Forest Methodists

Otherwise known as 'Magic Methodists'), they were a group in Delamere Forest, Cheshire, under the leadership of James Crawfoot, a local preacher and mystic. At service held in his home people fell into trances and claimed to experience visions in which preachers admired in their circle were shown in a certain hierarchy. They believed that spiritual power could be called down by prayer and conveyed by the laying on of hands. Crawfoot exercised a strong influence on Hugh Bourne and William Clowes, who regarded him for a time as a spiritual mentor. However, the visions of the Forest Methodists were short-lived and little was heard of them after 1811. They represented a phase in PM development which passed as Bourne started to teach that grace and power could be present without spectacular gifts.

  • George Herod, Biographical Sketches of some of those Preachers ... of the Primitive Methodist Connexion(2nd edn., 1851)
  • H.B. Kendall, The Origin and History of the Primitive Methodist Church (1906) 1 pp.147-54
  • Henry D. Rack, How Primitive was Primitive Methodism? (Englesea Brook, 1996)
  • John W.B. Tomlinson, 'The Magic Methodists and their Influence on the early Primitive Methodist Movement', in Kate Cooper and Jeremy Gregory (eds.), Signs, Wonders, Miracles... (Woodbridge, 2005)
  • John N. Brittain, 'Hugh Bourne and the Magic Methodists', in Methodist History, XLVI:3 (April 2008), pp.132-40

Entry written by: JAD
Category: Denomination
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