John is remembered on the war memorial at St. Nicholas Congregational Church, Ipswich.


Born: 1858, Wirksworth, Derbyshire.

Died: 29th September 1915; age: 57; at the East Suffolk and Ipswich Hospital, Ipswich, from a fracture of the skull as a result of injuries sustained in an accident on the evening of the 28th September.

Due to the darkening of the streets under military regulations, John fell down a flight of steps leading to the basement of the County Club, Ipswich. John was picked up unconscious and taken to hospital.

Residence: 55, Christchurch Street, Ipswich.

Occupation: Reverend/Congregational Minister of St. Nicholas Street Congregational Church, St. Nicholas Street, Ipswich.

A short service was held at the family home – 55, Christchurch Street, on Saturday, 1st October 1915, before the funeral service held at St. Nicholas Congregational Church, followed by final obsequies at the Ipswich Cemetery.


Grave Reference:

Ipswich Old Cemetery,





1861   Greenhill, Wirksworth, Derbyshire.

John was 2 years old and living with his parents and maternal cousin

Patsey Gleeson, 32, a General Dealer, born Ballyhaunis, County Mayo, Ireland.

Mary Gleeson (nee Alsop), 24, born Wirksworth.

Hannah Alsop, 9 born Wirksworth.


1871   The Dale, Wirksworth, Derbyshire.

John was 12 years old and living with his widowed father.

Patsey, 44, a General Merchant.

1 general domestic servant.


1881   The Dale, Wirksworth, Derbyshire.

John was 22 years old, a Student of Theology. He was living with his widowed father and paternal cousin.

Patsey, 50, a Small Ware Dealer.

William Gleeson, 19, a Small Ware Dealer, born Manchester, Lancashire.

1 general domestic servant.


1891   110, Lowther Street, Penrith, Cumberland.

John was 32 years old, a Congregational Minister. He was lodging at the home of 34 year old, Elizabeth Atkinson, a Lodging House Keeper.


1901   Westfield House, Idle, West Yorkshire.

John was 42 years old, a Congregational Minister. He was married and head of the household.

Alice, 40.

William, 1 month.

1 cook.

1 housemaid.

1 monthly nurse.


1911   55, Christchurch Street, Ipswich.

John was 52 years old, a Congregational Minister. He was married and head of the household.

Alice, 50.

William, 10.

1 domestic housemaid.


John’s mother, Mary Gleeson died June 1868, Wirksworth, Derbyshire.


John studied at Rotherham College.


Whilst in Dublin, John was present in Phoenix Park, on the 6th May 1882, when the assassination of Lord Frederick Charles Cavendish and Irish civil servant Thomas Henry Burke took place.


In 1900, Eccleshill, Yorkshire, John married Alice Smith, born 1860, Eccleshill, daughter of William Smith (a Woollen Cloth Manufacturer employing over 200 workers) and Elizabeth Smith, of Eccleshill, Yorkshire.

They had 1 son:

William Smith Gleeson, born 1901, Idle, West Yorkshire.


Probate in 1927 to William Smith Gleeson – son, a farmer.

Former Probate grant to Alice Gleeson – widow.


Alice Gleeson died 4th November 1922, at Burlington Road, Ipswich, of 70, Christchurch Street, Ipswich.


Before moving to Ipswich, John had previously been a Congregational Minister at Kilmainham, a suburb of Dublin and later at Newry, before he accepted the call to minister at Penrith Congregational Church, Duke Street, Cumberland, in 1889, after the Rev. Robert Jackson accepted a position at Petworth Congregational, near Brighton, leaving in early December 1888.

John’s ministerial work at Penrith terminated on the first Sunday of July 1892 after he decided to accept the call to minster at Upper Chapel, Idle, Yorkshire. The Rev. Simeon Dyson, of Penrith Congregational Church had resigned his pastorate in 1891.

Cumberland and Westmorland Herald – 11th June 1892Rev. J. Gleeson announced that he has decided to accept an invitation to the pastorate at Upper Chapel, Idle, expressing sorrow that he would have to leave the people of Penrith who had treated him with much consideration and kindness. He felt that a field of greater usefulness had been opened up to him and believed he was acting on the line of duty in accepting the hearty and unanimous call.

In 1906, John accepted the call to minister at St. Nicholas Congregational Church, Ipswich, after the Rev. John Reuben Saunders, Congregational Minister at St. Nicholas Congregational Church, Ipswich retired and moved to Wallington, Surrey to reside with his son Percy John Saunders.

Shipley Times and Express – 9th March 1906 – THE REV. J. GLEESON, OF IDLE – A “CALL” FROM IPSWICH. The Rev. J. Gleeson, the well-known pastor of the Upper Chapel at Idle, has received a “call” from the congregation of the St. Nicholas Congregational Church at Ipswich, and it is exceedingly probable that he will accept it. Last Tuesday evening Mr. and Mrs. Gleeson attended a social gathering in connection with the church at Ipswich. The Rev. gentleman has informed the deacons of the Idle Upper Chapel of the “call,” and it is expected that he will make some reference to it from the pulpit on Sunday morning. Mr. Gleeson has labourer with great acceptance at Idle, and his fame as a lecturer is widely known.

