'Halifax Circular'

A letter addressed to 'The Preachers in general and the Assistants in particular' was signed by nine senior itinerants who met in Halifax on 30 March 1791, four weeks after the death of John Wesley. The nine were William Thompson, John Pawson, Robert Roberts, John Allen, Richard Rodda, Samuel Bradburn, Thomas Tennant, Thomas Hanby and Christopher Hopper. The purpose of the Circular was to advocate a corporate form of connexional government, rather than 'another king in Israel' as Wesley's successor. The 1791 Conference chose its prime mover, Thompson, as the first President and adopted many of its proposals, including an annual presidency and the formation ofDistricts with Chairmen authorized to exercise disciplinary powers between Conferences. The more controversial sacramental issues were left unresolved.

  • G. Smith, A History of Wesleyan Methodism (1858-61) 2, pp.85-7, Appendix E
  • WHS Proceedings30, pp.165-6
  • T.S.A. Macquiban, in Halifax Antiquarian Society, 1992, pp.29-43
  • A History of the Methodist Church in Great Britain, vol. 4,'Documents and Source Material' (1988), pp.241-2