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Dixon, Dr James
1788-1871; e.m. 1812

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WM itinerant, born at Castle Donington on 28 October 1788. He spent four years studying theology before beginning his long circuit ministry in Hereford, which he called 'the poorest Circuit in all the Kingdom'. He quickly gained a reputation as a preacher, with a special concern for slavery, missions and the Bible Society. A notable pastor, he had a fear of bureaucracy and centralization. Though high Wesleyan and Tory, he had an affinity with Liberals like Joseph Beaumont and Thomas Galland. Though blind in later years, Dixon was one of the notable characters of early Victorian WM. He was President of the Conference in 1841. The sermon he preached at the end of his presidential year was expanded and published as Methodism in its Origin, Economy and Present Position (1843).

In 1848 he represented British Methodism at the General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, receiving a DD from Philadelphia University, and presided over the Canadian Conference of that year. His book on Methodism in America was published in 1849. In 1870 he asserted: 'Methodism was the most glorious development of the grace and power of God ever known in the world, but the horrors of that darkest hour [the culmination of the Fly Sheet controversy in 1849] shook my confidence.' Towards the end of his life he was stricken with blindness. He died at Manningham, Bradford on 28 December 1871. His third wife, Mary, was the daughter of Richard Watson and one of his sons was Richard W. Dixon (1833-1900), Anglican priest, poet and historian.

Quotations

'Dr. Dixon was a frequent guest, an interesting man, full of originality kept under control. I see him now, with his clear-cut features and white locks, reading in an arm-chair, now and then looking up and saying something quaintly sarcastic, but not unkindly so.'

'He was a nervous man, who looked half-blinded, and was very quiet and thoughtful.'

R. Denny Urlin, Father Reece, the Old Methodist Minister (1901), p.63

Sources

  • Robert A. West, Sketches of Wesleyan Preachers (1849) pp.370-86
  • S. Dunn, Memorials of the Venerable James Dixon (1872)
  • Richard W. Dixon, The Life of James Dixon, Wesleyan Minister (1874)
  • G.J. Stevenson, Methodist Worthies (1884-1886) 2 pp.307-19
  • William Moister, Missionary Worthies 1782-1885 (1885) pp.175-76
  • Wesley and his Successors (1895) pp.151-54
  • Susan I Jackson, In the Shadow of a Mighty Rock: A history of the Gibraltar Methodist Church (2009) pp.53-8
  • Oxford DNB

Entry written by: JMT
Category: Person

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