Watson, John D.D. (1832-1913)

Primitive Methodist Magazine 1896
Primitive Methodist Magazine 1902
Primitive Methodist Magazine 1913
Primitive Methodist Magazine 1902

Early years

John was born on 31 December 1832 in Ireshopeburn, Co Durham to parents Ralph and Jane. Ralph was the village cobbler. John followed the same trade as his father before entering the ministry.

John’s family had been connected with the Wesleyans from the time of John Wesley’s evangelistic tours.

John was a voracious reader all his life. He was converted aged 16 and joined the Wearhead church. He was soon a local preacher, labouring in this role for six or seven years, making a powerful impression. John received several calls to the itinerant ministry but turned them down due to domestic circumstances.


After entering the ministry at the relatively late age of 29, John spent the first seventeen years on home stations in the north of England. He then went overseas, initially to South Africa.

Following the loss of his sons in South Africa, John moved to Australia where the family was close to his wife’s sister. They returned to England in 1889 to be close to John’s mother.

John attended Conference on six occasions. He was Secretary of Conference in 1890 and President of Conference in 1895.

John was Principal of Manchester Theological College from 1893-97. He received an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from Victoria University, Toronto, Canada.

John was President of the Christian Endeavour Union 1901/2.


John authored the following.

The fatherhood of God , 1899


John married Mary Ann Phillips (1837-1868) on 11 July 1866. Mary was the daughter of Henry Phillips. She never recovered after a still birth in May 1868.

John married Eleanor Cook (1846-1901) in January 1870 at Newcastle upon Tyne. Eleanor’s mother was a sister of Joseph Spoor. Census returns identify two children. Two sons died in South Africa.

John died on 23 February 1913 at St Peter Port, Guernsey.


  • 1862 Westgate
  • 1866 Sunderland
  • 1868 Newcastle
  • 1870 Hartlepool
  • 1873 Spenymoor
  • 1877 N Shields
  • 1879 Aliwal North
  • 1883 Queenstown
  • 1884 Parkside
  • 1888 Adelaide
  • 1889 Chester I
  • 1893 Principal of TI
  • 1902 Lymm (Sup)


Primitive Methodist Magazine 1868/751 (Mary); 1896/3; 1902/917; 1902/944 (Eleanor); 1913/367; 1915/740

PM Minutes 1913/50

H B Kendall, Origin and History of the PM Church, vol 2, p454

B A Barber, A Methodist Pageant, 1932, p220

R Newman Wycherley, The Pageantry of Methodist Union, 1932, p177

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

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers


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