John was born on 15 November 1847 at Chacewater, nr Truro, Cornwall, to parents James Tonkin, a copper and tin miner (1861), and Eleanor Skewes. He was baptised on 24 March 1848 at Chacewater. Brothers Benjamin and William were also PM ministers who migrated to the Congregational ministry.
He married Annie Elizabeth Gauvain (1846-1919) of Alderney. Census returns identify eight children.
- John Gauvain (1873-1893) – a boy copyist (1891) – appointment in the London Gazette
- William Walke (abt1876-1928) – a head teacher (1911)
- Dennis Turnbull (1876- 1940) – a post office clerk (1911)
- Thomas Skewes (1879-1918) – died in WW1 with RAMC
- Annie Eleanor (b1880) – married William Joseph Beard, a retired electrical inspector (1939), in 1916
- Ethel Jane (1882-1897)
- Samuel Smithers (1884-1959) – a Congregational minister (1911)
- Theodora Mary (1887-1970) – married George Oscar Fieldgate, an Admiralty overseer (1939)
John died on 9 October 1903 at Rochester, Kent.
- 1868 Torquay
- 1869 Silchester
- 1870 Hammersmith
- 1871 Ramsgate
- 1872 Gloucester
- 1874 Bromyard
- 1875 Preston
- 1876 disappears
- 1878-1887 Ullesthorpe, Leics – Congregational minister
- 1887-1893 Strood, Kent
W Leary, Directory of Primitive Methodist Ministers and their Circuits, 1990
Surman index id 27373
Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers
Note: The Surman Index record indicates that John was at Hammersmith in 1867, Alderney in 1874, and also served in Cheltenham and Wrexham. He seems to have flitted between the Independent and PM ministries.