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Howell Harris (1714-73)

Howell Harris was born at Trevecka in Wales, the son of a carpenter. Originally intended for the Anglican ministry, Harris was educated locally and worked as a school master.

He was converted in 1735 and almost immediately embarked on an open-air itinerant ministry, which met with considerable success. The small societies which he founded, were the beginnings of the Welsh Methodist Church.

Harris met with Daniel Rowland and George Whitefield, bringing him into contact with the wider evangelical movement.

He established rules for the regulation of his societies, and in 1742 convened the first meeting of what was to become known as the Methodist Association. By this time Harris had adopted a Calvinist theology, and a split occurred in 1750 between him and the other leaders of the revival. That same year, he retired from the itinerancy and established a community at his house in Trevecka.

Harris emerged from seclusion in 1759 to join the Breconshire Militia in guarding against the threat of French invasion. After the regiment disbanded in 1762, he rejoined the itinerancy but did not enjoy the same success as previously.

He died at Trevecka on 21 July 1773 after a long period of declining health.

Despite being refused Anglican ordination on two occasions, Harris remained a loyal member of the Church of England.

Source: Dictionary of National Biography and Dictionary of Evangelical Biography, edited by Donald Lewis (1995)

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