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George Thomas Perks (1819-77)

George Thomas Perks was born in Madeley, Shropshire. He came from a staunchly Anglican-Methodist background and his granduncle had been John Fletcher's churchwarden. Perks was converted at the age of sixteen through the preaching of the Methodist minister Jabez Rought and he entered the Wesleyan ministry in 1840.

After training at the Wesleyan Theological Institute, Perks served as a circuit minister in some of the most important English and Scottish circuits until 1863 when he was appointed to the post of Secretary of the Wesleyan Missionary Society. He was Secretary of Conference in 1872 and President a year later. He continued in the active ministry until his death, which occurred on May 28th 1877 just a few days after preaching his last sermon behalf of the Foreign Missions.

Perks was a gifted preacher and theologian. Despite the fact that he did not possess a strong constitution, he displayed great energy in all areas of his ministry. He was one of the founders of the Methodist Recorder, which continues as the connexional newspaper to this day.

His son Sir Robert William Perks (1849-1934) was educated at Kingswood School and went on to become a prominent Liberal Member of Parliament, solicitor and civil engineer. Perks was one of the most important Methodist laymen of his generation and did much to bring Methodism and the Liberal party closer together. In recognition of his efforts to bring about Methodist union, Perks was elected Vice President of the Uniting Conference in 1932. His son Sir Robert Malcom Newbury Perks (1892-1979) was an important civil engineer and continued the family tradition of involvement in Methodism.

Source: Minutes of Conference 1877, Hill's Arrangement 1869 , A Dictionary of Methodism in Britain and Ireland, edited by John A. Vickers (Epworth Press 2000) and information provided by Mr John Lenton.

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