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Benjamin Ingham (1712-72)

Benjamin Ingham was born at Ossett in Yorkshire. He was educated at Batley Grammar School and Queen's College Oxford where he became a member of the Holy Club. He was ordained in 1735 and accompanied the Wesleys to Georgia. Ingham had a conversion experience in North America and after his return to England began to evangelise his native county, enjoying great success.

During the early years of his evangelical ministry, he was strongly influenced by the Moravians and in 1742 placed his societies in Yorkshire under their control. Two years later he gave them land for a settlement at Fulneck which became the Moravian headquarters in the North.

In 1741, Ingham married Lady Margaret Hastings, sister-in-law to the Countess of Huntingdon. During the later 1740s, Ingham began to drift away from the Moravians and by 1754 had withdrawn his societies from their supervision. It was proposed by Charles Wesley at the Methodist Conference in 1755 that the eighty Inghamite congregations be joined with the Methodists, but this was rejected by John Wesley. A year later, Ingham began to ordain his preachers.

In 1760 Ingham fell under the influence of Robert Sandeman and John Glas. This led to a bitter split within the Inghamite church from which it never recovered. Many of the preachers left and in the end only thirteen societies remained.

A vestige of Ingham's Church still survives in the Lancashire/Yorkshire border area.

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

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