Evening Star – 4th October 1906 – REV. JOHN GLEESON – RECOGNITION AT ST. NICHOLAS CONGREGATIONAL CHURCHA very enthusiastic and joyous service was held in St. Nicholas Congregational Church, Ipswich, on Wednesday evening, in connection with the recognition of the Rev. John Gleeson as pastor. A large number of the members, together with many friends belonging to other churches in the town, partook of an elegant tea in the large schoolroom, at the kind invitation of the ladies of the congregation. The subsequent service was largely attended by visitors from various parts, and the interior of the chapel was made bright and cheery by a very artistic arrangement of choice greenhouse plants and flowers. Mr. D. Ford Goddard, M.P., presided, and was supported by many Nonconformist ministers of the town and other friends. The service commenced with the singing of the hymn “O, God our help in ages past,” and was followed by the reading of a portion of Scripture by the Rev. Morgan David Morgan, and prayer by the Rev. Edward James Gilchrist, M.A., B.D. Mr. D. Ford Goddard welcomed Mr. Gleeson to Ipswich with all his heart, believing him to be not only a mainly man, but a thoroughly prepared and equipped man, a man with a large heart, filled with spirit, whose object was not applause, but to make known the light of the truth. (Applause). The Rev. John Gleeson, who was warmly received, made a feeling and appropriate acknowledgement to him, and of the kind things which had been said about him, but which he felt did not deserve. He felt it a trying ordeal some time ago to say “Good bye” to his kind friends at Idle, and he now felt it difficult to give adequate expression to his appreciation of the kind wishes that had been expressed, not only by ministers of all denominations, but by many other friends, for his future happiness and success in the fresh sphere of labour to which he had been called. Mr. Harry William Raffe proposed in suitable terms a hearty vote of thanks to the Chairman and the ladies for so kindly providing tea. Mr. T. Southgate, one of the oldest members of the Church, second the motion. The motion carried amidst applause, and the service closed by the singing of the Dexology, and the pronouncing of the Benediction by the Rev. J. Gleeson.

Evening Star – 4th September 1906 – Rev. John Gleeson, F.R.G.S., commenced his ministry at St. Nicholas Congregational Church, Ipswich, on Sunday, by preaching to large congregations, morning and evening. It is confidently expected that Mr. Gleeson’s advent to St. Nicholas Congregational Church will cause a revival of interest in this time-honoured sanctuary, where good work has been done by former pastors, all of whom, with one exception, have passed away. Mr. Gleeson is evidently an original thinker and preacher.

Grantham Journal – 9th October 1915The Rev. John Gleeson, minister of St. Nicholas Congregational Church, Ipswich, has lost his life by an accident due to the darkening of the streets under military regulations. John was on his way home from an evening meeting at his church, when, by mistake, he walked into a gateway at the back of the County Club and fell down a flight of steps leading to the basement. He was picked up unconscious and died next day in Hospital.


Diss Express– 8th October 1915 – FUNERAL OF THE REV. GLEESON The interment of the Rev. John Gleeson, pastor of St. Nicholas Congregational Church, who met with a mysteriously tragic death on Tuesday night in last week took place at Ipswich Cemetery on Saturday. Prior to the removal of the remains from the deceased’s residence in Christchurch Street, a short service was held there, at which, besides the family mourners, the deacons of St. Nicholas Congregation Church attended. The service at the Church, where a large congregation assembled, was conducted by the Rev. Thomas John Hosken, pastor of Tacket Street Congregational Church, assisted by the Rev. Edward James Gilchrist, minister of the Presbyterian Church. The remains were taken into the Church during the singing of the hymn “Hush! Blessed are the dead.” The lesson was read by Rev. Hosken and prayed offered by the Rev. Gilchrist. Rev. Hosken paid a glowing tribute to the life work of the deceased pastor. During the service the Rev. Gleeson’s favourite hymn, “God holds the key of the unknown,” was sung, and before the remains were borne away to their final resting place in the Cemetery the congregation joined in singing the hymn, “Now the labourer’s task is o’er.” At the conclusion of the service the organist, Mr. S. Squirrell played the “Dead March” from “Saul.” The large congregation included many of the deceased’s personal friends, co-workers, and acquaintances in his numerous spheres of activity. At the Cemetery, a large number of people gathered to witness the final obsequies. The remains were deposited in an evergreen and flower-lined brick grave. The coffin was of English oak, French polished, with heavy brass fittings, and it bore the following inscription: “John Gleeson, died 29th September 1915, aged 57 years.” The floral tributes numbered over fifty.

There was a large congregation at the Sunday morning’s service, which was conducted by the Rev. D. Clayton, of Debenham. At the evening service, when the Rev. Hosken was the preacher, there was a crowded congregation, and many who were unable to gain admission were turned away before the service even commenced. This was an eloquent tribute to the work of the deceased as a minister, and to his popularity, not only amongst those who were members of the congregation but to others of his townsmen as well.

In July 1916, the Rev. Albert Bage, who since 1914 had been minister of Laisterdyke Congregational Church, Bradford, and formerly pastor of the Stannary Church, Halifax, accepted the pastorate of St. Nicholas Congregational Church.


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