Spensley, John (1839-1925)

Primitive Methodist Magazine 1897
Primitive Methodist Magazine 1919
Primitive Methodist Magazine 1902

Early years

John was born on 7 June 1839 at Silkstone, Yorkshire to parents Thomas and Mary. Thomas was a coal miner.

John worked as a coal miner from the age of ten before entering the ministry. His testimony, published in the 1919 Primitive Methodist Magazine, identifies that he had two narrow escapes from death during his 12 years working in the pit.

When John was converted on 23 November 1854, he was unable to read or write. Conversion led to a thirst for knowledge. At the age of 19, he became a local preacher. Prior to entering the ministry John became a hired local preacher in his own circuit from October 1861.


John’s obituary records that he was in every way a true evangelist. Open-air services were a delight to him, and by them, he never failed to reach, attract, interest and help the outsiders, and in many cases, under his guidance, they were instrumental in drawing the man-in-the-street into the house of God.

His sermons were carefully prepared and were always more practical than theoretic. They were generally effective and helpful.

When aged 80, John still mounted a bicycle and travelled several miles on Sundays to take appointments.

John was made a Deed Poll Member of Conference.


John married Jane Kenyon (1833-1899) in July 1866 at Hemsworth, Yorkshire. Census returns identify two children.

  • John William (1867-1942) – a railway goods agent (1911)
  • Mary Jane Kenyon (1869-1885)

John married Mary Ann Stansfield (abt1836-1915) in the summer of 1900 at Chesterfield.

John died on 20 April 1925 at Mumby, Lincolnshire.


  • 1862 Malton
  • 1863 Leeds I
  • 1865 Pickering
  • 1866 Halifax
  • 1868 York
  • 1871 Malton
  • 1872 Pateley Bridge
  • 1876 Colne
  • 1879 Hoyland
  • 1881 Leeds IV
  • 1883 York I
  • 1885 Alford
  • 1888 Brigg
  • 1891 Crowle
  • 1894 Barnsley II
  • 1897 North Cave
  • 1900 Winterton
  • 1902 Brigg
  • 1905 Crowle (Sup)


Primitive Methodist Magazine 1897/723; 1902/471 (Jane); 1919/866’ 1925/657

PM Minutes 1925/269

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 31 December 2016 to add a transcription of an article describing his conversion by John Spensley, published in the Christian Messenger 1899.

    By Geoff Dickinson (31/12/2016)

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