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Johann Toltschig (1703-1764)

Johann Toltschig was born in Moravia, the son of a local magistrate. He was converted by the preaching of the Moravian Christian David in 1723 and was ordered a year later by his own father to abandon religious meetings. Rather than submit to this command, Toltschig moved to Herrnhut.

After studying gardening in Poland for three years, Toltschig traveled to England with David Nitschmann and Wenzel Neisser to establish fraternal links with Christians there. In 1735 he moved to Georgia as the 'congregational warden' for the Moravian settlers and established friendly relations with John Wesley and Benjamin Ingham. Toltschig returned to London and in 1738 accompanied a party of English visitors, including Wesley, on a visit to Moravian congregations in Germany.

In October 1739 Toltschig was sent to assist Benjamin Ingham's mission in Yorkshire. Despite his poor command of English, he engaged in open-air preaching and was present in London in 1741 when Wesley withdrew with his followers from the Fetter Lane Society. Toltschig refused to take over the Fetter Lane leadership and instead divided his time between the Moravian cause in Yorkshire and London.

In 1742 Toltschig was appointed elder of the first formally established English Moravian congregation and received ordination during a brief visit to Germany. He established the settlement at Fulneck in Yorkshire before moving in 1748 to Dublin to lead the work there. He was back again in London in 1751 and visited Bethlehem in Pennsylvania in 1752 and 1753. Toltschig resumed leadership of the Dublin Moravians in November 1753.

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

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