Read, William Henry (1908-1981)

Transcription of obituary published in the Minutes of Conference

WILLIAM HENRY READ: born at Poole on 7th May 1908 of Primitive Methodist parents, his father being a Local Preacher. He won a scholarship to Poole Secondary School. While a student at Hartley College, he and Frank Bedford went climbing in Wales, acting as guides to parties in Snowdonia. At this time he met Marie Snow, secretary to the Rev. Herbert Leggate of Toc H, and they were married by him in 1935. 

He travelled in the following circuits: Market Rasen, Chelmsford, New Forest Mission, Nuneaton and Atherstone, Chorley, Stroud and Cirencester, Northwich (London Road and Central), Leeds (South), Hornsea (Market Place), Portland, Newbury, and West Wight. At West Wight Marie, who had been a tower of strength to him, died of cancer. While nursing her, his love exemplified and reflected his devotion to his people throughout his ministry. Her death brought a great sense of loss and deep grief. 

He had a devout commitment to his Lord, preaching his deep conviction, amply illustrated from life, with simplicity. His accumulated wealth in love and his strength of faith secured the faith of many others. He was a gentle, quiet, understanding and conscientious leader. At different points in his ministry he was officiating chaplain to the R.A.F., Army, and Royal Navy. He had a great influence on young people, one of whom, an American serviceman, entered the ministry of the Baptist Church. Later, a prisoner at The Verne, after being led to the Lord, presented to him one of his cherished possessions, a book-case. He was also Chaplain to Portland Borstal. 

His deep concern for those suffering from mental illness was reflected during his chaplaincy to Whitecroft Hospital, Isle of Wight. Underlying his commitment to his work was a growing love for Jesus. Retirement brought increasing ill health, pain and limitation of movement but he took a renewed interest in some of his old hobbies including geology and meteorology. Latterly his main joy was his family who brought him great comfort. 

He died on the 26th April 1981 in the seventy-third year of his age and the fiftieth year of his ministry.


William was born on 7 May 1908 at Poole, Dorset, to parents Albert William Read, a carman (1911), and Emily Rixon.

He married Marie Snow (1909-1969) in the summer of 1935 at Manchester, Lancashire. Birth records identify three children.

  • Michael C (b1937)
  • Christine M (b1941)
  • Hazel M (b1946)

William died on 26 April 1981 at Portland, Dorset.


  • Hartley
  • 1931 Market Rasen
  • 1932 Chelmsford
  • 1935 New Forest Mission
  • 1937 Nuneaton &c
  • 1941 Chorley
  • 1944 Stroud &c
  • 1956 Northwich London Rd
  • 1948 Leeds S
  • 1952 Hornsea Market Place
  • 1955 Portland
  • 1960 Newbury
  • 1967 West Wight
  • 1973 West Wight (S)


Methodist  Minutes 1981/84

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

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

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