Shepherd, James Thorpe (1820-1897)

Primitive Methodist Magazine 1870

Early years

James was born on 30 December 1820 at Amotherby, nr Malton, Yorkshire. He joined the Primitive Methodist Society, which worshiped in his father’s house, at the age of 12. He became a local preacher at the age of 17 and would regularly preach twenty times per quarter. He declined a call to the ministry in 1839 from Swinefleet, but accepted a call from Otley in December 1841.


In his first appointment, James missioned Horsforth, Burley in Wharfedale and Guisley with success in the company of Betty Bell.

His obituary records; ‘He never had any sympathy with brief addresses and short essays, which have to do duty for sermons sometimes now. A forty five minute sermon, crammed with the best thought, and delivered with great earnestness was his idea of preaching.’

James was a very able administrator. His stations have not only had peace, but properity both material and spiritual. The increase on his stations was over 1000.

James was a modest man and, in that modesty, he destroyed nearly every manuscript he had written.


James married Hannah Hardy Gibson (1821-1895) in 1846 at Kilham, Yorkshire. Census returns identify seven children.

  • Josiah Henry (1848-1864)
  • Priscilla (1851-1926) – married Robert William Keightley, a PM Minister
  • Alfred (1853-1934) – a drapers assistant and later a traveller in the fish trade.
  • Annie Elizabeth (1856-1937) – married Thomas Robinson Watkinson, a fish merchant
  • Edwin (1858-1921) – a newsagent
  • Louisa Caroline (1860-1925) – assisted in a work-house in 1911
  • Lavinia (1862-1938) – married William Henry Dyche, a house painter

James died on 5 September 1897 at Doncaster.


  • 1842 Driffield
  • 1844 Pontefract
  • 1845 Retford
  • 1846 Epworth
  • 1848 Grimsby
  • 1850 Louth
  • 1851 Scotter
  • 1853 Gainsborough
  • 1855 Scarborough
  • 1858 Swinefleet
  • 1861 Winterton
  • 1864 Doncaster
  • 1867 Scotter
  • 1872 Filey
  • 1876 Grimsby ll
  • 1879 Barton on Humber
  • 1880 Doncaster
  • 1883 Doncaster (S)


Primitive Methodist Magazine 1870 (portrait); 1896/789 (Hannah); 1898/307

PM Minutes 1898/20

H B Kendall, Origin and History of the PM Church, vol 1, p503

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

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers


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