Crook, William (1823–97), methodist minister and historian, was born 1 November 1823, at Newtownbarry, Co. Wexford, the eldest son of the Rev. William Crook (1784–1862) of Cosbystown, Co. Fermanagh, a prominent methodist minister, and Jane Crook (née Vipond) of Cork. Educated at Drogheda grammar school, his active interest in methodism dates from 1839, when he attended a revival meeting in Tullamore, Co. Offaly, conducted by the Rev. William Cather, where he experienced a form of spiritual awakening. He subsequently began preaching, and in 1846 was accepted by the methodist conference as a candidate for the ministry. After studying at the Theological Institution at Didsbury, Lancashire, he received his first appointment in 1848 at Maryborough, Queen's County, and for the next forty-nine years travelled the country as an itinerant minister. Stationed in Ballymoney during the revival of 1859, he witnessed at first hand the renewed interest in methodism, particularly in Ulster, and as a result in October of that year, with the Rev. George Vance and the Dublin solicitor Theodore Cronhelm, he founded and edited the methodist monthly journal the Irish Evangelist. He played a prominent role in the establishment of the Methodist Orphan Society in 1869, of which he served as a treasurer and secretary, in the negotiations which led to the methodist union of 1878–9, in the administration of missionary affairs, and in the introduction of lay representation at the conference. A delegate to the first ecumenical conference in London (1881), he was also a member of the legal hundred (the governing body of the methodist conference), and in 1883 and 1896 served simultaneously as vice-president of the conference and president of the Methodist Church in Ireland. He was an enthusiastic advocate of temperance.
Throughout his career Crook produced numerous publications, among them tracts, sermons, and memorials of fellow methodist preachers, including a biography of his father (1863). His most notable work was Ireland and the centenary of American methodism (1866; 3rd ed., 1866) in which he assessed the contribution made by Irish methodist emigrants in America. Soon after its publication both the Wesleyan University, Bloomfield, Illinois, and Dickinson College, Carlisle, Pennsylvania, conferred on him the degree DD. He later travelled to the United States on a fund-raising trip, and from New York wrote: ‘I had no conception of the extent to which Irish methodism has been bereaved of her children till I came here now’ (1882). He married Maria Tackaberry, daughter of the Rev. Fossey Tackaberry, with whom he had six sons and three daughters. Their second son, William Montgomery, pursued a career in politics and journalism in London, while another son, the Rev. Robert Crook, was headmaster of the connexional school in Dublin, and later of Methodist College, Belfast, where he was subsequently appointed principal. William Crook died 13 October 1897 at 12 Eyre Square, Galway, and was buried in the cemetery of Ballingrane methodist church. His History of methodism was unfinished. The methodist congregation of Kilkee, Co. Clare, built the William Crook Memorial Church in 1901.