Thomas Ritson Lay Preacher

Thomas Ritson, Methodist local preacher
provided by Neil Ritson 2022
Thomas Ritson long service recognition
Neil Ritson 2022

THOMAS Ritson was born on  13th April 1856 [or 1858] and baptized on the 14th May 1856 at Allendale, Northumberland. He died on 8th July 1941, at Priory Corner in the village of Lanercost, Cumberland aged 85.

Thomas Ritson’s great grandson, Dr. Neil Ritson who lives in New Zealand, has transcribed handwritten notes where his great grandfather describes his life in his own words.  It comes from an unknown, undated source and is photocopied in colour – brown paper with dark script, presumably pencil.

“Born at High Turney Shield West Allendale was early led to a knowledge of the truth as it is in Jesus. Joined the church at Limestone Brae passed my exam as a Lead ? Local ?Preacher before I was twenty years of age. I laboured in the Allendale circuit as a Local Preacher and class leader and Sunday School teacher. I spent  a number of years in the Allendale circuit them moved into the Haltwhistle circuit living at Coanwood. I laboured in this circuit a s a Local Preacher and Class Leader. I look back on many happy and Glorious times while Preaching in Haltwhistle circuit. Then I moved into the Brampton Circuit living at Gilsland.  I spent five very happy years at Gilsland as a Local Preacher and Class Leader. Then I moved on to a farm called The Heugh near Walton and then I and my family joined the chapel at ??Nickies? Hill. Now I have laboured in the Brampton circuit over thirty years and now settled down at Lanercost where I expect to spend the remainder of my days. Now I can say that it is religion that can give sweet pleasure while we live and solid comfort when we die”

 [Copied from original by Neil Ritson his Great Grandson 28th July 2022]

Neil was unsure as to which branch of Methodism Thomas belonged to, but there are two pieces of evidence that he was Wesleyan:

  1. the first chapel Thomas mentions, at Limestone Brae, was Wesleyan. The chapel still exists, although its use is not clear on Street View.
  2. when Thomas’ son, Neil’s grandfather, enlisted in the Border Regiment in 1915, he had a dog tag made for his wrist which specified Wesleyan Methodist!!

That said, Ritson is a very significant name in Primitive Methodism, especially in Northumberland and Cumbria.  Interestingly, the farm at Limestone Brae is now a Buddhist Priory called Throssel Hole,

Neil’s late uncle, George Armstrong Ritson, was continually involved in the Brampton Methodist church, regularly attended from childhood almost until his death aged 93 and helped raise funds for the new extension/hall.

Neil would very much like to know about the chapel transcribed as Nickies Hill.  The first word is very unclear but seems to end -als as in Arals.   Neil has looked  at the UK Landranger map 86 and can’t find anything similar though of course there are several places/farms with the name ’Hill” added or as part of the name.  Can you help?


Comments about this page

  • Coanwood had a Wesleyan Chapel and a Methodist Chapel, I wonder which one he was the preacher for

    By Richard Macdonald (02/04/2023)
  • Thanks Philip – duly noted.
    From the 1868 map, I later identified the Chapel he was based on as West Hall, though my relatives never mentioned it. I knew about Nickies Hill as they attended Chapel there, also Calees as I often passed it en route to my rellies. Interesting fact: Nickies Hill is a long way by road from The Heugh via Walton and when I asked him about it my Uncle George made hand signs as indicating a direct route: the crossing of the Cambeck (pronounced Cammock) river by parallel ropes. An interesting journey each Sunday (twice?) for the youngsters – and oldsters!

    By Neil Ritson (24/10/2022)
  • All Neil needs to do is visit the page about Nickies Hill chapel on this very site. It is near Walton, Brampton, across the road from Nickies Hill Farm, which is perhaps three quarters of a mile from Thomas Ritson’s farm, The Heugh. We are very fortunate that Thomas Ritson lived at the time of Methodist Union as we can find him on page 437 of the Methodist Local Preachers Who’s Who. This is available on our sister site “My Methodist History” but I have expanded the entry here:
    RITSON, Thomas. Born Allendale 1856. Education: Elementary school. Married: Margaret Armstrong. sons: 3 daughters: 2. Farmer (ret). Year accredited as a Local Preacher.: 1876. Current Circuit: Brampton. Church offices: Chapel Steward and Trustee [i.e. of Nickies Hill], Ex- Class Leader and Society Steward. Public offices Ex-Member of the Rural District Council. Address: Priory Corner, Lanercost, Brampton, Cumberland.

    The page on this site entitled Duties of a Wesleyan Steward explains the difference between the different roles.

    As the newspaper cutting mentions that Thomas had completed 55 years of service, and we are told (above) that he started in 1876, the cutting will be from about the time of Methodist Union, 1932.
    As the sources are post-Union we are not told to which branch of Methodism Thomas belonged, but Nickies Hill chapel was also Wesleyan.

    Although he does not mention it in his memoirs, Thomas Ritson appears to be another fine example of a Methodist who used public speaking and administrative skills acquired within the church in the wider world of local politics and administration.

    By Philip Thornborow (06/08/2022)

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