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James Kershaw (1730-97)

James Kershaw was born in Halifax, Yorkshire, the son of a clothier. He was converted after hearing a sermon preached by the Anglican evangelical Henry Venn, and the two subsequently became close friends. He joined the itinerancy in 1752 and accompanied John Wesley on several journeys. He left the work in 1757 and settled as an independent minister in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, where he also apparently sold quack medicines.

Kershaw re-entered the itinerancy in 1765 and was involved on Wesley's side in the Calvinistic controversy of the 1770s. However he fell foul of the Methodist leader with the publication of his poem The Methodist, which caused Wesley to restrain his preachers from indulging in unauthorised publications.

Kershaw again left the itinerancy in 1776 and returned to Gainsborough before moving to Ashby-de-la-Zouch in Leicestershire where he died.

Kershaw's preaching was highly regarded but his usefulness was impeded by a lack of mental stability.

Source: Dictionary of Evangelical Biography 1739-1860, edited by Donald M. Lewis (1995) and Methodist Memorial by Charles Atmore (London 1801), 237.

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