Stafford, Joseph Leonard (1904-1978)

Transcription of obituary published in the Primitive Methodist Magazine

JOSEPH LEONARD STAFFORD: born in Derby on 13th September 1904. He was educated at Derby Municipal Secondary School and Derby Technical College, and was accepted as a candidate for the ministry of the Primitive Methodist Connexion in the year 1924. After service in the Dalton and Millom and Shaftesbury Circuits, he entered Hartley College, Manchester, where he was a diligent and able student, He was stationed in the Dartmouth, Newark, Kimberley, Doncaster (Highfield Road), Long Eaton, West Wight, Runcorn, Andover, Oldham (West) and Oldbury Circuits and served with distinction as chaplain to H.M. Forces, first at Dartmouth as United Board chaplain to Naval personnel, then as Army chaplain from 1943-46 during which term he accompanied his regiment through the Italian campaign. Later, whilst serving in the Andover Circuit, he was officiating chaplain at Barton Stacey Army Camp. He also served as Warden and Chaplain of Wesley House, Berlin, from 1956-60. 

It was while on active service that he contracted and survived a severe attack of smallpox. While in the Oldham (West) Circuit, he suffered an acute coronary attack which, with angina, was to restrict him physically for the rest of his life—a limitation that was often frustrating to his determined will and energetic spirit. He retired to Ventnor in the Isle of Wight in 1969. 

He had an enquiring and alert mind and he revelled in debate. He followed scientific and technological advance with interest, but his particular areas of study were philosophy and psychology. He specialized in the issues and problems of psychic research and was a member of the Isle of Wight branch of the Churches’ Fellowship for Psychical and Spiritual Studies. His was a devoted and faithful ministry. He was a stimulating and challenging preacher, a true and kindly pastor, and one who enjoyed administration. Few, beyond those who knew him well, were aware of the personal cost and effort involved in the fulfilment of interests and duties during the last decade. 

He began preparing an Easter sermon on the day of his death, to have been preached, if he had lived, on the following Sunday. He died on 28th March 1978 in the seventy-fourth year of his age and the fifty-second year of his ministry.


Joseph was born on 13 September 1904 at Derby, Derbyshire, to parents Joseph Stafford, a carter for railway company (1911), and Mary Jane Savage.

He married Sabina Lillian Hull (1907-1995) in the summer of 1930 in the Tisbury Registration District. Wiltshire.

Joseph died on 28 March 1978 at Ventnor, Isle of Wight, Hampshire.


  • 1924 Dalton & Millom
  • 1925 Shaftsbury
  • 1926 Hartley
  • 1928 Dartmouth
  • 1930 Newark
  • 1933 Kimberley
  • 1936 Doncaster
  • 1939 Long Eaton
  • 1942 West Wight
  • 1943 Chaplain, H.M. Forces
  • 1946 West Wight
  • 1950 Runcorn
  • 1953 Andover
  • 1956 H.M. Com
  • 1960 Oldham west
  • 1966 Oldbury
  • 1969 Ventnor (Sup)


Methodist Minutes 1978/93

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

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

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