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Thomas Jackson (1783-1873)

Thomas Jackson was born in Sancton, Yorkshire, the son of a farm labourer. At the age of fifteen after an intermittent education, Jackson was apprenticed to a carpenter. While serving his apprenticeship, Jackson began to attend Methodist worship and in 1801 he was converted through the ministry of Mary Barritt. He began to preach soon after and entered the itinerancy in 1804.

Jackson was a close friend of Jabez Bunting, whose views on politics and Wesleyan polity he shared. In 1817 he succeeded Bunting as sub-secretary of the Conference and in 1824 was appointed to the important post of connexional editor, again in succession to Bunting.

From his days as an apprentice, Jackson had embarked on a programme of rigorous self-education. As connexional editor he authored a wide number of publications and established himself as one of Wesleyan Methodism's greatest apologists and historians.

The pamphlets which he wrote were cornerstones in the defence of traditional Wesleyanism during this very troubled period. He also edited the journals of Charles Wesley, and the sermons and other works of John Wesley, while his two volume biography of Charles Wesley is still the most complete work about the hymn-writer and co-founder of Methodism.

In 1842 he was appointed theological tutor at the Richmond Theological Institute and served there for nineteen years until poor health forced him into retirement.

Jackson served as President of Conference in 1838 and 1849.

Source: Encyclopedia of World Methodism (1974) and Dictionary of Evangelical Biography, edited by Donald Lewis (1995)

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