Pocock, George

Born in Hungerford, he was the younger bother of the Rev. John Pocock, a Church of England clergyman, and baptized there on 29 May 1774. He joined the WM at Frome in 1797. In 1800 he became the proprietor of Prospect Place Academy in Bristol, a successful private school that he owned throughout the remainder of his life. He joined Portland Chapel and soon afterwards became a local preacher and a trustee of several WM chapels. He was not a trustee of Portland Chapel itself and became embroiled in a dispute with the trustees there regarding the chapel organ he owned, controlled and played. Eventually he removed it to his academy.

In addition to his preaching commitments in the Bristol and Kingswood circuits, in 1806 he initiated the formation of a Society in his home town of Hungerford, and in Swindon in 1813. In 1814, using his practical skills, he contructed a tent capable of holding 500 people. Between 1814 and 1819 he, with John Pyer and other WM local preachers, used first one and then, from 1818, a second tent in Bristol, parts of Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire to supplement WM resources. In the summer of 1819, 400 members were added to the Bristol society, but the Conference that year withheld its approval and Pyer was criticized and excluded. In support, Pocock refused to let his name continue on the plan and was expelled early in 1820 because he refused to accept WM control of the tents and the chapels he had financed. There was further dispute over his removal of the organ he had provided at Portland Chapel. Pocock led theTent Methodist sect until it ceased to exist in about 1832. In 1835 he was re-admitted to WM and became once again a local preacher in the Bristol North Circuit.

Pocock's inventive skill was demonstrated in the 'char-volant', a kite-impelled road vehicle which he exhibited around the country. He expounded his theories in The Aeropleustic Art, or navigation in the air by the use of kites or buoyant sails (London, 1827; reprinted 1969). He died in Bristol on 9 November 1843 and his funeral service was held at Portland Chapel on 14 November. One of his grandsons was the famous cricketer, W.G. Grace.


Jacob Stanley to Henry Moore, 20 December 1839:

'Your old friend George Pocock has been reunited to us and is now on our Plan as a Local Preacher. Much opposition was made to his readmission, but now I believe the general feeling is that of gratitude for his return. He seems in a humble and friendly state of mind.

(Original at Drew University)

  • George Pocock, A Statement of Facts connected with the ejectment of Certain Ministers from the ... Wesleyan Methodists... (Bristol, 1820)
  • A Correct Statement of Facts...[the reply of the Bristol leaders' meeting], (Bristol, 1820)
  • Pocock, Pyer and Smith, Facts without a Veil, or a further account... (Bristol, 1820)
  • George Eayrs, Wesley and Kingswood and its Free Churches (Bristol, 1911)
  • J.L. Hodgson, The History of Aeronautics in Great Britain (1924) pp.370-71
  • A.J. Lambert, The Chapel on the Hill (Bristol, 1930) pp.50-55
  • John K. Lander, Itinerant Temples: Tent Methodism 1814-1832 (Carlisle, 2003)
  • John Lander, "George Pocock (1774-1843): Founder of Tent Methodism", WHS Proceedings 62.4 (February 2020), pp. 164-76

Entry written by: JKL
Category: Person
Comment on this entry