Sparling, William (1841-1894)

Transcription of obituary published in the Minutes of Conference by Geo. James

WILLIAM SPARLING was born in the parish of Great Holland, County of Essex, February 23rd, 1841. His father was a Christian man, and a warm-hearted Primitive Methodist. His mother, he says, was one of the best of women. Our brother was, therefore, favoured with early religious instruction and a good example. His father died when he was seven years of age. He was converted when twelve years old, but after running well for a season he was hindered, although he never plunged into open wickedness.

When about sixteen he resolved to enter upon a seafaring life; but after a short trial returned home, and once more commenced to attend the services of the Primitive Methodists at Kirby, in the Colchester circuit. He was powerfully awakened under the preaching of the Gospel, and gave himself fully to God. He joined the church and soon became a local preacher. In 1863 he was engaged by Wangford circuit as second preacher. At the Conference of 1864 he was received on probation. 

In 1865 he was appointed to Briston circuit, where he remained two years. His next circuit was Bury St. Edmonds. He also travelled in the Cambridge and Lynn circuits. On April 17th, 1872, he and Mrs. Sparling, in company with the venerable Robert Ward and two other young ministers, sailed from Gravesend in the ship Harkaway, and arrived in port Jackson after a very pleasant voyage. His first station in New South Wales was St. Peters, and after labouring for 20 years with great acceptance on various stations he was again stationed at St. Peters. 

At the Annual Assembly of 1893 he was unanimously elected President; and during the year he discharged the duties of his office with judgment and satisfaction. His address, when vacating the chair, was one of the best to which we have listened.

He was then in his usual good health, and no one thought he was so soon to leave us; but he was seized with typhoid, and although all was done that medical skill could devise, he grew worse. Prayer was offered in all the Sydney churches for his recovery; but his work was done, and he was called to his heavenly rest. When near the end he assured the writer he was ‘Safe in the arms of Jesus.’ On the 13th of March, 1894, he departed ‘to be with Christ, which is far better.’ 

He was the first Primitive Methodist minister who has died in this Colony. His death is a serious loss to our church in the Colony. He was a ‘Man greatly beloved, and his memory is blessed,’


William was born on 23 February 1841 at Great Holland, Essex, to parents William, who worked the land (1841), and Sarah.

The 1861 census return records William as an agricultural labourer and local preacher.

He married Harriett Harrison (1842-1874) in the summer of 1868 in the Bury St Edmunds Registration District, Suffolk.

He married Mary Longley (d1939) in 1875 at Penrith, New South Wales.

William died on 13 March 1894 at St Peters, Sydney, New South Wales Australia.


  • 1864 Wangford
  • 1865 Briston
  • 1867 Bury St Edmunds
  • 1868 Cambridge
  • 1870 Lynn
  • 1874 Parramatta – Australia
  • 1875 Camden
  • 1876 Morpeth
  • 1878 Wallsend
  • 1881 Sydney I
  • 1882 Forest Lodge
  • 1884 Marrickville
  • 1889 Goulburn
  • 1892 Newtown


PM Minutes 1895/20

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

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

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