Tootill, Thomas Entwhistle (1822-1889)

Transcription of obituary published in the Primitive Methodist Magazine by George Lewins

Rev. T.E. TOOTILL, who has gone from our midst, has left behind him the savour of a good life, and it: is hoped that the remembrance of him may become a useful and creative force in the lives of others.

Mr. Tootill was Harwood, near Bolton, in the year 1822, and was brought up in a pious and devout household. His conversion and complete surrender of himself to Christ took place in his native town in the year 1839, when the Primitive Methodists first missioned the place. He connected himself at once with the church, and became one of its most useful and active members. Indeed, such was the value attached to his services in his native place, that after having spent some four years with the circuit in the capacity of a local preacher, and shown himself a most diligent student of the word, he was called by his native circuit into the regular ministry, and spent the first two years of his probation in it. His father and mother both having become members of our church opened their home for the ministers of the circuit, and in every possible way contributed to their comfort, and to the advancement of the interests of the station.

On his removal from Bolton, he was stationed for Chester, where he travelled twice, and where he made the acquaintance of Miss Williams, whom afterwards he married, and by whom he had two children, one of whom survives to mourn his loss.

Having found a true helpmeet in his wife, one who was prepared to share his sorrows and his joys so fully, it was not to be wondered at that after a very brief married life he should feel so keenly the bereavement he was called to suffer in her too early death. But,

‘The ills we see,
The mysteries of sorrow deep and long,
The dark enigmas of permitted wrong,
Have all one key,—
This strange sad world is but our Father’s school:
All chance and change His love shall overrule.’ 

His subsequent stations were Preston, Manchester, Leigh, Clitheroe, Chester (second time), St. Helens, and Staleybridge. In the last-named, he was compelled to retire on account of failing health. But for eighteen years his ministry was sustained with credit to himself and much good to the community at large. It was a great sorrow to him to have to relinquish the work he so deeply loved, but his voice was almost reduced to a whisper, and he felt that to continue would only be to waste the remaining energy of his life.

On his retirement many urged him to seek superannuation, but he said, ‘No. If I cannot do any service, I won’t be a burden to the funds. I will trust in Providence, and use the remaining energy to maintain myself in some other way.’ And this magnanimous spirit was fully rewarded. His health so far recovered as to permit him to enter into business. Just before his retirement he had married a second time, and he and his dear wife, who now mourns his loss, cast about to find some suitable opening, and for several years after they carried on a very successful drapery and millinery business in Ashton-under-Lyne, from which place, on their retirement, they came to Barrow-in-Furness fourteen years ago, and where he died on July 16th, 1889. No man could become associated with him either in business or as a friend without discovering that he possessed qualities of character which entitled him to respect and love.

For several years he has been entirely incapacitated for any work of the church, but for a considerable period after his retirement from the regular ministry, as opportunity occurred and his strength would permit, he devoted his energy and thought to the service of the church he so much loved.

There are two facts that men have to reckon with in the working out of life’s purpose. The one is that the warp of life is God’s universal gift to man, and the other is that the weft of life is of his own creation. The former consists partly of his intellectual and moral capacities, and of the circumstances into which he is born; and the latter arises out of the desires, purposes, and resolutions which he every day brings to bear upon those capacities and environments.

It is the heart that makes character beautiful; and personal character and disposition, rather than intellectual endowments, constitute the foundation of a man’s influence. In Mr. Tootill’s character there were blended humility, kindliness, and purity, which gave a charm to it; besides, there was underlying the whole of his mental phenomena a modest individualism which no one could fail to recognise. This was seen in everything he did and said. It was manifest in his faith in God, his inquiring spirit, his uniform kindness of heart, and his patience and quiet resignation to the will of God in his last affliction and death. It was the writer’s privilege to witness his end. He was conscious to almost the last, and it was truly delightful to hear him talking to what were doubtless visitants from the spirit land. To those who had been his companions in other days, we heard him saying, ‘I am coming.’ Death to him was not asleep, but a transition. That life of mortal breath was but the suburb of the life Elysian, whose portal we call death. Heaven is richer to those he leaves behind now that he is there.

‘Thy creature whom I found so fair,
I trust he lives in Thee, and there
I find him worthier to be loved.’


Thomas was born in 1822 at Harwood, Bolton, Lancashire, to parents Thomas, a grocer, and Elizabeth (Betty). He was baptised on 13 October 1822 at St Peter, Bolton-le-Moors.

Census return identify the following occupations for Thomas.

  • 1861 PM Minister at Ashton under Lyne
  • 1871 milliner & draper at Ashton under Lyne
  • 1881 grocery and provision dealer at Barrow in Furness

He married Margaret Williams (d1856) in the summer of 1852 in the Great Boughton Registration District (Chester), Cheshire. Census returns identify one  of two children.

  • Edward Thomas (1853-1929) – a baker & grocer (1911)

He married Ann Barnes (abt1821-1890) on 30 July 1860 at Katherine St PM Chapel, Ashton under Lyne, Lancashire.

Thomas died on 16 July 1889 at Barrow in Furness, Lancashire.


  • 1847 Bolton
  • 1848 Chester
  • 1849 Preston
  • 1850 Manchester I
  • 1851 Clitheroe
  • 1852 St Helens
  • 1853 Leigh
  • 1855 Chester
  • 1858 Stalybridge
  • 1861 retired ill


Primitive Methodist Magazine 1892/242

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

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

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