John Ripley (1751-1825)
John Ripley was born in Holbeck near Leeds, the son of a wealthy cloth manufacturer and member of the Church of England. Ripley was raised to attend worship on a regular basis and it was his father's intention that his son should enter the Anglican ministry. It became clear however that Ripley had a speech impediment and as this would have presented difficulties for a clergyman, he was trained instead for a career in commerce.
The Methodists arrived in Holbeck in 1768, introduced by members of the nearby Hunslet society. The first class was formed by Joseph Johnson and his wife who had recently moved into the village from Birstal. At first subject to some persecution, the Methodists aroused a considerable stir and Ripley was curious to find out more about them. He started to attend meetings and joined a class. Ripley was converted in 1769 and two years later became a local preacher.
Ripley moved to Leeds during the 1780s but remained a class leader in his native village and was prominent in the erection of the Holbeck chapel in 1787. Ripley served as a chapel trustee and was also instrumental in the erection of a second enlarged chapel in the village in 1815, to which he contributed a considerable proportion of the cost.
In his later years, Ripley developed a strong interest in overseas missions and attended the first meeting of the Wesleyan Missionary Society in Leeds in 1813, which is accounted the beginning of what became the Methodist Church Overseas Division.
He retired from business in 1815 but continued active in local Methodism until an attack of palsy in March 1824 rendered him unfit for further service. He died on May 16 1825.
His wife Sarah (1758-1829) was also a devout Methodist. She was a member of the society for fifty-four years and served as a class leader for twenty-eight.
Source: Methodist Magazine 1826,433-438 and Arminian Magazine 1829,718.