Yearsley, Joseph (1849-1918)

Primitive Methodist Magazine 1907
Primitive Methodist Magazine 1919

Early years

Joseph was born in 1849 at Witton, Cheshire to parents William Yearsley and Ann Barton. William was a boiler-maker. After the death of his mother, when he was eleven, Joseph was cared for by his grandmother, who was a Primitive Methodist, and strongly influenced his youth.

Joseph was converted at the age of thirteen under the ministry of Rev Ambrose Kirkland. After an apprenticeship in the building trade as a joiner, Joseph was called to ministry and entered Sunderland Institute in 1870.


Joseph’s fervour and devotion made at once a deep impression when he was travelling on the Chester circuit. In the village of Ellesmere Port he would at times preach his way through the streets,. On one occasion a rough bargeman pushed his way through the crowd and insisted on kissing the preacher – the man who had been such a blessing to his soul.

Joseph has a conversational style of preaching that was all his own, as were the construction and delivery of his platform addresses, the touches of quaintness and the flashes of originality always wakened attention, whilst his bright humour and homely phrases quickly placed him en rapport with his audience. At times his soul would flame forth in spiritual passion, and the people caught the glow.

Joseph spent twenty-two years as District Building Committee Secretary, and was Secretary of the District Committee for five years. He was also Secretary of the Preachers Friendly Society. He was also secretary of Hartley College in its early days and was one of the staff of the “Primitive Methodist World”.

Joseph was Secretary of Conference in 1906.

Following his superannuation, Joseph undertook duties at Edenfield, Bury Circuit. He spent the whole of his ministry of forty-eight years within the borders of the Manchester District.


Joseph authored the following.

The coloured evangelist, or, a sketch of the life and work of Samuel J. C. Edwards, of West Indies , 1884


Joseph married Sarah Antliff (1845-1929) in the summer of 1874 at Sunderland, Co Durham. She was the daughter of William Antliff. Census returns identify five of six children.

  • William Antliff (1875-1936) – a fur buyer (1918)
  • Archibald Bradburn (1878-1949) – an accountant
  • James Cooper (1880-1968) – a commercial traveller (1918)
  • Florence Barton (b1883)
  • Eleanor Elizabeth (b1886)

Joseph died on 23 November 1918 at Edenfield, Lancashire.


  • Sunderland
  • 1871 Manchester IV
  • 1872 Chester
  • 1873 Manchester I
  • 1874 Manchester II
  • 1877 Newton & Hyde
  • 1880 Stockport II
  • 1884 Middleton
  • 1888 Helmshore
  • 1891 Manchester V
  • 1896 Oldham III
  • 1902 New Mills
  • 1907 Glossop
  • 1911 Oldham
  • 1916 Oldham (Sup)


Primitive Methodist Magazine 1907/843; 1919/202

PM Minutes 1919/294

B A Barber, A Methodist Pageant, 1932, p244

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

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers


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