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Thomas Coke Papers

Date range: 1775-1814

Medium: Archive

Papers of Dr Thomas Coke (1747-1814), Anglican-Methodist missionary and Church leader. Coke was born in Brecon, the son of an apothecary. He was educated at Brecon Grammar School and Jesus College, Oxford, and was elected mayor (bailiff) of Brecon in 1770.

Coke was ordained into the Anglican diaconate in 1770 and received priestly orders in 1772. Appointed to a curacy in Somerset in 1771, Coke was ejected from his post at Easter 1777 for trying to run the parish on Methodist principles. He then moved to London and placed himself under the direction of John Wesley, swiftly reaching a position of prominence within the Wesleyan movement.

Coke has been described as 'in some respects the most important of John Wesley's recruits to Methodism from the ranks of the Anglican clergy. He was certainly the most dedicated of Wesley's clerical supporters.' His greatest achievement was in the field of foreign missions. He made a total of eighteen trans-Atlantic trips, and is regarded as one of the founders of the Methodist Church in the United States and West Indies.

Coke also made repeated visits to Ireland and the Continent, and served as President of the British Conference in 1797 and 1805. In December 1813 Coke set sail from England to establish a mission in India but died at sea on 3 May 1814.

Coke maintained an extensive correspondence throughout his life on a wide range of subjects, and the collection consists largely of these letters and associated papers. Many of the letters are copies of originals held in other repositories.

Further information:

  • Part of the Methodist Archives and Research Centre (MARC). For more information see our subject page for Methodist Collections.
  • Published catalogue, Gareth Lloyd, 'The Papers of Dr Thomas Coke: A Catalogue', with an introduction by Dr John A. Vickers, Bulletin of the John Rylands University Library of Manchester, vol. 76, no. 2 (1994), pp. 205-320.
  • Catalogue available online via ELGAR.


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