Baxter, Matthew (1812-1893)

Primitive Methodist, Independent Primitive Methodist, President of the Wesleyan Methodist Association, United Methodist Free Church missionary

Rev. Matthew Baxter, President of the WMA Assembly 1856
Wesleyan Methodist Association Magazine, 20, September 1857

Elizabeth Hanley contacted the editors to say that “after accessing your website, and reading of Matthew Baxter’s short ministry as a Primitive Methodist minister, I wanted to offer some information for you to update the information you have on Rev Matthew Baxter. Matthew was my great-great grandfather and I have taken great interest in his history. He was born in Alston a lead mining area. Mining villages were influenced by the visit of John Wesley with many families becoming Methodists. Alston still has evidence of two of the meeting sites although today they meet in the Catholic church of Our Lady and St Michael.  Matthew’s daughter Eleanor married Rev. Wilkinson Matthews, and Margaret Jane married Rev. John Jeffree Pendray.”

Revd Matthew Baxter’s circuits

1830 Received on Probation in the Primitive Methodist connexion.

1830-31 Probation in Hull then converted under John Fleshner

1834 entered ministry Scarborough – 2 years Primitive Methodist

1836 Became an Independent Primitive Methodist

1836 Scarborough – 2 years Independent Primitive Methodist

1838 Northwich – 3 years Wesleyan Methodist Association

1841 Leeds, Lady Lane – 1 year WMA

1842 January sailed to Kingston Jamaica on the Mary Jones with Thomas Pennock, WMA missionary

Matthew stayed in Kingston for 9 years and returned to England due to poor health.

1851 Scarborough – 1 year WMA

1852 Sunderland South – 3 years WMA

1855 London – 5 years WMA/UMFC

1856 President WMA

1857-59 Connexion Editor and Book Steward UMFC

1860 Sunderland South– 2 years UMFC

1860 Annual Assembly Secretary UMFC

1862 Heywood – 2 years UMFC

1864 Burnley – 4 years UMFC

He was also a member of the Connexional Committee 1840-41, 1852, 1854-1867

1868 Matthew and family immigrated to New Zealand aboard the Gainsborough arriving on 2 May 1869.

1869 Christchurch St Asaph – 5 years UMFC

Whilst at St Asaph chapel Matthew mentored John Jeffree Pendray during his probationary period.

1873 Christchurch St Asaph (Supernumerary) – 3years UMFC

1876 Oxford and Malvern (Supernumerary) – 8 years UMFC

1884 Richmond Christchurch (Supernumerary) – 4 years UMFC

1888 Oxford (Supernumerary) – 5 years UMFC

Geoff Dickinson adds:


Matthew was born on 1 June 1812 at Alston, Cumberland, to parents John and Rebecca. He was baptised on 24 January 1814 at Alston.

He married Eleanor Evans (1806-1893) on 28 March 1831 in Scarborough, Yorkshire. Genealogical sources identify seven children.

  • Robert William (1833-1870) A chemist and druggist, who Elizabeth Hanley informs us was responsible for the recipe of “Baxter’s Lung Preserver”.
  • Mary Elizabeth (b circa 1835)
  • Eleanor (baptised 1st January 1840) married Wilkinson Matthews (1838-1919) a United Methodist Free Church minister
  • Elizabeth (b 3rd quarter 1841)
  • John (b 1845 in Jamaica, d Christchurch, NZ 1895) A chemist and druggist who sold “Baxter’s Lung Preserver” The first advert for this well known product appeared in New Zealand in 1873
  • Rebecca (b1849 in Jamaica, d London 25 September 1853)
  • Margaret Jane (1851-1929) married John Jeffree Pendray, (1845-1914) a United Methodist Free Church minister (from 1896, Methodist Church of New Zealand)

Matthew died on 1 May 1893 at Oxford, Canterbury, New Zealand

Philip Thornborow adds:

Matthew was an important writer. With James Everett he wrote Ten Lectures Addressed to the Working Classes etc. London, 1854.

He wrote the first history of the United Methodist Free Churches:

Baxter, Matthew. Methodism: Memorials of the United Methodist Free Churches, with Recollections of the Rev. Robert Eckett and some of his Contemporaries. London: W. Reed, 1865, ix, 514pp.

He also wrote The Missionary’s Legacy to his Friends; or, Glimpses of the Land of the Blessed London, W. Reed,1868

With Robert Eckett he compiled the Hymn book of the United Methodist Free Churches

Matthew’s obituary may be found on p15 of the Minutes of the United Methodist Free Churches Assembly of 1893. There is also a biography in Eayrs, G.R.  Short history of the United Methodist Church.

Whilst Matthew was still alive, G.J. Stevenson included a biography of him in the sixth volume of Methodist Worthies. You can read this in the attached pdf


Beckerlegge, O. A. (1968). United Methodist Ministers and their Circuits. London: Epworth.

Phillips, D. (2020). A Register of Ministers of the Methodist Church of New Zealand.

Stevenson, George John. Methodist Worthies: Characteristic Sketches of Methodist Preachers of the Several Denominations, with Historical Sketch of each Connexion. Vol. VI  London: Thomas C. Jack, 1886. pp939-944


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