Swallow, Thomas (1819-1890)

Transcription of obituary published in the Primitive Methodist Magazine by R Jones

THOMAS SWALLOW was born at Lound, near Retford, Nottinghamshire, January 31, 1819. While a child, the family removed to Bawtrey, Yorkshire, and subsequently to Leeds. His parents were sturdy Wesleyans and he was carefully nurtured in the same faith. From childhood he earnestly desired to live the Christian life, but at the age of seventeen he definitely and consciously surrendered himself to the claims and service of Jesus Christ. This decision was the result of a sermon preached by the Rev. R. Aitkin in Brunswick Chapel, Leeds. Henceforth he desired to witness before the world concerning Christ and His salvation. He at once became a Sunday-school teacher, tract distributor, and a missionary collector. His spiritual progress and fitness for usefulness soon became apparent, and two years later he preached his first sermon in a small chapel at Colton, near Leeds. He was examined and put on the Local Preachers’ plan, and afterwards recommended for the ministry. 

At the Conference, however, there was a surplus of candidates, and all the men of that year had to wait till the following Conference. At the Conference of 1842 there was still a large surplus, and many candidates were rejected. For some reason Thomas Swallow was among the number. The reason assigned was that he had a matrimonial engagement, but as no such engagement existed the real cause of his being rejected is still a mystery. 

After this severe trial and disappointment, he supplied for a time for two Wesleyan ministers who were sick. But he was dissatisfied with the polity and administration, and in 1843 he left the Wesleyan Connexion. Soon after he joined the ‘Wesleyan Association,’ and was proposed and examined for the ministry and appointed to Clitheroe. He travelled successively in the Louth, Worcester, Northampton, Glasgow, Liverpool, and Oldham Circuits. In 1854 he superannuated in consequence of ill-health. He went to reside at Douglas, Isle of Man, and as the Wesleyan Association had no church there, he joined the Primitive Methodists. 

In 1856 he removed to Liverpool, and as his health was now established he resolved to re-enter the active ministry. He offered himself to the Wesleyan Association, to which ministry he had previously belonged, but for some reason his offer was not accepted. He had previously become acquainted with many ministers and friends connected with the Primitive Methodist Church, and at the request of the Rev. James Garner and others he offered himself for our ministry. He was accepted by the Conference of 1862, and appointed to the Liverpool Circuit under the wise and able superintendency of the late Rev. Joseph Gibson. He remained in the circuit three years and removed to Birkenhead, where he completed his probation. He was subsequently appointed to Oldham, Manchester Fourth, Birkenhead (second time), and Liverpool First.

In the year 1872 he superannuated and afterward resided in Liverpool, first in connection with Princes Avenue, and for several years with the Everton Road Church. During these years, until incapacitated by sickness, Mr. Swallow was continually engaged in preaching in the Liverpool and Birkenhead circuits and took an active interest in all that affected the church. Mr. Swallow was twice married and leaves a widow, to whom we offer the warmest condolence of our churches in this time of sorrow and loss.

As a preacher Mr. Swallow was calm, deliberate, and impressive in his manner. His sentences were short, incisive, clear cut, and far-reaching. He was practical and faithful. His theology was of the older Methodist type. As an administrator he was cautious, impartial, and by some he was thought to be severe. Mr. Swallow possessed considerable literary taste and ability. His ‘Life of an Old Methodist,’ ‘Spiritual Refreshment for Travellers to Zion,’ and ‘Disruptions and Secessions in Methodism’ have all had a wide circulation. For several years he suffered acutely from atrophy of the muscles. But though the tabernacle was dissolving, the work of decay was only perceptible to the close observer.

Until two days before his death he was interested in all that pertained to the church. He inquired about the arrangements of the approaching Conference, and specially wished for a plan. On Thursday, May 28th, he was taken suddenly worse, and on the following day he quietly passed away. Only a few hours before the end he assured the writer that all was well and that he was ‘perfectly ready to live or die as the Master willed.’ His remains were interred in the Necropolis Cemetery, Everton, on Tuesday, June 2nd, in the presence of a large number of sorrowing friends. Mr. Swallow was well-known by the churches of Liverpool, and especially by the various sections of the Methodist community, and wherever known was held in high esteem.


Thomas was born on 30 January 1819 at Lound, Nottinghamshire, to parents William and Jane. he was baptised on 2 February 1819 at Lound.

Before becoming a PM minister, Thos was a Wesleyan Association minister.

He married Mary (abt1803-1877) of the Isle of Man before the 1851 census.

He married Sophia Law (b1848) on 4 April 1878 at St Columba’s Church, Liverpool, Lancashire. Census returns identify one child.

  • Thomas Haddon (1880-1883)

Thomas died on 29 May 1891 at Liverpool, Lancashire.

Sophia married Rev. Thomas Henry Richards in 1894.


  • 1845 Louth – WMA
  • 1846 Worcester
  • 1848 Northampton
  • 1849 Glasgow
  • 1850 Liverpool
  • 1852 Liverpool Sup.
  • 1853 Oldham
  • 1854 retired on act of wife’s health
  • 1862 Liverpool – PM
  • 1865 Birkenhead
  • 1866 Oldham I
  • 1867 Manchester IV
  • 1868 Birkenhead
  • 1871 Liverpool I
  • 1872 Birkenhead (S)
  • 1877 Liverpool I
  • 1879 Liverpool III


Primitive Methodist Magazine 1893/180

PM Minutes 1891/18

O.A. Beckerlegge, United Methodist Ministers and their Circuits, 1968

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

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

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