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James Thorne (1795-1872)

James Thorne was born at Shebbear in North Devon. His parents were enthusiastic supporters of William O'Bryan, founder of the Bible Christian Church, and it was at their home that a society was formed in 1815 in which all the family was enrolled.

In 1816 Thorne became the first itinerant preacher of the Bible Christian Connexion and served with great success in the southwest and later in Kent, often preaching fifteen or sixteen sermons a week. His wife Catherine Reed was also a Bible Christian evangelist.

Thorne possessed considerable organisational abilities and effectively succeeded O'Bryan as the leader of the Connexion in 1829. He was five times President of the Conference and edited the Connexional Magazine for thirty-eight years. A keen supporter of the temperance movement, he was also a sponsor of the Evangelical Alliance and the Bible Society.

Thorne was a warm advocate of plans in the 1860s to unite the Bible Christians and the Methodist New Connexion, and was deeply disappointed when the scheme fell through.

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

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