Rev Owen Spencer Watkins (1873-1957)

a pioneer Wesleyan chaplain

A recent article in the Methodist Recorder Soldiers and preachers too (MR October 16 2015, p14) makes reference to a new entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography by Rev Dr Peter Howson on the Wesleyan minister Owen Spencer Watkins, “a significant figure in the development of Methodist chaplaincy.”

Watkins was born February 28th 1873, the son of Rev Owen Watkins, himself a pioneer: in the Central African mission field where he went later in 1873 to organize the Transvaal and Swaziland District and found the mission in Rhodesia before returning home in 1893.

O.S. Watkins entered the ministry in 1896, and spent his entire ministry with the armed forces: in Malta, Crete, the Sudan, South Africa, London Garrison, the Western Front, and Italy. After the First World War he was appointed Assistant Chaplain General, and then Deputy Chaplain General. From 1928 to 1939 he was a padre with Toc H.

He wrote four books about his experiences:

With Kitchener’s Army; being a chaplain’s experiences with the Nile expedition, 1898 (1899)

Chaplains at the Front: incidents in the life of a chaplain during the Boer War, 1899-1900 (1901)

Soldiers and Preachers too: being the romantic story of Methodism in the British army … (1906)

With French in France and Flanders:being the experiences of a chaplain attached to a field ambulance  (1915)

An electronic copy of this last can be found at


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