Shields, Ralph (1818-1875)

Primitive Methodist Magazine 1868

Ralph was born on 8 February 1818 at Cockfield, Co Durham. His parents were very poor and Ralph was sent to work in the coal mine at the age of 9. He worked as a miner until he was 18.

Ralph was converted during a revival at St Helen, Auckland under the ministry of Joseph Spoor. Following conversion, he joined the PM Society and learned to read and write. After two years membership, Ralph went on the plan and two years later entered the itinerant ministry.


Ralph’s obituary records that he was strong, hearty, healthy, prayerful, hopeful, companiable, industrious, read much, studied hard, sometimes preached rather long, anxious to discharge his duties and sustain his responsibilities acceptably and successfully; thoroughly upright, resolved by divine grace to glorify God and save men; and delighting himself in the Lord, obtained the desire of his heart.

Ralph spent three years as Secretary of the District Committee.


Ralph married Sarah Thompson (1825-1890) in the spring of 1846 at Hexham, Northumberland. Census returns identify two children.

  • Thompson (b 1851) – a ship broker and agent, possibly died in USA in 1892.
  • Joseph (1853-1895) – an architect and surveyor

Ralph died on 24 August 1875 in Durham.


  • 1841 Ripon
  • 1842 Middleham
  • 1843 Hexham
  • 1846 Whitby
  • 1847 Berwick
  • 1850 Alston
  • 1852 Barnard Castle
  • 1854 Carlisle
  • 1856 S Shields
  • 1860 Shotley Bridge
  • 1864 Hexham
  • 1868 Sunderland
  • 1871 Stanley
  • 1875 Durham


Primitive Methodist Magazine 1868 (portrait); 1876/106

PM Minutes 1876/6

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

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers


Comments about this page

  • Fantastic to read this, Ralph Shields is my 2nd great grand uncle – nearly all the Shields family have been miners it was amazing what he managed to achieve – and what he made possible for his family by breaking the cycle by learning to read and write and getting out of the mines.

    By Julie Goodman (Shields) (07/08/2013)

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