Murlin, John
1722-1799; e.m. 1754

Early itinerant, sometimes called 'the weeping prophet'. He was born in August 1722 at St. Stephen Branwell, Cornwall and apprenticed as a carpenter. A convert of Methodist preaching in April 1749, he served as a local preacher until in 1754 John Wesley invited him to become a full-time travelling preacher. In 1760, he was one of the three preachers in the Norwich Circuit who took it upon themselves to administer the Sacrament. He gave 45 years to a ministry that took him to circuits in Ireland and England and was marked by much fruitfulness. Wesley described him as 'a wise and zealous man...and wherever he goes the work of God prospers in his hand.' A Christian poet, he published Sacred Hymns on Various Subjects (1781) and an elegy on John Fletcher (1788). He retired to High Wycombe because of poor health in 1787 and died there, following a stroke, on 7 July 1799. At his own request he was buried in Wesley's vault in the graveyard at Wesley's Chapel.

In 1762 he married Elizabeth Berrisford, née Walker (1710-1786) of London, who had remained faithful to Methodism despite her husband's discouragement. She became her husband's companion and support throughout his ministry, until her death in Bristol in 1786. Her husband's memoir of her in the Arminian Magazine describes her as 'an ornament to her [Christian] profession' and 'a pattern of good works'.

  • John Murlin, 'An Account of Mrs. Elizabeth Murlin…', in Arminian Magazine, 1786, pp.422-28
  • Charles Atmore, Methodist Memorial (1801)
  • Lives of the Early Methodist Preachers 3 pp.293-306
  • Janet Kelly, 'Presenting a Ministry of Wives: A moving picture from the mainstream Methodist press', in Norma Virgoe (ed.), Angels and Impudent Women: women in Methodism (2007) pp.16-20
  • Oxford DNB