John Wesley, the founder of Methodism. was born at Epworth, Lincolnshire. England, June 17, 1703 (0. S.). His father, Samuel Wesley. rector of Epworth, belonged to an ancient family of high respectability. His mother was the daughter of Dr. Anuesley, a man nobly connected, and the possessor of a very exalted character. To this remarkably endowed lady Wesley was chiefly indebted for his admirable early training and his elementary education. His uncommonly fine traits of character, and his narrow, not to say marvellous, escape from the burning rectory when he was six years old, gave birth in her mind to an impression that this child was destined to an extraordinary career. She therefore consecrated him to God with special solemnity, resolving "to be more particularly careful ... to instil into his mind the principles of religion and virtue." The fruit of her fidelity to this high purpose was the grand and beautiful life of her consecrated boy.

I. School and College Life

When Wesley was in his eleventh year, the patronage of the duke of Buckingham secured his admission to the Charterhouse School, London, of which Dr. Thomas Walker was then master. and the Rev. Andrew Tooke, author of the Pantheon, usher. To such a grave and gentle-mannered boy as was this poor son of a village rector, his removal from the peaceful rectory and the companionship of his firm but loving mother to the cloisters of a large "foundation" school, and to forced association with numerous rude boys, whose cruelty to their juniors was equal to their thoughtlessness, must have been a very sore trial: but he stood it bravely, and soon won a very high reputation for good behavior, devotion to study, and superior scholarship.

Three nineteenth-century images of Christ Church College, Oxford. Not in M'Clintock
and Strong. [Click on thumbnails for larger images and additional information.]

When sixteen years old he was elected to Christ Church College, Oxford. Here he pursued his studies with the same exemplary diligence as at the Charterhouse. So highly were his classical attainments esteemed by the heads of the university that, he was elected fellow of Lincoln College, March 17, 1726. He was then but twenty-three years of age, yet such was his reputation as a classical scholar, a thoughtful and polished writer, and a skilful logician that he was chosen Greek lecturer and moderator of the classes only eight months after his election to a fellowship, and before he had proceeded master of arts. to which academic honor lie was admitted in February, 1727.

Last modified 30 April 2010