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John Rattenbury (1806-1879)

John Rattenbury was born in Tavistock, Devon, son of a carpenter. Rattenbury's family moved constantly in search of work and he was in Manchester at the time of his conversion as a teenager. He subsequently joined the Methodist Society in 1822, became a local preacher in 1825 and entered the itinerancy in 1827.

He was married in 1832 to Mary Owen, daughter of a prominent Sheffield coal merchant and Methodist layman. They had six children, one of whom, Henry Owen Rattenbury, followed his father into the Wesleyan ministry.

John Rattenbury was regarded as one of the foremost preachers of his generation - in one circuit a thousand new members were added through his ministry. He was voted into the Legal Hundred in 1851 and served as President of Conference in 1861. Rattenbury withdrew from circuit work in 1873 to concentrate on fund-raising. By 1877 he had raised £100,000 for the Connexion. Rattenbury died at Highgate in London in December 1879.

Rattenbury was the founder of one of the most distinguished families in Methodism. Since 1828 four successive generations of the family have produced Methodist ministers including two Presidents of Conference and John Ernest Rattenbury, one of the most important Methodist theologians of his day.

Source: Dictionary of Evangelical Biography, edited by Donald Lewis (1995) and Rat-Rhyme by H. Morley Rattenbury (Yorkshire branch of the Wesley Historical Society c.1990

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