Hall, Westley

He was born at Salisbury on 17 March 1711. John Wesley was his tutor at Lincoln College, Oxford in the early 1730s, and he became a devout member of the 'Holy Club' and a friend of the Wesley family. Both John and Charles Wesley and their mother Susanna were impressed by his piety; but he proved to be a man of great charm who pursued his own interests ruthlessly, ignoring the consequences of his infidelity and debauchery. He deceitfully proposed to Keziah Wesley while already secretly engaged to her sister Martha, and married Martha, to her lifelong regret. 'Kezzy' never recovered from the experience.

After a curacy at Wootton Rivers, Wilts, he moved to Salisbury in 1735, where he established one of the first Methodist societies. During a period in London, 1739-1743, he came under Moravian influence. Back in Salisbury, he became increasingly idiosyncratic and morally irresponsible, defending polygamy and deserting his wife. He eventually left with his mistress for the West Indies, where he lived for most of the 1750s. Returning to England after her death, he died in Bristol on 3 January 1776. John Wesley conducted his funeral and wrote, perhaps optimistically, if not gullibly, of his 'deep repentance'. His wife Martha and her brother John became close and he supported her in her later years, when she also became part of Samuel Johnson's circle of friends. She died in London 12 July 1791.

See also Antinomianism.

  • Tyerman, The Oxford Methodists (1873) pp.386-411
  • H.J. Foster in in WHS Proceedings, 5 pp. 146-51
  • 'Westley Hall and the Wesley Family', in WHS Proceedings, 22 pp.28-31
  • F.E. Maser, The Story of John Wesley's Sisters (1988) pp.86-97
  • Oxford DNB