Slater, John (1838-1903)

Primitive Methodist Magazine 1892
Primitive Methodist Magazine 1904
Elizabeth Slater
Primitive Methodist Magazine 1905

Early years

John was born on 1 August 1838 at Barnoldswick, Yorkshire to parents James and Alice. James worked as a cotton doffer at a cotton mill. Due to changes in the cotton industry, the family moved several times whilst John was a child, ending up at Summit in the Knowlswood circuit. James died whilst John was relatively young leaving Alice to bring up seven children.

John attended the Congregational Sunday School as a boy. In his early youth, John was wild and mischievous, if not wicked, and gave little promise of either mental culture or moral worth.

When John was 16, there was a revival at Summit and he was converted along with James Travis. The change in John was very marked; he gave himself to study and to religious work as a Sunday School teacher, missioner and local preacher.


John spent 15 years of his active ministry in Manchester and 14 in Sheffield. He was active in District administration serving as Secretary of the District Building Committee and Sunday School Committee.

John’s obituary records that his preaching was practical and experimental, rather than being of a theological or philosophical, order. His themes were evangelical. They were discussed in a plain lucid style. He was also a wise and diligent pastor.

John was widely known as an ardent Temperance Reformer and for 20 years was connected with the executive of the Sunday Closing Association.

In 1889 John became vice to the General Missionary Secretary. On the death of Rev R W Burnett he took over that office in July 1902.

John was described as having a fine Christian character. He was kind, genuine, generous. His heart was full of warm human impulses and passions. He was a most brotherly man, frank and candid in his fellowship, an interesting and agreeable companion. His exuberance of spirits and mirthfulness attracted the young to him and caused children to delight in his presence. He was an enormous worker.


John married Elizabeth Kershaw (1837-1904) in the summer of 1864 at Chorlton, Lancashire. Census returns identify three children.

  • John William (b1865) – an insurance agent (1891)
  • Elizabeth Kershaw (1868-1917) – married John Frederick Capewell, a tinware manufacturer (1911)
  • Frederick James (1873-1933) – an accountant

John died on 17 March 1903 at Manchester, Lancashire.


  • 1860 Manchester l
  • 1861 Manchester lll
  • 1863 Oldham ll
  • 1864 Blackburn
  • 1868 Manchester lV
  • 1872 Bury
  • 1875 Manchester lV
  • 1882 Liverpool lll
  • 1884 Rochdale
  • 1888 Sheffield V
  • 1893 Sheffield lll
  • 1896 Sheffield lV
  • 1902 Holloway


Primitive Methodist Magazine 1892/577; 1904/573; 1905/493 (Elizabeth)

PM Minutes 1903/30

H B Kendall, Origin and History of the PM Church, vol 2, p373

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

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers



Comments about this page

  • This page was modified on 14 December 2017 to add a transcription of John’s obituary, published in the Primitive Methodist Magazine 1904.

    By Geoff Dickinson (14/12/2017)

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