Reed, John (1845-1912)

Transcription of obituary published in the Minutes of Conference by T Alex Thompson

JOHN REED,—On the 21st November, 1912, after a very brief illness, John Reed passed away at Bishop Auckland, where for eleven years he had resided during his superannuation. A spell of ill-health two years before had left its traces; even his remarkable energy began to shew signs of failing. The massive, burly frame, which distinguished him physically, gave very aptly a suggestion of the whole personality. Here was one obviously determined and tenacious, difficult to move from a position once taken up. It was not hard to discern that he was capable of intense feeling, easily aroused. Possessed of vivid, though not expansive sympathies, he would throw himself with passion and doggedness into everything that he did. 

In the surroundings of his boyhood there was much to which his abandon and impulsiveness gave a ready response. He was born at Old Cassop, near Sunderland, sixty-seven years ago. When he was nearing sixteen the family removed to Bishop’s Close, in the neighbourhood of Spennymoor. His father was for long an official of the Spennymoor Circuit. During a big revival John Reed, his eldest sister, and his three brothers were all converted. The boys all became local preachers. At that time and in that region Joseph Spoor, Thomas Southron, and Ralph Fenwick were in the full glory of their mighty influence. It was often said that Joseph Spoor was John Reed’s hero, and served the budding preacher as his model, though it could not lie in the nature of things for two Joseph Spoors to exist. 

Those early days were full of ardent, almost vehement religious life. John Reed was one of the first batch of students at the Sunderland Institute. He entered the ministry in 1869, beginning at Eyemouth, in the Berwick Circuit. Here in his first winter he had a revival such as he loved He finished probation at Brampton, and after his marriage with Miss Coates, began his full ministry at St. Helens Auckland. Most of his term was passed in the north. His centres of work were thereafter successively North Sunderland, Allendale, Maryport, Penrith, Kendal, Dalton-in-Furness, Easingwold, and Epworth. For his last circuit he returned to St. Helens Auckland, completing a term of five years there. 

It was not in his nature to do anything but work hard; and the success that such work as his may be expected to bring never failed. He was vigorous in his pulpit style. He held strenuously to the theology of his early days, and took a pride in never moving from it. He had dogged convictions, and was supremely jealous for those forms and standards of truth most familiar and congenial to his own thinking, The hard front of inflexible opposition which he presented to deviations there-from had behind it a genuine concern. His passionate fidelity to his own understanding of the truth led him more than once into emphatic protest. That such protests involved pain to himself and to others did not make him shrink from what he regarded as his duty. Where such matters were not involved the kindliness of his nature flowed unchecked. 

He found a deep pleasure in his active circuit life in ministering with much success to the bodily ailments of his people. When he settled in Bishop Auckland his time was almost wholly given to the practice of his art. His fame spread widely, He undoubtedly possessed considerable intuition, and much natural skill in dealing with bone troubles. To many he brought relief from pain and release from threatening crippledom. Though without advantages in his own early days, he did not despise culture, To his sons he gave the opportunity of a thorough medical education. They are now esteemed and successful practitioners at Barrow. His daughter, Miss Kathleen Reed, is well-known in Bishop Auckland musical circles. 

A largely attended funeral service was held in the Central Church on Sunday, Nov. 24th. The Rev. T. Elliott, of Shildon, gave the address. In more than one church and in the local papers special reference was made to the passing away of one of the remarkable figures of the community.


John was born in 1845 at Old Cassop, nr. Sunderland, Co. Durham, to parents William, a farmer (1851) and Jane. His younger brother, William, was also a PM minister.

He married Mary Hannah Coates (1843-1922) in the summer of 1873 in the Northallerton Registration District, Yorkshire. Census returns identify three of four children.

  • John Arthur (1875-1940) – a medical professor (1911); a surgeon (retired (1939)              
  • Kathleen Annie (1878-1947) – a music teacher (1911)              
  • Ernest William (1879-1944)  – a surgeon (1911), M.D. radiologist (1939)        

John died on 21 November 1912 at Bishop Auckland, Co. Durham.


  • Sunderland
  • 1869 Berwick
  • 1872 Brompton
  • 1873 St Helens Auckland
  • 1876 N Sunderland
  • 1877 Allendale
  • 1879 Maryport
  • 1881 Penrith
  • 1885 Kendal
  • 1889 Dalton in Furness
  • 1891 Easingwold
  • 1894 Epworth
  • 1896 St Helens Auckland


PM Minutes 1913/39

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

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

No Comments

Start the ball rolling by posting a comment on this page!

Add a comment about this page

Your email address will not be published.