Lavington, Dr George

Bishop of Exeter 1747-1762, born at Mildenhall, Wilts on 18 January 1684. He is particularly remembered in Methodist circles as the author of The Enthusiasm of the Methodists and Papists Compared,published in two parts in 1749 with a third in 1751. A new annotated edition edited by R. Polwhele appeared in 1820. This was provoked by the publication of a paper claiming to be part of his visitation charge and representing him as a supporter of Methodism. Lavington's work appeared at the height of anti-Jacobite feelings. In addition to recording scurrilous charges against Wesley and his followers, it denied the operation of the Holy Spirit in Methodist conversions, attributing them to physical and psychological factors. It produced replies by George Whitefield (1749), Vincent Perronet (1749) and Wesley himself (1750, 1751, 1752). Lavington later mounted a similar attack on the Moravians in The Moravians Compared and Detected (1755). Despite being open to criticism as a pluralist, he was a conscientious diocesan bishop. A reconciliation took place in 1762, when Wesley dined with the bishop after receiving the Sacrament with him in Exeter cathedral, within weeks of his death.

  • Frank Baker in WHS Proceedings, 34 pp.37-42
  • G.R. Cragg(ed.), in John Wesley, The Appeals to Men of Reason and religion ans Certain Related Open Letters (Works of John Wesley, Bicentennial Edition (Oxford, 1975) pp.353-436
  • Oliver A. Beckerlegge, The Lavington Correspondence (Bunbury, 1980) (also printed in WHS Proceedings, vol. 42)
  • Colin M. Haydon, 'Bishop George Lavington of Exeter and The Enthusiasm of Methodists and Papists Compar'd', in Southern History, vol.37, 2015, pp. 60-85
  • Oxford DNB


Entry written by: JAV
Category: Person
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