Wesley, Charles, 1707-1788

Alternative names
Birth 1707-12-18
Death 1788-03-29

Biographical notes:

English preacher; brother of John Wesley.

From the description of Autograph letter signed : Marybone, to Robert Windsor, 1785 Apr. 17. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270587853

Charles Wesley, an English clergyman, poet, and hymn writer, was born at Epworth, Lincolnshire, England, on December 18, 1707. He was the youngest son of Samuel and Susanna Wesley and the brother of John Wesley.

In 1726 he entered Christ Church College, Oxford. During his time there he formed the Holy Club, a group dedicated to a methodical approach to Bible study and charitable works. The group, later taken over by John Wesley, was ridiculed and derisively referred to as the "Methodists." In 1735 Charles was ordained an Anglican priest and, at John's insistence, sailed with him to the colony of Georgia. Once there he became private secretary to General James Oglethorpe. Charles returned to England in 1736 because of health problems and his inability to carry out his assigned duties.

Wesley experienced a religious conversion in 1738 and began preaching in London churches. His evangelical style angered church officials, and by 1739 he was barred from the pulpit. For the next ten years Charles was an itinerate preacher and traveled constantly with his brother John. Following his marriage to Sarah Gwynn in 1749 he stopped traveling and spent his time overseeing Methodist places of worship in London. Charles remained faithful to the Church of England and was outraged when John began ordaining preachers for service in Scotland and America.

Charles Wesley's most significant contribution was in his hymns. He published more than 4,500 hymns and left some 3,000 in manuscript. Among his best known hymns are "Love divine, all loves excelling"; "Hark the herald angels sing" and "Rejoice the Lord is king." He died in London on March 29, 1788.

From the description of Charles Wesley psalms, circa 1750. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 122583768


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  • Methodist Church--Clergy--Diaries
  • Religious poetry, English--18th century


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