Ward, William James (1872-1946)

W J Ward, Hull, c1904
Englesea Brook Museum 10.04
Primitive Methodist Magazine 1922
Primitive Methodist Magazine 1922

Early years

William was born in 1872 at Guisborough, Yorkshire, to parents William and Mary Ann. William, senior, was an iron miner (1881). His paternal grandfather was one of the early local preachers in the PM denomination.

At the age of eleven, William won a scholarship to Middlesbrough High School. He entered the teaching profession and soon became second assistant-master of the school. Then came the call to ministry. He secured a place on the Reserve List and was sent straight to Tipton in the year 1892.


William spent three strenuous terms in West Africa, and would have returned for a fourth had not the doctor refused his sanction. William was the first European missionary at Jamestown, and founded the Institute at Oron.

William spent five years as Secretary of the Young People’s Missionary Department and in 1924 became Financial Secretary of the Missionary Society.

Post Methodist Union, William became Chairman of the Wolverhampton and Shrewsbury District. In 1938, William went as Superintendent to Grove Place circuit, Jersey. During the difficult and dangerous years of German occupation, his strong sympathetic personality, and his wide experience, stood his people in good stead. He was a man of strong convictions, a loyal friend, a wise counsellor, and above all a man of faith.


William authored the following.

God’s black diamonds: chats with boys and girls about their dusky kinsfolk in Africa

In and around the Oron country; or, the story of Primitive Methodism in Southern Nigeria


William married Martha Ann Sale (b1872) in early 1897 at Walsall, Staffordshire. Census returns identify two children.

William died on 25 December 1946 at Rothwell, Leeds, Yorkshire.


  • 1893 Tipton
  • 1894 Market Rasen
  • 1897 Archibongville
  • 1898 Hornsea
  • 1900 Jamestown
  • 1902 Hull VI
  • 1905 Calabar
  • 1907 Leicester III
  • 1908 Middlesbrough
  • 1912 Cleethorpes
  • 1919 Grimsby I
  • 1921 Darlaston
  • 1924 H Mission Secretary
  • 1929 Bournemouth
  • 1932 Cannock
  • 1933 Wolverhampton
  • 1938 Jersey Grove
  • 1945 Leeds Rothwell


Primitive Methodist Magazine 1919/388; 1922/668

Methodist Minutes 1947/137

R Newman Wycherley, The Pageantry of Methodist Union, 1932, p342

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

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers



Comments about this page

  • This page was modified on 8 January 2018 to add a transcription of an interview with William Ward, as he embarked on his third visit to carry out missionary work in Africa, published in the Primitive Methodist Magazine 1905.

    By Geoff Dickinson (09/01/2018)

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