Witty, Joseph Reed (1902-1952)

Transcription of obituary published in the Minutes of Conference

JOSEPH REED WITTY: born at Sunderland in 1902. He owed much to Christian parents. After training at Hartley College, he went to Great Yarmouth in 1926, where he spent the four years of his probation. Then he was at Sheffield (Petre Street), Chester-le-Street, Mansfield, and Church Gresley. On the death of his superintendent minister at Church Gresley he carried on the work of the circuit with great distinction and devotion. But in the summer of 1950 he had a very serious operation from which he never fully recovered, and after a year at St. Helens he had to become a supernumerary. This long illness he faced very bravely and with fine faith. Until the Conference, he hoped to return to active work in 1952, and though this was physically impossible, it was typical of him that he should always seek to be of service. 

His mental alertness was amazing: he read widely and retained what he read. Children loved him, and his addresses and his influence endured. His was a teaching ministry, though he was also rich in other aspects of ministerial life. He had his own brand of quiet humour, was a loyal friend, and a lovable colleague. Those in distress found it easy to speak to him, and were helped by him. His unassuming goodness, his generosity, his utterly devoted life will long be remembered with gratitude to God. 

He died on November 20, 1952, in the twenty-seventh year of his ministry and the fifty-first of his age.


Joseph was born on 23 August 1902 at Sunderland, Co. Durham, to parents Robert Witty, an assurance agent (1911), and Mary Dorothy Swan.

Before entering the ministry Joseph worked as cost clerk (1921).

He married Mary Bubb (1904-1991) in the summer of 1930 at Sunderland, Co. Durham. Birth records identify three children.

  • John (b1931)
  • Elizabeth Wendy (b1935) – married John V Carruthers in 1955
  • Monica Heather (b1939) – married John E Stanley in 1960

Joseph died on 20 November 1952 in the Bucklow Registration District, Cheshire.


  • Hartley
  • 1926 Gt Yarmouth
  • 1930 Sheffield III
  • 1934 Chester le Street
  • 1938 Mansfield
  • 1944 Church Gresley
  • 1950 St Helens
  • 1951 St Helens (Sup)


Methodist Minutes 1953/133

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

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

Comments about this page

  • My Dad’s lifelong best friend was Bob Witty in Sunderland. His father was Rev Robert Witty who for over 30 years was minister at Willmore Street Church Sunderland. I think that Bob was the brother of Joseph Reed.

    I have researched the life of the Rev Witty. My wife’s grandmother was a great friend of Rev Witty’s wife.

    By Derek Holcroft (06/02/2024)

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