Skelson, William (1868-1939)

Primitive Methodist Magazine 1925

Early years

William was born in 1868 at Wymeswold, Leicestershire, to parents John and Christina. John, a grocer’s warehouseman, served the Wesleyan Church in school and choir for nearly fifty years.

William made his decision for Christ at an early age. At fourteen, service began in the Sunday school. His elementary education ended at thirteen, and he passed into town life in Nottingham with membership at Arkwright Street Wesleyan Church. Here open-air speaking and preaching led on to full plan. Foreign service in the Wesleyan ministry was probable, but that door was closed by medical test. Then came an unexpected call. Mayfield Grove Church needed a ‘supply’ and Mr Skelton was appointed. For nine months he served acceptably and then went on to supply at Holywell Cross, Chesterfield. At Chesterfield he found much help and encouragement from Dr George Booth J.P.

He was urged to join the PM ministry and was recommended by the Nottingham IV circuit.


William suffered a breakdown of health at Filey and caused a period of retirement. Strength returned and the Burnley Conference of 1896 gave opportunity for a new beginning.

His obituary records that unassuming and modest, William was a powerful preacher, whose opinions carried conviction because of the sincerity of the experience on which they were based. Many local preachers owed their earliest instruction in the work of preaching to his affectionate and faithful teaching and example.


William married Clara Eleanor Hilton (1875-1948) in the summer of 1900 at Brough, Westmorland. Census returns identify two children.

  • John Hilton (1901-1968)
  • Muriel Christina (1906-1992) – married Francis H Smart in 1929; married Ted Riggs in 1955.

William died on 21 June 1939 at Northampton, Northamptonshire.


  • 1892 Filey
  • 1893 retired
  • 1896 Whickhambrook
  • 1898 Brough
  • 1900 Helmsley
  • 1903 Bedale
  • 1909 Thirsk
  • 1910 Middleham
  • 1913 Bedale
  • 1916 Stokesley
  • 1919 Brough
  • 1921 Rhondda
  • 1925 Pilowell
  • 1927 Frome
  • 1929 Northampton (S)


Primitive Methodist Magazine 1925/520

Methodist Minutes 1939/220

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

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers


Note: Marriage and death records reveal that Clara married William H Livingstone in Brough in 1937, some two years before William died.

A search of the Divorce records held in the National Archives reveals that William divorced Clara in 1922. The co-respondent is named as Artno Ezra Grainger.


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