Wesle Bach ('Minor Wesleyans')

This was a protest movement within Welsh WM, primarily of local preachers against ministerial authority. In August 1831 twelve local preachers met near Menai Bridge and proposed that there should be interchange of pulpits, lay and ministerial, between circuits and that local preachers should receive modest payment when travelling in circuits other than their own. These proposals received a hostile reception and the reformers seceded, throwing in their lot with Independent Methodism (already home to a Liverpool Welsh church that had seceded in 1818 under the leadership of Thomas Jones) and hardening their attitude towards autocracy. They took control of Shiloh, Tregarth, one of the strongest churches (it returned to WM in 1837) and prospered for a few years, especially in Anglesey and Caernarfonshire. In 1838 they transferred their allegiance to the WMA, from which they expected more missionary help, but by the late 1850s only half a dozen societies remained.

The Reform movement of the 1850s met with little success in North Wales in the face of opposition from Thomas Aubrey, but gained some 500 adherents in Liverpool and South Wales.


'1. First and foremost, the state of the denomination was considered. It was found to be unsatisfactory. The obstacles to progress must therefore be removed. 2. It was agreed that the local preachers of one circuit should interchange as often as possible with those of another, and that they should be recompensed for their labours. 3. It was decided that "foreign" local preachers should visit each circuit, so that congregations should hear a greater variety of talents; and that at least two should visit each congregation every quarter. 4. A quarterly collection should be made in each chapel towards defraying the expenses of such visiting preachers. A secretary and treasurer were to be appointed to deal with this. 5. It was agreed that a married preacher with a family should receive 14s. per week, and a single man 9s. per week, while travelling in a circuit other than his own. 6. It was resolved that a meeting should be held in North Wales to station preachers for the coming year, to which every circuit should send a local preacher and a leader. Circuit ministers could attend if they wished. 7. It was "earnestly requested" that ministers should interchange once a quarter, again in order to secure a variety of preaching.'

Minutes of a meeting of local preachers in Llanrwst on September 6th, 1831, translated from the Welsh, in A.H. Williams, Welsh Wesleyan Methodism 1800-1858 (1935) pp.222-3

  • A.H. Williams, Welsh Wesleyan Methodism 1800-1858 (1935) pp.221-52
  • G.T. Roberts in Bathafarn 3 (1948) pp.42-52, 10 (1955) pp.52-53

Entry written by: GTH
Category: Denomination
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