The Early Preachers Collection

Scope and Content

Deposited in the Methodist Archives are several thousand letters and other personal papers created by the preachers and lay-people of the Methodist Church and related evangelical movements from the early 18th century to the present.

A wide range of correspondent is represented in the collection. There are papers of important Anglican evangelicals like George Whitefield and William Grimshaw as well as letters from preachers and lay people of every social class. There are also some items relating to early American Methodism and the Episcopalian Church.

The subjects covered in the collection are extremely varied as the correspondents write of official as well as personal matters.

Researchers from several different historical disciplines will therefore find the collection valuable, especially as very few of the letters have previously been listed.

[Note: Letters written to John Wesley have not been catalogued in detail as these have been largely published most recently in the Oxford edition of Wesley's Works. In those few cases where a doubt exists, the item concerned has been catalogued in the same way as the rest of the collection.]

Administrative / Biographical History



The collection consists of approximately one hundred and sixty letters and associated papers contained in two folio volumes or scrap-books.

The first consists of letters written mainly to Charles Wesley and the second is more general in nature. The papers contained in these folios date chiefly from the 18th century although there are some items from the early 19th.

Access Information

The collection is open to any accredited reader.

Acquisition Information

The Methodist Church. The papers now contained within two folios, were placed there probably during the nineteenth century by someone within the Methodist Church. The only determining factors in the selection of material would appear to have been a link with the Wesleys and early Methodism. The documents are not arranged in any order.

The folios were preserved as part of the wider Methodist Archive Collection at John Wesley's Chapel in City Road, London, until 1976 when the collection was transferred to the John Rylands University Library of Manchester.

Other Finding Aids

A catalogue of the Collection was produced by Gareth Lloyd in 1995. The present catalogue has been produced to replace this with an ISAD(G) compliant catalogue.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies and photographic copies of material in the archive can be supplied for private study purposes only, depending on the condition of the documents.

A number of items within the archive remain within copyright under the terms of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988; it is the responsibility of users to obtain the copyright holder's permission for reproduction of copyright material for purposes other than research or private study.

Prior written permission must be obtained from the Library for publication or reproduction of any material within the archive. Please contact the Keeper of Manuscripts and Archives, John Rylands University Library, 150 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 3EH.

Related Material

Collections at the John Rylands Library:

  • Charles Wesley Papers
  • Early Methodist Personal Papers
  • Wesley Family Archive
  • John Atlay Papers
  • Samuel Bardsley Papers
  • Joseph Benson Papers
  • Adam Clarke Papers
  • Thomas Coke Papers

Family Names