Thomas Coke Papers

Date range: 1775-1814.

Papers of Dr Thomas Coke (1747-1814), Methodist missionary.

Coke was born in Brecon, the son of a medical practitioner. He was educated at Brecon Grammar School and Jesus College, Oxford, and was elected mayor of Brecon shortly after graduating in 1768.

Coke took Holy Orders in August 1772 but was ejected from his curacy in Somerset for trying to run the parish on Methodist principles. He moved to London and placed himself under the direction of John Wesley, swiftly reaching a position of prominence.

Coke has been described as being "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" (Vickers1).

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 of Europe, 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 elsewhere.

Finding aids

  • Published catalogue, Gareth Lloyd, 'The Papers of Dr Thomas Coke: A Catalogue', with an introduction by Dr John A. Vickers1, 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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