Robson, William (1843-1930)

Transcription of obituary published in the Minutes of Conference by E Metcalfe

His early life was spent in the Shotley Bridge Circuit in the county of Durham. Lack of early educational advantages was, in his case, compensated by a vigorous, enquiring mind. After but little schooling, he was apprenticed to a blacksmith. The blacksmith’s shop, however, was for him not merely a place for the exercise of muscle, but for the development of mind, and as he toiled he taught himself the principles of arithmetic and other subjects.

He was converted in his early years and at once took the keenest interest in Church work. He had excellent natural gifts and possessed a splendid voice, the purity and power of which he retained until well over seventy years of age. He had no College training and was called into the Ministry early in life.

His first Circuit, as probationer, was Whitby to which place he came in the year 1864. Here he met the lady who was afterwards to become his wife and who was for many years a splendid help-meet in his Ministry and who passed to the home-land in 1914, beloved by all who knew her. Other probationary years were spent at Hexham and Stockton-on-Tees. From Berwick-on-Tweed he entered the full Ministry of the Church. His subsequent Ministry embraced the following Circuits: Crook, Motherwell, Lowick (twice), Berwick-on-Tweed, Ashington.

Fourteen years of his Ministry were spent in the border Circuit of Lowick. Here he exercised a very powerful Ministry. At the opening of his first term of service a revival broke out which continued for a considerable period, and which profoundly moved the whole neighbourhood. The fruits of the revival were seen in a greatly increased membership, the accession of many young workers, and the erection of new Churches at Wooler and Donaldson’s Lodge. Nor was the fruit of the revival all gathered at home, for those were influenced who carried the work further afield.

The thirty years of retirement spent in Whitby have been fruitful for good. While not able frequently to occupy the pulpit, he took the keenest interest in the Church’s work and welfare. He undertook, as an experiment, the leadership of the combined Classes in our Church Street cause for three months and was so successful that he continued the leadership for the long period of twenty-five years. 

William Robson represented a very fine type of Christian character, remarkable for its happy combination of diverse elements. He was strong, yet gentle. Firm in his judgments; widely tolerant in his judgment of others. He possessed the true dignity of Christian character, yet was clothed with humility. He had a mind with the strong, philosophic bent, blended with genuine evangelical fervour. He was a preacher of more than average ability and with more self-assertion would have made his mark Connexionally. His abounding love for our Church was evidenced by the gifts he laid upon her altar, gifts of mind, heart and will, as well as supporting her funds even beyond his means.

In politics he was a pronounced Liberal. Gladstone was his hero and the Midlothian Campaign one of the great epochs of his earlier years. 

His mortal remains were laid to rest in the Whitby Cemetery on Whit-Monday, June 9th. A service was held in the Church Street P.M. Church, conducted by the writer, assisted by the Rev. Thomas Shaw (representing the General Conimittee). The Rev. Joseph Toyn (representing the District Committee). The Rev. F. R. Brunskill offered prayer, and the Rev. William Barker delivered a tender, memorial address.


William was born abt1843 at Lanchester, Co. Durham, to parents George, a blacksmith, and Sarah.

He married Mary Ann Harding (1843-1914) in the summer of 1869 at Whitby, Yorkshire.

William died on 6 June 1930 at Whitby, Yorkshire.


  • 1864 Whitby
  • 1866 Hexham
  • 1867 Stockton
  • 1868 Berwick
  • 1869 Crook
  • 1873 Motherwell
  • 1875 Lowick
  • 1881 Berwick
  • 1883 N Sunderland
  • 1889 Lowick
  • 1897 Ashington
  • 1899 Whitby (S)


PM Minutes 1931/315

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

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

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