The Works of the Rev. John Wesley - Charles H. Kelly

Charles H. Kelly


Charles H. Kelly (1833-1911)

Charles Henry Kelly was born, and grew up, in Salford, Lancashire. He was born on 25 November 1833, to John and Sarah Kelly, and baptised on 22 December 1933. His father, John, was a clerk for the Board of Highways in Manchester and according to the 1851 Census, Charles, age 17, worked at the same job. At some point, the plan to follow in his father's footsteps changed and Charles decided to go into the ministry. He studied at the Wesleyan Methodist College in Didsbury, near Manchester, England and began in the ministry by 1857.

In the 1861 Census, Charles found himself far from home, living at the Wesleyan Chaplain House in Aldershot, Surrey, England. He was the assistant to Wesleyan Chaplain to the Troops, William Harris Rule. Together, Rule and Kelly began the legacy of Methodists Chaplains to the Army, Air Force and Navy.

In 1864, Charles became a member of the Army Committee and then served as Chaplain at Chatham and Sheerness. In 1867, he transferred to the Guards Depot at Chelsea before deciding to become a circuit minister. In 1875, he took the leadership role in the newly organized Connexional Sunday School Union.

It was during these same years that Charles became a family man. By the mid-1860's, Charles married Eleanor Bell and together they had three children: Blanche (b.1866), Arthur Henry (b. Summer 1869), and Charles Ernest (b. 1870). Blanche died at the age of five in Wandsworth, London, England. Her death is registered in the Oct-Nov-Dec 1872 record books.

Charles' two sons, Arthur and Charles, went into business together. In the 1891 Census, they were tea taster/tea brokers; in the 1901 Census, they are listed as Colonial Produce Dealers; and in the 1911 Census, Arthur is a “provisions merchant" and Charles is an “essential oil dealer". They remained single and living with their parents well into their 40's. They have not been tracked beyond the 1911 Census.

Charles was President of the Wesleyan Methodist Church in 1889 and 1903. He was also Book Steward for the Wesleyan Church from 1889 onwards, making him head of the Wesleyan Publishing Office. The UPEI Provenance book, The Journal of the Reverend John Wesley, includes a handwritten letter pasted on the inside cover, by Charles H. Kelly, dated 4 March 1891. The top of the letterhead is stamped REVd Charles H. Kelly, Book Steward. The letter reads as follows:

Telegraphic Address- Book Room London.
Wesleyan Conference Office,
2 Castle Street City Road
London, E.C.

Rev'd Charles H. Kelly, Book Steward.

4th March 1891

My dear Sir,

Will you permit me to offer for your acceptance a copy of Wesley's Work s etc on behalf of this Office. The parcel has been sent to you.
I assure you that your address on Monday at the Centenary Celebration at City Road, gave great delight to the Methodist people; and I trust the fine catholic, christian spirit of it will do much good; and that the effect of your visit will be helpful to the cause of our Great Master.

With many thanks and best regards,
Believe me,
Faithfully yours,
Charles H. Kelly

[To] The Ven. Archdeacon Farrar, Westminster

The Venerable Archdeacon Farrar, to whom the letter was addressed, was Frederic Farrar, noted Anglican cleric and author. The date that he spoke of at the “Centenary Celebration" was 2 March 1891, it was the 100th Anniversary of the death of John Wesley. From the celebrations, Charles wrote and compiled the book, Wesley, The Man, His Teaching and His Work: Being Sermons and Addresses Delivered in City Road Chapel at the Centenary Commemoration of John Wesley’s Death, which was published in London in 1891.

Charles died on 5 April 1911. He and Eleanor were living at Spanish Close, Wandsworth Common, Surrey, UK at the time of his death. His will was probated on 16 May 1911 and his effects were left to his wife, Eleanor Bell Kelly. The year before he died, Charles published his own memoirs entitled “Memories". It was published by Robert Culley in London, 1910.


Baptismal Record for Charles H. Kelly. Lancashire Anglican Parish Records, Births and Baptisms, 1813-1911. Preston England: Lancashire Archives. Reference Number Drm/2/163.

1851 Census Returns of England and Wales. Kew, Surrey, England: The National Archives of the UK (TNA): Public Record Office (PRO), 1851. Class: HO107; Piece: 2162; Folio: 290; Page: 32; GSU roll: 87142-87143

1861 Census Returns of England and Wales. Kew, Surrey, England: The National Archives of the UK (TNA): Public Record Office (PRO), 1861. Class: RG 9; Piece: 430; Folio: 84; Page: 19; GSU roll: 542636

1891 Census Returns of England and Wales. Kew, Surrey, England: The National Archives of the UK (TNA): Public Record Office (PRO), 1891. Class: RG 12; Piece: 448; Folio: 67; Page: 13; GSU roll: 6095558

1901 Census Returns of England and Wales. Kew, Surrey, England: The National Archives of the UK (TNA), 1901. Class: RG 13; Piece: 484; Folio: 173; Page: 9

1911 Census Returns of England and Wales. Kew, Surrey, England: The National Archives of the UK (TNA), 1911. Class: RG 14; Piece: 2422

Death Index for Blanche Kelly. England and Wales Civil Registration Indexes. London, England; General Register Office. Volume 1d; Page 319.

Thompson, John Handby. “The Free Church Army Chaplain, 1830-1930." PhD Thesis, University of Sheffield, 1990.

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