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Thomas Maxfield (d.1784)

Thomas Maxfield was born in Bristol. He was converted in 1739 by George Whitefield and acted as a sub-pastor to Wesley before moving to London where he was appointed a band-leader at the Foundery. In 1741 he became the first Methodist lay-preacher and for many years remained high in Wesley's estimation.

Maxfield was ordained into the Church of England for the purpose of being better able to help Wesley as his chief assistant in London. He finally broke away from the Methodists in 1763 over his sympathy for the views of the visionary George Bell. There was some talk of reunion in later years and John Wesley preached in Maxfield's independent chapel. Despite this reapproachment the division between them remained permanent.

Source: Dictionary of Evangelical Biography 1739-1860, edited by Donald M. Lewis (1995), Dictionary of National Biography and Encyclopedia of World Methodism (1974)

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