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Thomas Johnson (1720-97)

Thomas Johnson was born in Wakefield, Yorkshire, the youngest of three children. Johnson's father died when he was six and he was raised by his mother - she sent him to school until he was aged fourteen and raised him in a devout Anglican atmosphere.

In 1738 he was sent to live with a relation in the nearby village of Horbury to learn the trade of carpentry. He fell into some dissolute ways such as playing cards, dancing and attending cock-fights but still went to Church on a Sunday.

Johnson first heard Methodist preaching in 1748 but was unimpressed by their 'loud and vehement manner of speaking'.

He nevertheless continued to attend Methodist meetings and was finally converted after reading John Wesley's journal and through the influence of a Methodist neighbour. Johnson joined the Methodist society and became a local preacher, experiencing some family hostility and persecution by the authorities.

He entered the itinerancy in 1752 and exercised an active circuit ministry for thirty-two years, mainly in the North of England, but he was also stationed in Ireland.

During his time in the York circuit, he was impressed into the army but was released after a short time. Upon his superannuation, he went to live in Birstal not far from where he grew up.

Source: Minutes of Conference 1798 and Methodist Magazine 1798, 214-220, 265-217 and 319-324.

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