Watts, Nathaniel (1839-1914)

Primitive Methodist Magazine 1896

Early years

Nathaniel was born in 1839 at Kidderminster to parents William Watts and Elizabeth Cook. William was a PM Minister. His grandfather and father had been Wesleyans, but were expelled for sympathising with and helping the pioneers of Primitive Methodism at Bristol.

Nathaniel had the privilege a good education, attending Rugby Grammar School; no doubt this was a considerable sacrifice for his parents. He was converted at about 15 years old at Walkley in the Sheffield 1 circuit. He went on the plan at the age of 19 and was fully accredited within a year.

In 1861, three weeks after completing his apprenticeship, Nathaniel received a call from Rugby to work as a hired local preacher. He later moved to Newbury from where he was pledged.


Many of his circuits were extensive and laborious, but he cheerfully toiled in fields not always the most productive. Nathaniel had a natural taste for architecture and some knowledge of that profession. He prepared plans and specifications for a goodly number of chapels, schoolrooms, minister’s houses, etc. He undertook the duties of clerk of works in several erections, saving trustees and societies scores of pounds by his gratuitous services.

Nathaniel was naturally shy, diffident and his public work at first cost him much. He was not outstanding as a preacher; but as a faithful, whole-hearted, plodding pastor he had few equals. He was at his best in pastoral visiting.

He was essentially a man of peace, but never at the expense of principle, and could, where necessary, be firm and assertive.

After superannuation, Nathanial moved to Gorlaston, nr Great Yarmouth. In October 1909 he took pastoral charge of Malvern Church in the Worcester circuit. He finally moved to the Bromyard circuit in 1911 where he continued to carry out circuit preaching appointments without having any formal pastoral responsibilities.


Nathaniel married Caroline Vear (1844-1875) in late 1865 at Southampton, Hampshire. Census returns identify two children.

  • Elizabeth Ann (b1867)
  • Agnes (abt1870-1872)

Nathaniel married Mary Jane Keep (abt1853-1883) in early 1876 at Newbury, Berkshire.

Nathaniel married Julia Annie Cheshire (1860-1938) on 11 September 1884 at Islington, London. Census returns identify six children.

  • Ethel (1885-1911) – a schoolteacher
  • William John (1886-1918) – died in WW1 in France
  • Ida (1888-1926)
  • Edith (1889-1897)
  • Alfred Percy (1892-1975) – a teacher (1911)
  • Edgar (b1894) – a draper’s assistant (1911)

Nathaniel died on 11 November 1914 at Fernhill the Downs, Linton, Herefordshire.


  • 1861 Malmesbury
  • 1863 Poole
  • 1865 Motcombe
  • 1867 Salisbury
  • 1868 Cranborne
  • 1869 Brinkworth
  • 1872 Newbury
  • 1873 Wallingford
  • 1876 Cirencester
  • 1877 Hungerford
  • 1878 Sturminster
  • 1881 Aylesbury
  • 1884 Bottesford
  • 1886 Barrow in Furness
  • 1887 Wrexham
  • 1889 Abergavenny
  • 1890 Braintree
  • 1893 Buckingham
  • 1894 Banbury
  • 1896 Cwm
  • 1898 Leamington
  • 1900 Stroud
  • 1903 Droxford
  • 1905 Aylsham
  • 1908 Yarmouth (S)


Primitive Methodist Magazine 1896/563; 1915/246

PM Minutes 1915/51

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

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

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