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William Green (d.1777)

William Green was a schoolmaster, originally of Thorpe in Yorkshire.

In the early 1740s he moved to establish a school in Rotherham and was one of the Methodist pioneers in the town.

His house was used as the first place of worship for the town's infant society while as a local preacher, he did much to introduce Methodism into the surrounding villages despite intense persecution.

Green was also involved with bookselling and was responsible for distributing large amounts of Methodist literature.

Green's first wife (also a Methodist) died in the late 1740s and to avoid the possibility of scandal, he refused to allow women to enter his house for several years after. This caused the society that met there some inconvenience and it was upon the advice of his fellow Methodists that he remarried in 1749.

His second wife was Jane Holmes of Sheffield, a devout Methodist who had previously resolved never to marry. It was only with great reluctance and after seeking the advice of her mother and the people in her band, that she agreed to Green's proposal, which had come as a complete and by no means welcome surprise.

The couple entertained both Wesley brothers during their visits to the town and were instrumental in the erection of the first purpose-built chapel in Rotherham, well-known for its octagonal shape. It opened for worship in 1761.  

Green died on May 20 1777. John Wesley visited Rotherham on June 16th and noted in his journal that the society did not seem discouraged 'by the death of that good man, William Green, who had been as a father to them from the beginning'.

Green had eight children, four by each of his two wives.

Source: Samuel J. Russell, Historical Notes of Wesleyan Methodism in Rotherham Circuit (1910), pp.8-31 and A Biographical Dictionary of 18th century Methodism by Samuel Rogal (Edwin Mellen Press 1997)

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