Rowe, William (1817-1888)

Primitive Methodist Magazine 1867

Early Years

William was born on 10 April 1817 at Wootton, Staffordshire. He was baptised on 11 May 1817 at Ellastone, Staffordshire. His parents, Thomas Rowe and Mary Finney, were farmers and attendees of the established church. The family moved to Thornton Hough on the Wirral when William was a child.

When young, William was ‘full of frolic and mischief’. Looking to find a source of mirth he went to a Primitive Methodist service at Willaston, Wirral. He found himself converted rather than finding a joke on 10 April 1834 and immediately joined the society at Willaston.

He was a local preacher for five years.  William declined two invitations to ministry before his own circuit Chester convinced him to become one of their ministers.


William’s first appointment outside his own circuit was to the Preston Brook mission.

His obituary records that he had a strong constitution. His sanguine temperament inclined him to look at the bright side of things. Hence he was cheerful in circumstances that would have made men of a different make-up gloomy and sad.

He was an orthodox Methodist in doctrine and an ardent temperance reformer. His sermons were not dry scholarly essays, but direct and pointed appeals to the understanding , conscience and emotions of his hearers.

William was President of Conference in 1874 and Secretary of the Connexional  Missionary Committee 1874-1878.


William married Elizabeth Mather (b abt 1820) in 1845 at Warrington, Lancashire. Census returns identify four children.

  • Mary (b1848) – married William Smith, a PM Minister
  • Thomas (b1849)
  • Elizabeth Jane (1851-1928) – married George Fallowdean Adams, a solicitors clerk
  • Esther Jane (1858-1873)

William died on 30 May 1888 at St Annes on Sea (Lytham) and was buried at Chester.


  • 1840 Preston Brook
  • 1842 Warrington
  • 1843 Cadishead
  • 1844 Chester
  • 1846 Manchester
  • 1848 Blackburn
  • 1851 Preston
  • 1856 Manchester ll
  • 1858 Manchester l
  • 1861 Manchester lll
  • 1863 Chester
  • 1866 Liverpool lll
  • 1869 Oldham l
  • 1874 London GMC
  • 1878 Chester (Sup)


Primitive Methodist Magazine 1867 (portrait)

PM Minutes 1888/15

H B Kendall, Origin and History of the PM Church, vol 2, p292

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

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

Note: More information about William Rowe is held at Cheshire and Chester Archives –File DDX562.


Comments about this page

  • An extract from his Memoir recalling his first encounter with the Primitive Methodists, has been added to this page. It has been transcribed by Ed Hilditch, who adds: ’The Willaston he refers to is in Wirral and there is a Methodist church there today. There is no date to tie it to the 1819 mission but it must have been about that time.’

    By Jill Barber (14/12/2017)

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