Who was William Morley Punshon?

Born in 1824 in Doncaster, the son of a draper, William Morley Punshon trained at Richmond College and was ordained into the Wesleyan Methodist ministry in 1849.  His first appointment had been at Marden in Kent in 1845, and following ordination he served in a number of circuits, including in London.

During the 1850s he established a  high reputation as a public speaker.  An indication of his oratory was the collection after one of his sermons in Wesley’s Chapel in City Road which amounted to £2079.

In 1861 he helped to establish and edit the ‘Methodist Recorder’.

Over five years in the early 1860s he raised over £10,000 for the Watering Places Chapel Fund, which assisted in the building of 24 chapels in resorts in England and Wales, including Folkestone, Weymouth, Matlock, Bath, Lytham, Rhyl, Llandudno and Aberystwyth as well as our own church in Malvern.

‘It may be said that this movement constituted a new departure in Wesleyan chapel building in England.  These chapels, almost without exception, are elegant specimens of architecture and a permanent adornment of these charming ... resorts.’

[Quoted from a review of

F. W. Macdonald’s life of

William Morley Punshon]

In 1868 he went to Chicago as British representative of the Wesleyan Conference and settled in Canada.  Here, in that year, he married Fanny Vickers, the sister of his first wife (who had died in 1858).  Such a marriage was then forbidden in English law, but accepted in Canada.  Fanny, however, died in childbirth in 1870.  He was five times President of the Canadian Conference, and did much to aid the development of the Methodist Church in Canada.

He returned to England in 1874 and the same year became President of the Conference.  Subsequently he was head of the Home Mission department and a secretary of the Foreign Mission Society.  He was one of the main advocates of admitting lay representatives to the Conference.

He died in London in April 1881.