Wesley Family Papers

Date range: 1701-1883.

The Wesleys were one of the most remarkable families of 18th-century England, producing the two brothers, John and Charles, who founded the Methodist movement.

The collection includes approximately one third of John Wesley’s extant correspondence, comprising just over 700 autograph letters, together with his diaries, sermons, annotated printed material and miscellaneous notebooks.

There is also a substantial archive relating to the Gwynne family of Garth, Brecknockshire, and its connection with early Welsh Calvinistic Methodism, and to the Waller family of London.

Among those represented are:

  • Samuel Wesley (1662-1735) and his wife Susanna (1670-1742)
  • their children:
    • Samuel (1690-1739)
    • Emily (Mrs Robert Harper) (1691-1770)
    • Mary (Mrs John Whitelamb) (1696-1734)
    • Mehtabel (Mrs William Wright) (1697-1751)
    • Anne (Mrs John Lambert) (b 1702)
    • Martha (Mrs Westley Hall) (1707?-1791)
    • Kezia (1710-1741)
  • the children of Charles Wesley (1707-1788):
    • Sally (1759-1828)
    • Samuel (1766-1837)
  • Samuel's children:
    • Charles (1793-1859)
    • John (d 1862)
    • Samuel Sebastian (1810-1876)
    • Eliza (1819-1895)

The Wesley family papers consist of original letters, with some manuscript verse, notebooks and other miscellaneous items. Among the subjects covered are the musical careers of the two sons of the Rev. Charles Wesley and the development of the Methodist Church up to the death of John Wesley.

The collection is of paramount importance for studies of early Methodism and for the wider insights it provides into Church and society in the 18th and early 19th centuries.

The collection is divided into two parts, loose manuscripts and folio bound volumes, which have been separately catalogued, although the material in each is identical in form.

The loose papers of John and Charles Wesley were separated many years ago, but the collection does contain many letters written to John and Charles, and the volumes hold some material written by both men.

See also

The Charles Wesley papers, the Early Preachers collection and the Hartley Victoria College collection.

Finding aids

Catalogue available online via ELGAR.


The John Rylands Library

Using the reading rooms in the John Rylands Library