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Adam Averell (1754-1847)

Adam Averell was born in Mullan, County Tyrone, Ireland. His family were reasonably well-off and one of his relations went on to became the Bishop of Limerick. Averell was educated at Trinity College, Dublin, and after working for a time as a tutor, he was ordained deacon in 1777 but was not appointed to a parish. He met John Wesley in Dublin and finally experienced an evangelical conversion, after which he took a curacy in 1789. He resigned two years later to enter the Wesleyan itinerancy.

Despite having an uncomfortable relationship with the Anglican Church in Ireland, Averell was opposed to Methodist preachers administering the Sacraments and played a leading role in the split within Irish Methodism over this issue in 1818. The break-away movement was known as the Primitive Wesleyan Methodists and Averell was elected its president every year until 1841. Approximately one third of Irish Wesleyans joined the Primitives.

The Primitive Wesleyan Methodists remained a part of the Church of Ireland until the disestablishment of the Church in 1870 raised questions that were finally resolved in 1878 when the Conference merged with the parent Wesleyan body to form the Methodist Church in Ireland.

Source: Dictionary of Evangelical Biography 1739-1860, edited by Donald M. Lewis (1995) and A Dictionary of Methodism in Britain and Ireland, edited by John Vickers (2000)

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