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Thomas Richards (1717-98)

Thomas Richards was baptised in Cardigan in South Wales, the son of an Anglican minister. He matriculated at Trinity College Oxford but does not appear to have graduated. Richards came into contact with the Methodists at a very early date and by 1740 was a member of a band formed by John Wesley at Bath. He started preaching soon after and was referred to by John Wesley in later years as one of the first itinerants.

In 1742 he was listed as one of the class leaders at the Foundery and in the early months of 1744 was exercising an itinerant ministry in Yorkshire and Derbyshire before attending the first conference. In 1746 John Wesley appointed him to have charge of Methodist premises in Newcastle and he was also one of the trustees of properties in Bristol and Kingswood.

Richards left the regular itinerancy in 1748 to teach languages at Kingswood School and the following year he married Mary Davy the school housekeeper. By 1751 he had lost the confidence of Wesley in his teaching ability and he re-joined the itinerancy.

In 1759 he entered the Anglican ministry with the assistance of the Countess of Huntingdon and served thirty years as Curate of St Sepulchre's in London.

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

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