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William Bramwell (1759-1818)

William Bramwell was born of Anglican parentage, at Elswick in Lancashire. Apprenticed to a currier in Preston, he joined the Methodist society and became a class leader and local preacher. Bramwell entered the itinerancy in 1786 and exercised an active circuit ministry until his sudden death which occurred in Manchester.

Bramwell was an evanglist of remarkable powers, particularly noted for his success in inspiring revivals. During his first appointment to Sheffield between 1795 and 1797, the circuit reported a net increase of 1,500 despite the loss of nearly 1,000 members to the New Connexion.

Despite his ability and considerable reputation on both sides of the Atlantic, Bramwell never achieved high office in the Wesleyan Church. This was probably due to his sympathy with dissident elements within Wesleyan Methodism and some elements of his personal spirituality such as his claim to possess the power of discernment of spirits.

Source: Encyclopedia of World Methodism (1974), Revd. T. Alexander Seed, Norfolk Street Wesleyan Chapel, Sheffield (1907), pp.62-68 and Dictionary of Evangelical Biography 1739-1860, edited by Donald M. Lewis (1995)

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