Sunderland, William (1845-1881)

Transcription of obituary published in the Minutes of Conference by Geo. E. Lloyd

WILLIAM SUNDERLAND was born in the town of Keighley on November 3, 1845. His mother was a member of the Wesleyan Society, and he received religious instruction in the Wesleyan Methodist Sunday-school. His conversion took place in the school, and by a natural process he graduated into the ranks of the local ministry. He was only 15 years of age when he preached his first sermon, and his religious life may be dated from his tenth year. The field of usefulness offered by Primitive Methodism, and the simple, zealous services of the denomination suiting his youthful mind, he threw in his lot with us when only 16 years of age. 

Two years after he entered Elmfield College, and devoted himself to preparation for the itinerancy After staying there a year he was appointed by the Conference to Manchester, where he spent the first year of his ministry, and where he was made instrumental in leading many to Christ. He subsequently travelled in Liverpool one year, Chorley two years, Oldham three years, Helmshore one year, Bolton three years, and Bury three years. The Conference of 1880 appointed him to the New Mills Circuit, where, after 10 months of earnest and reliable work, he was called to his reward. 

His illness only lasted ten days, and was the result of a cold incurred while attending the funeral of his mother, who died only a few weeks before he was called away. Inflammation settled in his stomach, and, in spite of the attention paid to him, passed to his brain. For several days he was unconscious and delirious, and seemed to be absorbed in the contemplation of his work. He frequently talked as if the congregations were before him—sometimes preaching, and at other times conducting a prayer-meeting, or administering the Sacrament. A short time before he died a gleam of consciousness visited him, and, turning to one who was in the room, he said, ‘I am going to where the spirits of just men are made perfect.’ At 11.30 a.m. on Sunday, May 1, his spirit glided so quietly from the body that for some moments it was not known that he had returned to God. 

His character was unostentatious, but sincere in its attachment to truth and God. He did not so much talk religion in his ordinary intercourse as show by his sincerity and uprightness that he was a true follower of Christ. His preaching abilities were considerably above mediocrity, and his friendships were real and lasting. As an administrator of discipline and a capable man of business, he stood high. His loss will be deeply felt by the numerous circle of friends that delighted in his company, by the circuit to which he had endeared himself by his practical sense, zealous labours, and goodness of heart, but chiefly by the widow and four children who are left behind.


William was born on 3 November 1845 at Keighley, Yorkshire. I have not been able to unambiguously identify William’s parents.

He married Marianne Williams Dani (1847-1923) in the summer of 1870 in the Chorley Registration District, Lancashire. Birth records identify five children.

  • Arthur Dani (1872-1917) – died whilst in the Army
  • Ernest William (1873-1874)  
  • Marianne Wilhelmina (1875-1941) – a stationer’s assistant (1901); married Walter Mark Hughes, a brewer’s clerk (1941), in 1928     
  • Evangeline (b1877)   – married Ernest Evans, a butcher’s clerk (1911), in 1900; married Andrew J Ford, a machinist (1920), in 1918; emigrated to USA in 1919                     
  • Rebekah Ellen (1881-1934) – married William R Mooney, a machine ruler at printers, in 1905

William died on 1 May 1881 at New Mills, Derbyshire.


  • Elmfield
  • 1866 Manchester II
  • 1867 Liverpool
  • 1868 Chorley
  • 1870 Oldham II
  • 1873 Haslingden I
  • 1874 Bolton I
  • 1877 Bury
  • 1880 New Mills


PM Minutes 1881/13

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

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

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