Wilkinson, James (1905-1995)

Transcription of obituary published in the Minutes of Conference

JAMES WILKINSON: born in Preston on 30th October 1905 to a family with long involvement in both Primitive and Wesleyan Methodism. His schooling was in Walton, Liverpool, where he ran as a telegraph boy during the First World War. He began work as a junior clerk with the Liverpool Cold Storage Company and after candidating from Ormskirk went to Hartley Victoria College in 1926. He served as a probationer in the Whitehaven circuit. In 1933 he married Gladys who was a strong friend and partner in home and in ministry throughout her life. 

They moved to Richmond, Surrey, where Jim served twelve months as Superintendent; then to the Leominster circuit — a last minute appointment after the luggage had gone elsewhere! In the Birmingham (Smethwick, Broomfield) circuit during the war years he served as Mayor’s Chaplain and Chief Firewatch Officer. Appointments  followed in the Warrington; Fleetwood; Liverpool (South); and St Helens and Prescot circuits, in the last of which responsibilities included building the new Eccleston Church. He retired from the Haslingden circuit to Heswall, Wirral, in 1970. 

Jim was gifted with an excellent memory and a clear mind. Eagerness to keep up his reading gave a freshness and breadth to his preaching. He wrote several books that illustrate his deep concern to communicate a practical everyday faith. He loved music, a quiet ‘smoke’ and time to watch a good cricket match, especially Lancashire County. He had a modest demeanor, a lasting and practical care for others and a fund of good stories and jokes to share. After the death of his wife in 1975 he lived alone in spite of becoming blind. He remained cheerful and took pleasure in following the fortunes of his son and daughter-in-law, their three sons and his great-grandchildren, moving to their family home in 1992. 

The text of his last sermon, preached in 1986, evidenced his own quiet purposeful trust in God – ‘Thou dost keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee.’ He died on 20th December 1995 in the ninety-first year of his age and the sixty-seventh year of his ministry.


James was born on 30 October 1905 at Preston, Lancashire, to parents John Wilkinson, a cloth worker (1911), and Mary Davis.

He married Gladys Annie Lee (1900-1975) on 12 August 1933 in the Ormskirk Registration District, Lancashire. Birth records identify one child.

  • John Lee (b1934)

James died in December 1995 in  the Birkenhead Registration District, Wirral.


  • Hartley
  • 1929 Whitehaven
  • 1933 Richmond, Surrey
  • 1934 Leominster
  • 1937 Smethwick &c
  • 1948 Warrington
  • 1953 Fleetwood
  • 1959 Liverpool S
  • 1963 St Helens &c
  • 1967 Haslingden
  • 1970 Haswell (S)


Methodist Minutes 1996/???

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

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

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