Watkins, John Henry (1893-1966)

Transcription of obituary published in the Minutes of Conference

JOHN HENRY WATKINS: born at Blackheath, Staffs, in 1893 of godly Primitive Methodist parents to whose influence he often bore tribute. He entered Hartley College, Manchester, in 1914, but left a year later to enlist in the R.A.M.C. Welsh Students’ Regiment and served in the Balkan Campaign until February 1919, without a leave. One of his treasures was a rosary given to him by a Serbian soldier whose life he saved. After returning to Hartley College to complete his training he began his ministry in Bolton in 1920, continuing it in Witney, Burnley, Helmshore, Heckmondwike, Harrow, Northampton, Letchworth, and Stoke-on-Trent, from which he retired in 1957. Then followed an active supernumeraryship at Laindon and Letchworth until 1963 when he entered into full retirement at Exmouth where his friendly spirit, ready wit, and manifest sincerity quickly won him a place in many hearts. 

As a preacher he was in great demand and he had the rare gift of appealing to all ages alike. He knew how to relate the eternal truths of the Gospel to the affairs of the present moment and his Welsh accent added charm to his words. He never sent his hearers away unsatisfied. Not only had he an informed and alert mind and was exceptionally well read, but he also could express himself in lucid English and was for many years a book-reviewer for the Methodist Recorder. Brotherly in spirit, he loved his Brethren and enlivened many a Fraternal with his sage comments. 

In his younger days he delighted to wander on the fells with companionable friends and to his love of nature he added an appreciation of good music. Though he seldom spoke about himself nobody could be in his company long without realising that he knew what it was to walk with God and that the things that are lovely and of good report were his meat and drink. He preached his last sermon within a few days of his sudden death which came on 9 June 1966, in the seventy-fourth year of his age and the fiftieth of his ministry.


John was born on 6 June 1893 at Blackheath, Staffordshire, to parents William, a general dealer’s traveller (1901), and Hannah.

He married Lilian Elizabeth Lloyd (1889-1981) in the spring of 1920 in the Stafford Registration District, Staffordshire. Birth records identify two children.

  • John C (b1921)
  • Christine L (b1923)          

John died on 9 June 1966 at Exmouth, Devon.


  • 1915 H.M. Forces
  • 1919 Hartley
  • 1920 Bolton I
  • 1924 Witney
  • 1927 Burnley II
  • 1931 Helmshore
  • 1935 Heckmondwike
  • 1940 London Harrow
  • 1946 Northampton Ket
  • 1952 Letchworth
  • 1956 Stoke Burslem
  • 1957 Exmouth (Sup)


Methodist Minutes 1966/218

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

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

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