Reed, William Robert (1881-1964)

Transcription of obituary published in the Minutes of Conference

WILLIAM ROBERT REED: born in Whitehaven, Cumberland, in 1881. He received his early education at Whitehaven Elementary School. At the age of sixteen, he became an apprentice in engineering and was subsequently employed as an engineering fitter and turner on the docks. Brought up in a devout Primitive Methodist home, he yielded to Christ at the age of nineteen in a Prayer Meeting following a Lovefeast Service. Going forward to kneel at the Communion rail, where he was surrounded by the prayers of the people, he was soundly converted. With this transforming experience came also the call to preach. 

He was accepted as a candidate for the ministry in 1907 and received his theological training at Hartley College. After four years’ Probation at Horwich, he travelled in the following circuits: Normanton, Southport (Banks), Heywood, Orrell, Fleetwood, Southport (North), Bury and Preston Fylde Road. 

The outstanding characteristic of his ministry was his passion for souls. During his college days, he was the acknowledged leader among his fellow-students in open-air work on the streets of Manchester. Endowed with a powerful voice, he could be heard by those on the edge of the large crowds. During the First World War, he took a part-time job as an engineer at Wakefield. When leaving, a presentation was made to him by the Shop Steward who said: “If you had remained in the works much longer, there would have been a Chapel here.” He was an effective worker priest. 

The passion for souls was also reflected in his pastoral ministry. He visited his people with tireless devotion, and it is little wonder that he is remembered with affection and gratitude by so many people. He loved books, especially biographies from which he gathered illustrations for his pulpit work. Prominent also in his reading was the devotional literature of the church, and so the evangelical zeal of his youth never burnt out. It remained a master passion to the end of his days. 

He died peacefully on 26 February 1964, in his eighty-third year and the fifty-fourth year of his ministry.


William was born on 28 May 1881 at Whitehaven, Cumberland, to parents Thomas, engine man at a tannery (1891), and Mary.

In 1901 William is recorded as an apprentice engine fitter.

He married Effie Isabel Davies (1879-1965) in the summer of 1914 at Chester, Cheshire. Effie was a daughter of Rev  Edward Augustus Davies Birth Records identify two children.

  • Donald Kerr (1915-1960) – a market gardener (1939)
  • Kathleen Mary (b abt1917)

William died on 26 February 1964 in the Preston Registration District, Lancashire.


  • Hartley
  • 1910 Horwich
  • 1914 Normanton
  • 1918 Southport III
  • 1936 Heywood
  • 1930 Orrell
  • 1933 Fleetwood
  • 1939 Southport N
  • 1944 Bury &c
  • 1947 Preston Fylde
  • 1950 Preston Fylde (Sup)


Methodist Minutes 1964/209

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

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

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