Watts, William (1809-1886)

Primitive Methodist Magazine 1859
Copy Provided by Steven Carter

Early Years

William was born on 29 September 1809 at Bedminster, Somerset. His parents were Wesleyans and had a comfortable income. As a result William was well educated for the time. When aged about 17, he connected with a Wesleyan society in Bristol and became a local preacher. When two PM Missionaries came to Bristol in 1833 (S West and S Turner) William and his father provided hospitality. William started to assist the PM Missionaries as well as carrying out his Wesleyan commitments. After some months, and acrimonious discussions with the Wesleyans, William joined the Primtive Methodists. The two missionaries recognised his usefulness and recommended William to the Brinkworth circuit as an itinerant minister.


Williams first year in Kidderminster was particularly difficult. The station had not funds to pay him and suggested hospitality following the ‘American Plan’ albeit staying with people for one day at a time instead of a month. This meant that on many occasions he went without food.

William’s obituary records; ‘He was of a cheerful and peaceable disposition, and when opposed by men of the baser sort, as he frequently was, he would speak to them kindly and try to allay their irritation and overcome their hostile feelings, by speaking soft and soothing words to them, believing with Solomon that a soft answer would turn away wrath.’


William was married to Elizabeth Cook (1805-1876) on 11 July 1838 at St James, Bristol, Gloucestershire. Census returns identify three children.

  • Nathaniel (1839-1914) – a PM Minister
  • Priscilla (1840-1906) – married Isaac Rains Barnsley, a PM Minister
  • Cornelius (1843-1920)

William married Ellen Bursnall, nee George (1843-1919) in mid-1879 at Melton Mowbray. Census returns identify one son.

  • Theophilus (1880-1973) – a colliery book-keeper in 1911

William died on 3 May 1886 at Ecclesfield, Yorkshire.


  • 1835 Darlaston
  • 1837 Kidderminster
  • 1839 Bishops Castle
  • 1841 Birmingham E
  • 1844 Nottingham
  • 1846 Horncastle
  • 1849 Sleaford
  • 1850 Rugby
  • 1852 Rotherham
  • 1854 Sleaford
  • 1855 Winster
  • 1858 Donington
  • 1860 Melton Mowbray
  • 1862 Hinckley
  • 1865 Winster
  • 1868 Eakring
  • 1871 Bottesford
  • 1873 Melton Mowbray
  • 1876 Melton Mowbray (S)
  • 1880 Sheffield ll


Primitive Methodist Magazine 1859/449; 1886/563

PM Minutes 1886/17

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

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

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