Whittaker, Thomas D.D. (1831-1902)

photo taken in South Shields
Englesea Brook Museum 10.04
Primitive Methodist Magazine 1877
Primitive Methodist Magazine 1888
Primitive Methodist Magazine 1903

Early years

Thomas was born on 15 February 1831 at Carlton, nr Goole, Yorkshire. His father was a farmer, who gave him the best education which the neighbouring village afforded. Preaching services were held in his father’s house and local preachers and itinerants often stayed overnight. A chapel was built in his father’s stackyard in 1844.

Thomas was converted at the age of 16 and called to preach within a few months. In April 1850, his itinerant ministry began when he covered for an afflicted minister at Bridlington.


Up to 1877, he was directly concerned with the building/enlargement of 18 chapels.

Thomas was Secretary of Conference at Hull in 1874 and was President of Conference in 1888.

He held the position of General Sunday School Secretary for five years.

His obituary records that as a preacher he was evangelical, and whilst not ignorant of the higher criticism, which has given much truth and some vagaries, he stood at the centre, always under the Cross in which he gloried.

His work as a Methodist minister was recognised by Gale University with the award on an honorary D.D.


Thomas authored the following.

Closet prayer (1867)

Parental Responsibility

Memorials of Rev E Morris

Cause and cure of small increases in Methodist bodies (1869)

The Methodist class meeting, and how to make it more attractive and profitable.

Red lights on the steps of the sanctuary, or, reasons why religious people should be total abstainers (1882)

Life’s battles in temperance armour (1892)


Thomas married Mary Ann Southwick (1831-1919) in the summer of 1855 at Hornsea, Yorkshire. Census returns identify seven children.

  • Ada Marian (1858-1869)
  • Marietta Augusta (1859-1944) – married Fred Grant, a master builder
  • Thomas (b1862)
  • Eva Hester (b1864)
  • Sidney Ernest (b1869) – an insurance agent
  • Reginald (1870-1872)
  • Winifred Mabel (1873-1961)

Thomas died on 8 October 1902 at Stretford, Manchester.


  • 1851 Hornsea
  • 1852 Driffield
  • 1853 Hull l
  • 1855 Hull ll
  • 1856 Louth
  • 1857 Spilsby
  • 1859 Market Rasen
  • 1861 Hornsea
  • 1863 Scotter
  • 1867 Doncaster
  • 1870 Scarborough
  • 1873 Hull lll
  • 1876 Hull l
  • 1879 Grimsby ll
  • 1883 Agent of SSU
  • 1887 Manchester lV
  • 1890 Bridlington
  • 1894 Scarborough ll
  • 1899 Hull V
  • 1902 Manchester V


Primitive Methodist Magazine 1877/65; 1888/577; 1903/825; 1924/753

PM Minutes 1903/36

J Petty, The History of the Primitive Methodist Connexion, 1880, p507

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

B A Barber, A Methodist Pageant, 1932, p230

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

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers



Comments about this page

  • This page was modified on 23 October 2017 to add a transcription of Thomas’ obituary published in the Primitive Methodist magazine 1903.

    By Geoff Dickinson (23/10/2017)
  • The book ‘Life’s Battles in Temperance Armour’ is an autobiographical account of the life of another Thomas Whittaker, b1813, a temperance lecturer and eventually Mayor of Scarborough

    By Stephen Orchard (27/01/2016)

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