Soulsby, Joseph Graham (1877-1960)

Primitive Methodist Magazine 1927
Primitive Methodist Magazine 1932
Primitive Methodist Magazine 1927

Early years

Joseph was born in 1877 at Boldon Colliery, Co Durham, to parents Thomas and Elizabeth Ann. Thomas was a coal miner. Joseph was baptised on 11 March 1877 at South Shields, Co. Durham.

Joseph became a church member before his ninth birthday. At Leadgate, in the Shotley Bridge circuit, he became a Sunday School teacher and at West Pelton, in the Stanley circuit, he went on the local preachers’ plan. Rev William Gelley was his mentor. Joseph entered Hartley College when he was twenty years of age.


Joseph spent ten years as organising secretary of the District Social Service Union. He also served as District Missionary Secretary.

In 1930, when already in his fifties, the Connexional Overseas Missions Committee asked him to superintend the Northern Rhodesia District. He had no missionary experience, and the acceptance of this call had a touch of the heroic about it. The last two years of his African term were spent at Waddilove Training Institution.

His obituary records that Joseph was not afraid to initiate new ideas and programmes, and helped to found, among other things, the Social Service Union and the annual District May Missionary Meetings in Newcastle. He was a constant reader of biblical, theological, social and missionary literature. He had great power as a preacher and advocate, and his pastoral gifts were quite remarkable. He was a man of wide vision, and of great daring and courage.


Joseph married Rachel Edith Lumb (1879-1965) in late 1903 at Middlesbrough, Yorkshire. Records identify three children.

  • Hugh Graham (1904-1995) – a civil servant (Foreign Office)
  • Dorothy (1906-1997) – married Alfred G Standing in 1930
  • Kenneth Hinchcliffe (1917-1985)

Joseph died on 22 January 1960 at Newcastle-upon-Tyne.


  • Hartley
  • 1899 Middlesbrough
  • 1904 Gateshead II
  • 1908 Chester le Street
  • 1913 Seaton Delaval
  • 1918 Blaydon
  • 1924 Burnopfield
  • 1929 Shotley Bridge
  • 1930 N Rhodesia
  • 1945 S Rhodesia
  • 1946 Harrow (Sup)


Primitive Methodist Magazine 1927/76; 1932/391

Methodist Minutes 1960/191

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 12 January 2016 to add a sketch published in the Christian Messenger 1917.

    By Geoff Dickinson (12/01/2016)

Add a comment about this page

Your email address will not be published.