Fishlake History Society

Recording historical information before it disappears

Fishlake History Society

Recording historical information before it disappears

Primitive Methodism in Fishlake and Two Preachers.


Religious non conformity has long been a major feature of social history in South Yorkshire community non more so than in the low land parishes of Fishlake and Sykehouse. Amongst others Methodism became a very popular following from as early as the 1740's. By the early 19 th century Primitive Methodism began to emerge this quote from the website gives a brief background account of the phenomena.

"The Primitive Methodists were a major offshoot of the principal stream of Methodism - the Wesleyan Methodists - in 19th Century Britain.

In the early decades of the 19th century there was a growing body of opinion among the Wesleyans that their Connexion was moving in directions which were a distortion of, not to say a betrayal of, what John Wesley had brought to birth in the 18th century.

Eventually a Methodist preacher called Hugh Bourne became the catalyst for a breakaway, to form the Primitive Methodists. Probably 'primitive' was used to clarify their self-understanding that they were the true guardians of the original, or primitive, form of Methodism. The Wesleyans were nervous of direct political engagement.

By the end of the 19th century these two streams of Methodism realised they had more in common than they might have supposed. So conversations began which led to their being the two principal partners in the union to form the present-day Methodist Church in 1932."

Methodist Chapel Fishlake 1970s

Picture of chapel in Trundle Lane as it was in the 1970's. Build in 1890 replacing a much older building which stood close by, now a barn standing in the yard of the farmhouse on the corner of Dirty Lane and Trundle Lane.

Thanks to information passed to me by Joanne Clarke about her direct ancestors who were notable Primitive Methodist preachers.

Joseph Clarke 1835-1903.

J Clarke edited.

Taken from an obituary in the Primitive Methodist Magazine by J Wilson.

"Mr Clarke was born at Fishlake on February 21, 1835 and spent the greater part of his life in the same neighbourhood.

For some years his residence was at Sykehouse during which time a very gracious revival of religion took place and in this revival Mr Clarke took a deep interest. That he was a member and local preacher in our church for many years is clear from the fact that at the time of his death and for a number of years before his name stood at the top of the list of local preachers on the plan of his station. His regular attendance at the public means of grace both on Sunday and week evenings, was well known and highly thought of by the ministers and local preachers will conducted services in the chapel in which he worshipped. His generosity as shown by his giving to assist God's cause was a fine example to all.

His high esteem of ministers of the gospel was a very prominent feature in his case and especially the ministers of long ago; such devout and useful ministers of Jesus Christ as Thomas Kendall, James T Shepherd, Thomas Newsome and Thomas Whittaker,  holding a very high place in his thought and feeling.

The writer of this member for six years consecutively travelled in the Doncaster second station and as often as he visited Fishlake found a very hospitable home in the house and Mr Clarke I can testify concerning the kindness extend it to him by Mr and Mrs Clarke and the household.

He was a man who loved his bible and during the visits of the preachers delighted in Bible reading and in attend to the stock of Bible truth.

His regard for prayer was commensurate with regard for the Bible and nothing seem to delight in more than (after meals) to gather his numerous family for prayer.

His projected affection gave him opportunity for quiet meditation and we doubt not that as far as his severe afflictions allowed he used his opportunity well and left a good hope that when death came his departure to be with Christ. 

May his widow, sons and daughters meet the loved one in the home in which "there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, no crying, neither shall there be any more pain; for the former things are passed away."

Joseph died 2 December 1903 at Fishlake.

His family details are as follows.

Joseph was baptised on the 1 March 1835 at Fishlake, his parents were Thomas and agricultural labourer and Mary.

From the Fishlake census returns; 1851 farm servant, 1861 Carter, 1871 farmer 26 acres, 1881 farm labourer agricultural, 1891 hay trusser and primitive Methodist local preacher, 1901 farmer and Haycutter.

Joseph married Elizabeth Hurst 1844 -1909 on the 4th of June 1864 at Fishlake Yorkshire they had 11 children as follows:

John Thomas 1865 -1917 a Carter at colliery 1911.

Annie born about 1867 a dressmaker in 1911

Martin James 1868 -1937 a general labourer in 1911.

Mary Henrietta born 1870 to a domestic cook in 1901.

Lucy about 1875 -1886.

William Hirst 1877 -1922 general agricultural labourer in 1901 and carter in 1911.

Jane Ann 1880 - 1936. Married Jesse Harry Elliss in 1903, a traction engine driver in 1911, in 1903.

Sarah Elizabeth 1883 to 1960 married Robert J Booker hey and straw delivery in 1905.

Jesse born 1885.

Charles Hirst about 1890 to 1967 a carter in 1911.


His son (see below) James Martin Clarke 1868-1937 also practised as a Primitive Methodist preacher. However he was removed for marrying his sister in law after his first wife died.




Rob Downing February 2020.