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Francis Okely (1719-1794)

Francis Okely was born in Bedford, the son of a barber and wig-maker. He was educated at Charterhouse and St John's College Cambridge. Okely was converted in 1736 and founded a religious society in Bedford. He visited Bristol in September 1739 and witnessed the first stirrings of revival there.

Okely was acquainted with the Wesleys but was particularly influenced by the Moravians. He travelled to Germany in 1744 and 1746-47 and at some point was ordained. He ministered in Bristol in 1748 and later preached for the Moravian cause in the North of England.

Okely left the active Moravian ministry in 1757 after undergoing something of a crisis of faith. He toured Ireland with John Wesley in 1758 but would not join the itinerancy. He was refused Anglican ordination in 1763 because of his Moravian orders and in 1767 took pastoral charge of a Moravian congregation in Northampton.

In his later years, Okely was increasingly inclined to mysticism.

Source: Dictionary of Evangelical Biography 1739-1860, edited by Donald M. Lewis (1995)

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