Spivey, Ronald Vincent, M.A., D.D. (1906-1986)

Transcription of obituary published in the Minutes of Conference

RONALD VINCENT SPIVEY, M.A., D.D.: born at Wolverton on 7th July 1906. He was educated at Elmfield College, York, Trinity College Cambridge and Wesley House. He became a minister in the Primitive Methodist Church in 1930 and before the outbreak of war had served in Worthing, Hull, Birmingham and Southport. He was married to Esther Bradbury in 1933, with whom he shared his most distinguished ministry. 

In 1939 he moved to Bristol (East) where he was appointed to Redfield. The exigencies of war brought the churches together in united service to the community. They shared together whatever was possible, including confirmation preparation, worship and youth work. In Bristol this service was widely known as the Redfield United Front. His experience in East Bristol played a vital part in forming him into the catholic-spirited man he was, and it prepared him for what was to lie ahead. Towards the end of the war he moved to Wesley, Cambridge, where he was Chaplain to Methodist students. He proved to be a born teacher whose great skill was to translate the technical language of theology into everyday language.

In 1949 he became the minister of Wesley’s Chapel, London, where he ministered in an area and to a church that was recovering from the devastation of war. He stayed ten years helping to reconstruct the church. At the request of the Mission House he went for one year to the Southern Rhodesia District to develop courses for Local Preacher Training. His role as a teacher and interpreter was greatly appreciated. He went from there to South India, expecting to stay two years as visiting professor at the United Theological College in Bangalore, but stayed six. During this time he became a presbyter of the Church of South India. 

In 1966 as he returned to the United Kingdom he was asked to serve as a furlough relief at St. Pauls Theological College, Limuru, Kenya. There is no doubt his first love in the ministry was teaching and if it could be combined with University Chaplaincy it met his second love. It was fitting that his active ministry concluded at Hinde Street, London, where he was chaplain to London University students. 

He was a wise and perceptive chaplain who never became polarised in any theological stance, and who was loved by radical and conservative alike. Many bear testimony to the fact that his ministry was decisive for them. Since retiring he had been hardly less active. First in the Sidmouth and Bridport Circuit and then in Bristol, where he tutored in Homiletics at Wesley College, and cared for Local Preachers in training. He was a shy and deeply sensitive man. To visit him was to discover how wide was his reading and how broad his other interests, ranging from gardening to music. He was interested in everyone and interesting to be with. A man of many gifts who loved God with his whole heart and mind. 

He died on 10th October 1986 in the eighty-first year of his age and the fifty-seventh of his ministry.


Ronald was born on 7 July 1906 at Wolverton, Buckinghamshire, to parents Charles Herbert Spivey, a PM minister, and Annie Mayfield Wright.

He married Esther Broughton Bradbury (1906-2003) on 2 August 1933 at Jubilee Methodist Church, Scarborough, Yorkshire. Birth records identify one child.

  • Christopher John (1935-2016)

Ronald died on 10 October 1986 at Bristol, Gloucestershire.


  • Cambridge
  • 1930 Worthing &c
  • 1932 Hull VIII
  • 1933 H.M. Com
  • 1937 Southport N
  • 1939 Bristol Wesley
  • 1942 Cambridge
  • 1948 London Wesley’s Chapel
  • 1958 S Rhodesia
  • 1960 S India
  • 1967 London Hinde
  • 1970 Sidmouth (S)


Methodist Minutes 1987/89

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

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

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