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William Briggs (1722-c.1788)

William Briggs was the son of Henry Briggs, chaplain to King George II. Little is known of his life before 1743 when he is recorded as one of the earliest band members at the Foundry. Less than a year later he became the leader of one of the bands for single men and he quickly established himself as one of Wesley's most trusted lay helpers.

Later that year he accompanied Charles Wesley on a visit to Newcastle.

In 1746 Briggs was appointed one of the stewards for the Foundry School and he also served as a steward at the 1748 Conference. A year later he married Elizabeth, daughter of the noted Anglican evangelical Vincent Perronet.

There was an estrangement between Briggs and John Wesley over the Grace Murray affair, but the two men were soon reconciled. In 1753 Wesley showed the absolute trust that he had in Briggs, by giving him and Thomas Butts power of attorney to manage all the secular activities of the Foundry, especially the extensive printing operations. Briggs gave up this role in 1759 probably because of the his own professional commitments - he held a responsible position at the government's Ordnance Office.

Briggs and his family remained committed Methodists and his daughters were favoured correspondents of John Wesley.

Source:  The Works of John Wesley (1982), Volume 26, p.120, edited by Dr Frank Baker and Dictionary of Evangelical Biography 1739-1860, edited by Donald M. Lewis (1995)

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