Winton, William Richard de (1863-1903)

Transcription of obituary published in the Minutes of Conference by F.W. Ollis

W. R. DE WINTON was born at Grosmont, Monmouth, July 1st, 1863, and by his sudden death on Feb. 27th, 1903, the Primitive Methodist Church lost a fine man in the full vigour of manhood. Born of pious parents, who for many years were members of our Church, he was cradled in Primitive Methodism. His father’s house was one of the homes where services were held for many years, and Bro. de Winton often felt that the influence and power of these meetings were with him to the close of his life. 

At the early age of fourteen, he had to leave home and go to the city of Hereford to learn the trade of a carpenter, under Bro. J. Bradley, a Primitive Methodist local preacher in the Hereford Circuit. As a youth he was always susceptible to spiritual influences, and he was not long before he began to feel the force and beauty of a fine Christian life. His employer soon realised that he was a youth who was willing and generous, and the very soul of honour, and Bro. Bradley soon had the joy of seeing him led to Christ. After his conversion he soon attracted notice. His consistent life, and the promise of usefulness which he gave, led to his name appearing on the Hereford Plan as a local preacher. 

At the age of 19 he went to the Weobly Circuit as hired local preacher, where he stayed for six months, which was followed by twelve months in the Ripon Circuit, and then he was employed a short time under the Missionary Committee at London. He entered his probationary career at Longton, Staffs, where he travelled four and a half years, being ordained at Bradley Green, in the Tunstall District, in 1890. About this time he was united in marriage to Miss Isabel Scarr, of Colby Hall, Wensleydale, who proved herself to be, by her sympathy and kindness and love she bore to him, a most worthy partner in life’s work. After a brief stay at Shrewsbury, he removed to Chester, where he remained for the period of five years, and at the end of his fifth year he went to the Hetton Circuit. 

His work was always characterised by an intense devotion, and the arduous, unselfish character of his ministry was admired by all who knew him. His greatest work, however, was done in the Hetton Circuit. Of his work there too much cannot possibly be said; his democratic nature seemed to find a congenial atmosphere in the miner’s problems. He was not in this circuit long before his advice was eagerly sought on all social questions. His power as a platform speaker was well known all over the district. His meeting at the ‘Miners Hall,’ Hetton, for the Aged Miners, several times attracted the notice of the press. It was not long before he was returned as a County Councillor on the Durham County Council, where he always did his work faithfully and well. 

Bro. de Winton’s powers were not confined, however, to the platform and the social needs of man. He was a preacher in the pulpit, with a message for the spiritual side of a man’s life. His pulpit ministrations were marked by a deep evangelical tone. He believed in Christ with his whole heart, and felt that the greatest thing in solving the problems of life was the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He knew from his own experience that what man wanted was to ‘know Christ and the power of His resurrection.’ There was no uncertainty, no wavering in his conviction. He lived Christ, he preached Christ, and felt that the great work of a minister’s life was to lead souls to Calvary. It always gave him great joy to know that he had been the means of leading some soul to God. To this end he lived, striving hard, working faithfully, never sparing his physical strength or intellectual ability. Truly could it be said of him, ‘This one thing I do,’ and he was successful in the thing for which he lived. There are hundreds of people who have been led to Christ by him, and thank God for the life of Bro. de Winton. 

In business he was a shrewd man, having made a study of men and their ways. He ruled by kindness rather than severity. He was tolerant even to the most intolerant enemy. Rarely complaining, always anxious to believe the best about everyone, his love was expunge, pre-eminently one that, ‘Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.’ An ardent believer in the law of kindness, this was the spirit of the man. Perhaps at times some may have mistaken his kindness for weakness, but as the Rev. A.T. Guttery said, ‘he was a strong, manly man.’ 

Bro. de Winton’s death was not one of the ordinary kind; there was no pining sickness, no gradual weakening of physical and mental power, he was cut off in the midst of a strong, healthy, robust life during the early hours of Friday, Feb. 27th. The fall of a chimney and part of the roof, during a severe gale, completely suffocated him and injured his wife. The interment was a sight never to be forgotten

by those who saw it. The body was placed on view for two hours in the Hetton chapel, and hundreds of people walked past and viewed the corpse. The service was conducted by the Rev. F.W. Ollis; the Revs. M.T. Pickering, T.J. Watson, G.K. White, J. Richardson, A.T. Guttery, W.E. Crombie (General Committee representative), M. Johnson, and others, all taking part. There were also several of the Established Church clergy present. Thousands of people lined the road to the cemetery, and hundreds had to be turned away from the chapel. It was a wonderful tribute to the man’s character. To Mrs. de Winton the removal of her husband is a great blow, we pray that God may comfort and strengthen her.

Rest from thy labours, rest,
Soul of the just set free!
Blest be thy memory, and blest
Thy bright example be.


William was born on 1 July 1863 at Grosmont, Monmouthshire, to parents Thomas, a shoe maker, and Catherine.

He married Isabella Scarr (1852-1936) in the summer of 1890 in the Skipton Registration District, Yorkshire.

William died on 27 February 1903 at Hetton, Co. Durham.


  • 1886 Longton
  • 1890 Hadnall
  • 1891 Chester III
  • 1896 Hetton


PM Minutes 1903/40

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

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

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