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Ralph Mather (c.1755-1803)

Ralph Mather was born in Leigh, Lancashire. He was educated as a Quaker but was apparently converted to Methodism after hearing Captain Thomas Webb preach at London's West Street Chapel early in 1773. Later that year, Mather exhorted several times in the Manchester area and was introduced to the Wesleyan preacher Samuel Bardsley.

Mather was admitted as a preacher on trial by the Conference of 1773 and in August preached at Kingswood School. He also accompanied John Wesley on a tour of the West Country.

Mather's time in John Wesley's favour was shortlived. By January 1774 he was showing tendencies towards mysticism and from 1785 travelled as a Swedenborgian preacher. In 1791 he served as a pastor of a Swedenborgian church in Liverpool and two years later emigrated to the United States. Mather died in Norfolk, Virginia.

Source: Dictionary of Evangelical Biography, edited by Donald Lewis (1995), A Biographical Dictionary of 18th century Methodism by Samuel Rogal (Edwin Mellen Press 1997), BRD1/2 (MARC) and information provided by John Lenton.

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