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Ministry: those who left

54% of John Wesley's preachers left the itinerancy, for a variety of reasons. Many (e.g. William Orpe (1743-1810; e.m. 1764/65) and Francis Woolf (1740-1807; e.m. 1768) married and settled down, usually as local preachers. Some like Joseph Pilmore took Anglican orders; others went into business or 'located' for health reasons. Some quarrelled with Wesley, e.g. because they were left out of the Deed of Declaration (e.g. the Hampsons) or would not accept their stationing. Doctrine was sometimes a reason (e.g. Samuel Edwards who travelled 1783-89). This might lead to joining another Church or even founding a new one (John Blades, and later Alexander Kilham, William Booth). John and Charles Wesley periodically examined the itinerants and purged their ranks, not only on moral grounds (e.g.James Wheatley), but for involvement in trade (e.g. William Darney) or lacking the necessary gifts (e.g. Thomas Readshaw, travelled 1779-1783; died 1788).

Most of these reasons still operated after Wesley's death. Robert Newton's brother Jacob Newton left on health grounds in 1812. Jonas Jagger (e.m. 1800) was expelled in 1824 for drunkenness; Edwin Tindall (e.m. 1858) in 1883 for embezzlement, and one probationer, George Dyson, was even implicated in a murder case. The rate of loss dropped in every decade until the 1960s, as the length of service in a circuit grew longer and circuits decreased in size.

Since 1850 doctrinal issues have become more important (e.g. the case of Walter Gill); marriage regulations continued a factor (e.g. S. Parkes Cadman) and in the late twentieth century some have left because of a marriage break-up. Some left because they were not permitted to work in the 'sectors' - a result of a more highly qualified ministry at a time when the State had taken over aspects of the Church's role. Others continued to be attracted into the Anglican ministry (e.g. Bishop Joseph W. Hunkin) or that of other denominations. The period 1957-1973 saw a rise in the number of transfers to the Church of England and of resignations (e.g. Franz Hildebrandt) in protest against the Anglican-Methodist proposals. At the same time there was a rise in the numbers of those returning, following a pattern exemplified earlier by Robert Dall. Most of those who left, chose to do so and were not excluded for disciplinary reasons, unlike the case of Paul Flowers, former Chairman of the Cooperative Bank, who was excluded in 2017 for possessing drugs."

Others who left:

Robert Alder, H.D.Anthony, James Archbell, John Atlay, Adam Averell, Shirley W. Baker, John Bakewell, John Y Barber, Samuel S Barton , George Beaumont, John Boyle Bennett, John Boyle, Robert Bradford, James Bromley, John Bryan, Thomas Bryant, Charles Burton, James Bulpitt, Andrew Caughey, Robert Clapham, Thomas Colbeck, Joseph Cooke, Laurence Coughlan, Henry Coventry, James Crabb, William Cranfield, John Newton Davies, William Davies(Davies Affrica), William J Dawson, [[Entry:816 James Dempster, Edward Dromgoole, Samuel Dunn, John Edwards, Stephen Eversfield, Stanley B Frost, John Gordon, Walford Green, Theophilus S. Gregory, Herbert Gerrard, John Hallam, William Hammett, George Handforth, John Harper, John Hawtrey, John Heaps, William Hitchens, Silas Hocking, John Horsford, Lucy Hubbold, Wilfred Hulbert, Joseph Humphreys, Charles Jackson, John Jones, Frederick Kendall, Henry Kendall, [[Knowlson, Thomas Sharper]] George Lawton, Pierre Le Sueur, Charles Leach, Sir Henry Lunn, John McGeary, Alexander McNab, James McQuigg, Ralph Mansfield, Jonathan Maskew, H. F. Mathews, Thomas Meyrick, Samuel Nicholson, Enos Nuttall, Edward Oakes, William O’Bryan, James Oddie, William E.Parker, David Pawson, Peter Percival , Jonathan Reeves, Nathan Rouse, John Rutledge, William Salt, Thomas Shore, John Skevington, George W Smailes, Gideon Smales, W J Smart, Samuel Smethurst, John S Stamp, John Stamp(PM), George Steward, John Featherstone Stirling, Thomas Swallow, Joseph Symes, Edward J Thompson, Francis Thoresby, Thomas Townend, Geoffrey Treglown, Jabez Watkin, John Wedgwood, Nathanael West, Joseph Wheatley, William White, John Whitehead, Thomas Williams, Robert Winfield, William Woon,, C.J. Wright, Richard Wright


  • Kenneth D. Brown, A Social History of the Nonconformist Ministry in England and Wales (Oxford, 1988)
  • Richard P. Heitzenrater, Wesley and the People Called Methodists (1995) pp.182-6
  • John Lenton, 'Men Who Left the Wesleyan Ministry, 1791-1932', in David J. Hart and David J. Jeremy (eds.), Brands Plucked from the Burning: Essays on Methodist Memorialisation and Remembering (2013) pp.168-96

Entry written by: JHL
Category: Subject

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