Watts-Ditchfield, John Edwin

He was born John Edwin Ditchfield on 17 September 1861 at Patricroft, Eccles, into a staunch Methodist family. After experiencing conversion in his teens, he became a local preacher in 1877 and in 1887 was accepted for the WM ministry and sent to Headingley College for training. Advised that the glut of candidates made it unlikely that he would be ordained, in 1888 he was confirmed in Manchester cathedral, changing his name (after his mother Mary Ann Watts) to Watts-Ditchfield. He was episcopally ordained in 1891 and had a fruitful ministry in east London, especially among working-class men in Bethnal Green, holding open-air services and campaigning against sweated labour and other social injustices. He still sometimes visited the Conference, declaring that he was still a Methodist. In 1914 he was chosen as bishop of the newly created diocese of Chelmsford. When the Lambeth Conference of 1917 approached the WM Conference with a view to exploring the possibility of reunion, he, along with the Bishop of London, Winnington-Ingram, made up the Anglican delegation. After a very active period in office he died on 14 July 1923 at Marylebone, London.

  • Times, 16 July 1923
  • E.N. Gowing, John Edwin Watts-Ditchfield, first bishop of Chelmsford (1926)
  • Martin Wellings, Evangelicals Embattled (2003)
  • Oxford DNB