Wray, William (1838-1903)

Primitive Methodist Magazine 1890

Early years

William was born on 8 June 1838 at Kirmington, Lincolnshire to parents Thomas Wray and Jane Spalding.

William’s youthful years were spent with grandparents, Richard and Elizabeth Spalding, who were Primitive Methodists. They provided a home for visiting preachers. In 1851 he was working, aged 14, as a wheelwright.

William gave himself to Christ aged 19 through the ministry of Rev Henry Clark. A year later he was on the plan. William was recommended for the itinerant ministry by John Petty.


The 1890 biography records that, as a preacher, William was well informed in Biblical lore and Methodist theology. His sermons were well prepared, and were not few. He was ever practical, He never attempted to tickle the ears of his congregations, or to meet their soul-needs by giving them mere theoretical speculations. His purpose was to inform the mind, convince the thinker, build up the believer in all that is good, and win men from the service of Satan to that of Christ. His pulpit ministrations were characterised by forcefulness, meekness, faithfulness, and profit.

William was Building Committee Secretary in the Manchester District for 9 years and held the same role in the London 2nd District for 8 years. He was twice a General Committee Delegate and three times chair of the District Meeting.

To 1890, William was connected with the erection of 30 new chapels, 12 new schools and a further 12 chapel and school alterations costing over £55,000. In most cases, William prepared the plans and superintended the erection. William acted as Clerk of Works for the erection of the Manchester College.

William’s obituary records that William was a man of quiet bearing and few words, he possessed a big heart, had a quick, clear, sound judgement, an infinite capacity for detail, an aptitude for steady plodding industry, an incapacity for petty jealously or scheming for personal advantage.


William married Frances White Melson (1838-1887) in early 1864 on the Isle of Wight. Census returns identify two children.

  • Richard Spalding (1864-1889) – educated at Elmfield College
  • Annie Ruth (1869-1889)

William married Lydia Ann Seal (1865-1951) in late 1896 at Southwark, London. Census returns identify one child.

  • William Richard Spalding (1897-1979)

William died on 3 January 1903 at West Ham, Essex.


  • 1859 S Molton
  • 1860 Plymouth
  • 1861 Lutterworth
  • 1863 Ryde
  • 1864 Bagshot
  • 1866 Lancaster
  • 1868 Knowlwood
  • 1871 Cambridge
  • 1872 Southport
  • 1873 Manchester l
  • 1876 Manchester ll
  • 1879 Bolton l
  • 1882 Walworth
  • 1885 Forest Hill
  • 1890 Canning Town
  • 1897 Walworth
  • 1899 Rotherhythe


Primitive Methodist Magazine 1889/628 (Frances); 1890/321

PM Minutes 1903/42

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 22 December 2017 to add a transcription of William’s obituary published in the Primitive Methodist Magazine 1904.

    By Geoff Dickinson (22/12/2017)

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