Wakefield, Harry (1894-1986)

Transcription of obituary published in the Minutes of Conference

HARRY WAKEFIELD: born at Audley, Staffordshire, on 4th September 1894 but spent his boyhood years in Kidsgrove. He began his working life with the local Co-operative Society but the call to the ministry was both loud and clear. Following his acceptance for the Primitive Methodist ministry in 1916 he joined the army and served in the First World War. On demobilisation he was sent for pre-collegiate service to the Gloucester and Cheltenham and Richmond (Yorkshire) circuits. His ministerial training was at Hartley College with additional missionary preparation at the Livingstone Medical College. 

After ordination he went to West Africa where he did pioneer work for over eleven years in the East Nigeria District. Using ministerial and medical skills he served the Nigerian people who completely won his heart. A severe attack of tropical asthma compelled him to return home without delay and he subsequently served in the Penrith (Sandgate Head), Liverpool (Everton Road), Liverpool (Mission), Liverpool (South) and Blackpool (South) circuits. 

His missionary experience. enriched the years of his ministry at home for his infectious enthusiasm in presenting the needs and triumphs of the work overseas created deep interest in all who heard him. In 1954 he received an urgent call to return to West Africa as Chairman of the Gambia District which was an appointment he held until his retirement in 1960. At a difficult time of increasing political unrest he drew upon his mature abilities and showed courage and insight as he initiated new ideas and programmes. He was a worthy man in a good succession. 

On his return from West Africa he moved to Lymm in the Warrington Circuit as an active supernumary and in 1963 he became the first Warden of Sunnyside, the Methodist International House in Liverpool. When he finally retired to Southport he continued to share the breadth of his experience and understanding of the World Church but also found personal satisfaction as a local hospital chaplain. 

His life was lived on a large map and the extent of his undiminished service will never be measured. He was a fine representative of the Christian ministry whose gifts of preaching, pastoral care and administration were wholeheartedly used. Small in stature, quiet and unassuming, his personality impressed itself upon all who knew him. From 1982 the closing years of his life were overshadowed by the loss of his wife, Winifred. They had married in 1925 and she had fully shared his ministry at home and abroad. Finally, health failed. He died at Connell Court, the Methodist Home for the Aged, in Southport, on 14th July 1986, in the ninety-second year of his age and the sixty-eighth of his ministry.


Harry was born on 4 September 1894 at Audley, Staffordshire, to parents Samuel Wakefield, a colliery dateler underground (1901), and Elizabeth Ann Wildblood.

Before entering the ministry Harry was apprenticed to a grocer (1911).

He married Winifred Rodgers Lawton (1903-1982) in the summer of 1925 in the Newcastle under Lyme Registration District, Staffordshire.

Harry died on 14 July 1986 at Southport, Lancashire.


  • 1919 Gloucester
  • 1920 Hartley
  • 1922 Livingstone College
  • 1923 E Nigeria
  • 1935 Penrith Sand
  • 1937 Liverpool Everton
  • 1941 Liverpool Mission
  • 1945 Liverpool South
  • 1950 Blackpool S
  • 1954 Gambia District
  • 1960 Lymm (Sup)


Methodist Minutes 1987/91

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

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

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