Rayner, John Buxton (1837-1886)

Transcription of obituary published in the Primitive Methodist Magazine by G.P.

The REV. J. B. RAYNER was born at Hough End, near Leeds, in the year 1837. His father was a local preacher with us and took an active part in building up Primitive Methodism in that part of the country. Scarcity of work caused him to remove to Eston, in the Middlesbrough Circuit, where his son was led to trust in the Saviour and to devote himself to His cause. He began by teaching a class in the Sunday-school, and conducting cottage meetings, and in due time he became an accredited local preacher. Eston was then in the Stockton Circuit, which included what are now the Stockton, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, and Guisbrough Circuits; and Mr. Rayner often walked twelve or fifteen miles on a Sunday that he might make known Christ to his fellow-men. At many of the places he was in great demand, especially for camp meetings and school anniversaries. Indeed, a camp meeting was scarcely complete without him, for his tall form and powerful voice eminently fitted him to either lead a procession or preach in the open-air. 

In those days accidents were common in the mines at Eston, and Mr, Rayner was often wanted to carry the consolations of Christianity to the lame and the dying. More than once he has sat up an entire night with men that he might point them to the cross and smooth their pathway to the tomb. Whilst thus engaged the Rev. W. Lister came to the circuit, and seeing his aptitude for Christian work and devotion to it, he sent him to labour on the Middleham Mission. He subsequently laboured on the following stations:—Portadown, Belfast, Penrith, Morecambe, Edinburgh, Barrow, Preston, Haslingden, Douglas, Oldham, Shipley, and Midlesbrough; and on each of them he gave evidence of that consecration for which he was noted when a local preacher. 

Early in his ministerial life he became a superintendent, and he was always either building chapels or grappling with chapel debts. His excessive labours, and anxiety in connection with chapel debts, at length told on his powerful frame, and for some years his intimate friends saw that he was marked to fall. He knew this and would at times talk about it. But this knowledge in no way distressed him, for ‘living or dying he was the Lord’s.’ 

On the 25th of February, 1886, death came to him somewhat suddenly, as he had anticipated. The previous day he visited several families at South Bank, in company with his colleague—the Rev. S. Barker; and then preached from the words, ‘He bringeth His own unto the desired haven.’ At the close of the service he returned to his home at, Middlesbrough, slept soundly, and the next morning went to join the blessed. The day on which he was buried was stormy, still hundreds came from far and near to show their respect for him by following his remains to the grave.

He was a man of good mental parts and had an extensive acquaintance with English literature. His sermons were of a practical kind, and generally dealt with subjects that have an important bearing on every-day life. Those that he contributed to the Review are fair specimens of his pulpit style, and no one can read them without feeling that their author was anxious to win men to goodness and to Christ. As a superintendent he carefully attended to the church, school, and chapel interests of his circuits, and was generally able to report success. He had a fine moral nature. His conscience was active and he was loyal to its dictates. His life was not long, but it was full of goodness, so the world has been made better by it.


John was born in January 1837 at Hough End, Leeds, Yorkshire, to parents John Rayner, a stone mason (1851), and Mary Buxton.

In the 1851 census return John is described as a factory boy.

He married Margaret Brown (1842-1866) in July 1865 in Weardale, Co. Durham.

He married Sarah Alice Close (1838-1922) in the summer of 1867 at Lancaster, Lancashire.

John died on 25 February 1886 at Middlesbrough, Yorkshire. He was buried on 1 March 1886 at Linthorpe Cemetery.

Sarah married James Taylor, a retired sea captain, in late 1890 at Barrow in Furness, Lancashire.


  • 1861 Portsmouth
  • 1864 Penrith
  • 1865 Lancaster
  • 1866 Edinburgh
  • 1869 Barrow in Furness
  • 1871 Preston
  • 1873 Haslingden II
  • 1875 Douglas II
  • 1879 Oldham II
  • 1881 Shippley
  • 1884 Middlesbrough


Primitive Methodist Magazine 1887/305

PM Minutes 1886/16

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

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

Note: Records vary in the spelling of the surname between Rayner and Raynor.

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