Warner, George (1829-1899)

Primitive Methodist Magazine 1878
George Warner's signature from Bramwell Hill's autograph book, 1918
CHristopher Hill 2020

Early years

George was born on 8 November 1829 at Southam, Warwickshire to parents John and Mary. He was baptised on 6 December 1829 at Southam.

George was converted in 1848 at a Wesleyan Chapel near Worcester. When he moved back home, he joined the Primitive Methodists at Napton. He was soon on the plan and called to ministry by the Banbury circuit in 1851.


A hint of George’s style comes through the description of his work at Malmesbury in Kendall; ‘…as late as 1854, Malmesbury at last yielded to the vigorousassaults of George Warner, and in 1858 was made a circuit.

George was the first entirely connexionally supported evangelist, a benefactor named T. Jones gave £100 to inaugurate his career as a holiness evangelist. George had a vision to unite the call to salvation with the challenge of holiness. Speaking of the relationship of faith to full salvation George said, ‘It is like a man under a shower-bath. He pulls the chain and down comes the water‘.

Thomas Waugh was typical in denouncing questionable amusements such as gambling anddancing. A spirit-filled church, as he put it, is ‘world-emptied’. The principle of avoiding popular forms of entertainment was widespread in Evangelicalism as a whole, but holiness zealots could apply it particularly sternly. Thus George Warner, the leading holiness preacher among the Primitive Methodists, always regarded simple musical services as dangerous.

Perhaps the most challenging of the campaigns against worldliness was the one against smoking. The King’s Highway carried in 1882 an article from an American counterpart urging the abandonment of tobacco and Warner frequently denounced its use. The tobacco habit and appetite were alike inconsistent with holiness, he insisted; he himself had renounced the habit and God had destroyed the appetite. In several of Warner’s missions smokers abandoned their pipes, one local preacher giving it up during the singing of ‘My all is on the altar’.

Sir Henry Thompson performed surgery on George and remarked on the state of his knees. George told him that night after night on his knees in prayer and reading the scriptures had produced a particularly painful problem.

After he superannuated in 1891, George continued to work as a special agent at Nottingham, Bristol, Barnoldswick and Settle, where he died.

Rev I E Page writes in his obituary; ‘He was a typical Primitive Methodist, a fervid, happy saint with glory in his soul. He had a passion for saving men, and for leading believers into Christ’s full salvation, and God used him to save many – ‘Gypsy’ Smith (in1876) among others.’


George wrote the preface to Asa Mahan’s ‘Christian perfection’.


George married Mary Anne Humphries (1831-1887) in the summer of 1855 at Cricklade, Wiltshire. Census returns identify one child.

  • George (b1858)

Visited Australia & NZ circa 1888 and remarried to Charlotte MaCartney (1854-1943) on 9 October 1889 at Hobart, Tasmania. Charlotte was born in Belfast, Ireland. Census returns identify two children.

  • Georgina Helen (1891-1984) – married Howard Dobson
  • Dara (b1893)

George died on 14 April 1899 at Settle, Yorkshire.


  • 1851 Banbury
  • 1853 Brinkworth
  • 1857 Marlborough
  • 1860 Sturminster
  • 1862 Oxford
  • 1864 Banbury
  • 1867 Belfast
  • 1870 Plymouth
  • 1871 Exeter
  • 1872 Tottenham
  • 1873 Knighton
  • 1874 London
  • 1876 GMC Agent
  • 1878 Special Evangelist
  • 1886 Ryde & Ventnor
  • 1889 Marden
  • 1890 Torquay
  • 1891 Brinkworth (S)
  • 1896 Nottingham lll
  • 1897 Nelson


Primitive Methodist Magazine 1878 (portrait); 1887/372; (Mary Anne); 1899/945; 1906/542

PM Minutes 1899/23

PM World 1899, p 303, p326, p702

H B Kendall, Origin and History of the PM Church, vol 2, p 315

Joseph Ritson, The Romance of Primitive Methodism , 1909, p127

B A Barber, A Methodist Pageant, 1932, p66

William Kostlevy (ed), Historical Dictionary of the Holiness Movement

John Stephenson, The Man of Faith and Fire, or, the life and work of the Rev. G. Warner, (1902)

D W Bebbington,‘The Holiness Movements in British and Canadian Methodism in the late nineteenth century’, Wesley Historical Society Lecture October 1996, Vol 50, http://www.biblicalstudies.org.uk/pdf/whs/50-6.pdf

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

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers



Comments about this page

  • I’ve been ploughing through chapel openings in the Primitive Methodist magazine, most recently from 1878 – 1885. The entries follow a pattern, and more often than not the list of foundation stone laying and chapel openings would be preceded by a report on where George Warner had been evangelising.

    And today, because it’s a bit cold, I’ve been working through boxes of old family material and discovered an autograph book belonging to my uncle, W Bramwell Hill, which contained George Warner’s autograph. The entry is dated 1918, and as George had been dead for some 19 years then, the signature was second hand, from one of his letters. It had been provided by his niece, Mrs A Fenemore of Curbridge, Witney.

    George shares the autograph book page with Bramwell Booth. I’ve added a scan to this page.

    By Christopher Hill (10/05/2020)
  • This page was modified on 22 May 2018 to add a transcription of the article published in the Primitive Methodist Magazine 1906. It is interesting in that the author suggests reasons why the evangelism model used in the early years of the connexion was running out of steam in the latter years of the 19th Century.

    By Geoff Dickinson (22/05/2018)

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