Wildbur, William


The following is a transcription of the paragraph in Petty that refers to William Wilbur.

“Turning to Nottingham district, we find but little to record during this year (1821/2). The mission in Norfolk experienced some reverses through the unfaithfulness of W. Wildbur, one of the missionaries, a man of feeble powers and of superficial piety. The mission had prospered greatly, and several branches had been formed which promised to become fruitful fields of labour; but Mr. Wildbur became dissatisfied with the authorities of Nottingham cireuit, and by misrepresentation sought to enlist the travelling preachers in the Norfolk branches in his efforts at insubordination and misrule. In October, 1822, he declared himself independent of Nottingham circuit, and apparently expected a large party to unite with him in his divisive measures. But Messrs. Charlton and Whitby were sent from Nottingham into Norfolk to investigate the affairs, and by the blessing of God upon their efforts they were successful in preserving most of the societies, and in making satisfactory arrangements for their establishment and future prosperity. Mr. Wildbur, however, secured for himself the preaching room at Lynn, and prevailed upon above seventy members to secede with him, and attempted to scatter the rest. For being the head of a separate society he was utterly incompetent, and his cause shortly came to nothing, and many of those whom he had induced to unite with him became immoral and profane. But the societies which remained in connection with the Primitive Methodists speedily recovered the shock which Mr. Wildbur’s improper proceedings had produced, and the missions appear to have been greatly extended. At the conference of 1822 we find only eleven travelling preachers for Nottingham circuit, but at the ensuing conference the number had increased to twenty, and it is probable that most of these additional preachers were employed in Norfolk. The members in Nottingham circuit, including those in the Norfolk and other branches, amounted to 3,636 at the conference of 1823.”


William was born in 1768 at Newport Pagnell, Buckinghamshire. He moved to Leicester when he was about two years old.

Following his conversion he was a Wesleyan local preacher for several years before he joined the Primitive Methodists.

He married Elizabeth Frost on 27 July 1789 at All Saints, Derby. The marriage record identifies his occupation as framework knitter. From the extracts of his journal (see attachment) it is clear that he had several children with Elizabeth.

He married Susanna Rose Forshaw (1809-1875) on 7 November 1831 at All Saints, South Lynn, Norfolk. The 1851 census return records William as a gardener. Census returns identify five children.

  • Sarah (1832-1883) – married Thomas Preston, a greengrocer, in 1867
  • Caroline (1834-1918) – married John Setchell, a cocoa mat maker (1861), in 1855
  • William (1836-1894) – a rope maker (1871)
  • Thomas (1838-1918) – a rope maker (1871)
  • Richard (b1840) – a general labourer (1871)

William died in the spring of 1853 at Kings Lynn, Norfolk.


  • 1821 Nottingham
  • 1822 ceased


Primitive Methodist Magazine 1821/56

J Petty, The History of the Primitive Methodist Connexion, 1880, p173

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

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers


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