Barber, John
1757-1816; e.m. 1781)

Click to enlarge

Born at Kinder, near Hayfield, Derbys, on 16 December 1757, he began life as a farm labourer, but educated himself by attending evening classes. Spiritually awakened by an earthquake in 1777, he was converted on Easter Sunday 1778. He became a local preacher and at Macclesfield in 1782 found himself having to preach before John Wesley, who then appointed him to the Birmingham Circuit. Received into full connexion in 1783, he was named as one of the 'Legal Hundred' the following year, and in 1788 Wesley ordained him for the work in Scotland. Noted for his independence of mind, he was a member of the Committee of Privileges and was elected President of the Conference in 1807 and again in 1815. He marked a significant shift in Methodism when he declared in 1799 that 'for the weak to be strengthened, the tempted succoured, the wavering confirmed and the children of God fed' was as important as converting sinners. He died suddenly on 28 April 1816, being the first President to die in office.


'Herculean in constitution and make; - round, sandy face and regular features. - Formed for toil. - As masculine in mind as in frame, and no less comprehensive. - A ready, off-hand speaker… Powerful voice. -Sterling integrity. - A kind friend. To be dreaded as an opponent. - Unflinching. - Defective in education.'

Wesleyan Takings (1840), p.310

  • WM Magazine, 1867 pp.625-6
  • Wesley and his Successors (1895) pp.73-4
  • Blackwell Dictionary of Evangelical Biography