If you ancestor was a local preacher
Local preachers (i.e. lay preachers) have played an important role in Methodism since the earliest days of the movement. With separation from the Church of England by the end of the eighteenth century, a clear distinction was recognised between ordained Methodist ministers and the local preachers who assisted them.
In addition to the personal papers and periodicals, which contain information about all lay Methodists (see section 2 above), the most important source of information about local preachers is the Circuit or Preaching Plan.
Circuit Plans contain the names and often, from the late nineteenth century onwards, the addresses of local preachers, together with a list of their appointments to preach at particular chapels. The collection at the Methodist Archive is the largest in Britain and covers two hundred years of Methodist history. It is representative of every Methodist denomination and most circuits, but it is not comprehensive.