Spencer, William Sunlay (1854-1920)

Primitive Methodist Magazine 1913
Primitive Methodist Magazine 1913

Early years

William was born on 25 March 1854 at Hull, Yorkshire. His parents moved to Australia in 1854, and a few years later to New Zealand. William returned to England at the age of twelve settling down in Kirton Lindsey, Lincolnshire. His parents were Anglicans and William was educated in their schools.

William was converted in the Scotter circuit under the ministry of Rev B Fell. He was soon authorised to preach and, after becoming a fully accredited local preacher,  was recommended for the ministry.


As a preacher, William was expository and evangelistic. He gleaned from many fields and was most painstaking in preparation, forceful in utterance, not declamatory, but quiet, persuasive and effective.

His obituary records that he excelled in pastoral work, and brought an atmosphere of worship as he visited.

William served as District Sunday School Secretary and Building Committee Secretary.

As a passive resistor, William heroically endured three terms of imprisonment.

William and his wife had the pleasure of touring Palestine, and the incidents of that visit were preserved in a lecture, which was widely delivered.


William married Ann Elizabeth Green (1858-1896) in the summer of 1881 at Boston, Lincolnshire. Census returns identify three children.

  • Annie (b1883) – married William Edward Priest, a grain dealer (1911)
  • Nellie (1886-1963) – a day school teacher (1911); married John Archibald Tingle in 1916, a PM Minister
  • William Green (1889-1941) – a PM Minister

William married Sarah Ellen Bell (b1867) in the summer 1897 at Basford, Nottinghamshire.

William died on 7 April 1920 at Rothwell, nr Leeds, Yorkshire.


  • Sunderland
  • 1877 Spalding
  • 1878 Boston
  • 1879 Nottingham III
  • 1881 Oakham
  • 1884 Clay Cross
  • 1887 Mansfield
  • 1890 Loughborough
  • 1893 Nottingham III
  • 1897 Melton Mowbray
  • 1898 Birmingham I
  • 1904 Northampton
  • 1906 Derby
  • 1909 Heckmondwike
  • 1913 Leeds IV
  • 1916 Rothwell


Primitive Methodist Magazine 1904/532; 1913/926; 1921/218

PM Minutes 1920/269

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

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

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