at Gallipoli, WW1
  • Thomas James (1893-1950) – an ironmonger’s apprentice (1911)

John died on 19 January 1926 at Lincoln, Lincolnshire.


  • Sunderland
  • 1875 Margate
  • 1876 Dover
  • 1878 Deal
  • 1879 Sheerness
  • 1882 Richmond
  • 1884 Ryde & Ventnor
  • 1887 Clayton West
  • 1890 Cheadle
  • 1893 Ashbourne
  • 1898 Gainsborough
  • 1901 Market Rasen
  • 1905 Doncaster
  • 1908 Newbridge
  • 1911 Tredegar
  • 1914 Sheffield VII
  • 1918 Tipton
  • 1921 Lincoln (Sup)


Primitive Methodist Magazine 1911/379; 1926/512

PM Minutes 1926/280

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

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers


A transcription of the 'Autobiography' written by John Redhead
A timeline of John's life prepared by David Redhead.

Comments about this page

  • The deeds to our house say it was originally sold by trustees ( one in Cheadle) and was built on the site of a former methodist chapel. The steps and gate posts look similar to the picture. Please get in touch if you would like to see the deeds / more information.

    By Jenny (07/03/2021)
  • Whilst the marriage of John Redhead & Mary Ann Farrow was registered in the Guisborough Registration District they were actually married in the Primitive Methodist Chapel at Saltburn by the Sea on 15th July 1879.

    The two “missing” children both died in infancy:
    John Farrow Redhead (1883-1884) who passed away a month before his second birthday.
    Mary Ann Farrow Redhead who was born and died on 12th July 1891. The only record we have been able to find of her are family notes the Rev John made about 1910 in a personal notebook.

    By David Redhead (26/04/2019)
  • The moving pages from John Redhead’s ‘Life Story’, written about 1910, which recall his early life, and the photo of John and his children on the steps of Ashbourne Chapel, were sent to us by his great grandson David Redhead. He says:

    ‘I don’t think there was ever an official fostering of him to his Aunt (mother’s sister) & Uncle. What he does not say is that his mother died of cholera and he left at home 3 sisters. One of his sisters got married not long after his Father became incapacitated but the other two appeared to draw the short straw. They both got married very quickly after their Father died and then emigrated to New Zealand. I have a copy of a letter the eldest wrote home the same year as the Rev John wrote his life story. Comparing her spelling and grammar to his immaculate style is painful. I think the Rev John’s move to live with his Aunt & Uncle may have been the making of him.

    I do not have a definite date for the attached picture of a Primitive Methodist Chapel in or near Ashbourne. Examining the original with a hand lens I can make out the stonework above the door says “Primitive Methodist Chapel, Ebenezer” and the tattered poster on the fence says “Primitive Methodist Chapel, Ashbourne, Services Rev J Redhead”. Most of this was discernible with a 10X lens but I needed to purchase a 30X lens to make out the “Ashbourne” which is in smaller type. That is definitely the Rev John standing at the top of the steps. The four boys are almost certainly four of his sons, at the top Daniel Albert (b 12/01/1882) & Joseph Farrow (b 30/09/1884, my grandfather), lower down Bartholomew William John (b 18/07/1880) & John Fletcher (b 18/03/1889). The apparent absence of Thomas James (b 23/01/1893) may help in dating the picture. I have named the boys on size rather than appearance owing to the nature of the photo. The girl with the glorious hat sitting beneath the Rev John is presumably his daughter Margaret Jane (b 25/04/1886). Looking at the size of the children I would say this photo could have been taken in 1893/1894 i.e. not long after the family arrived in Ashbourne. Thomas is probably absent because he was not yet mobile under his own steam.’

    By Jill Barber (01/02/2018)

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