Alder, Dr Robert
1796-1873; e.m.1816

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WM missionary in Canada, baptized at Berwick-upon-Tweed on 21 August 1796. He served in Nova Scotia and Montreal 1817-1828 and as a Secretary of the WMMS 1833-1851 during a period of vacillating relations between British and Canadian Methodism. Between 1833 and 1847 he was involved as representative of the WMMS in negotiations over Canadian Methodism's relationship to the MEC and to British Methodism. Seen by his Canadian critics as conservative and autocratic, he nevertheless presided over the first Canadian Conference following Canadian Methodism's return to the British fold in 1847. He received a doctorate from Middletown University. He resigned from the ministry in 1853, obtained Anglican orders, served in Gibraltar as Convict Chaplain and later as Archdeacon. He died on 31 December 1873.


'Dr. Alder had just given signal proof of his capacity by the most successful accomplishment of a difficult mission of unification in Canada, where amidst intense political and ecclesiastical excitement, he had welded together the two rival Methodist bodies, the Wesleyan Methodists and the Methodist Episcopal Church, reconciling all the old outstanding difficulties; and in the course of his negotiations had received so much attention, hospitality, and deference, from the Governor of Upper Canada, Sir John Colton, that the Missionary Committee felt bopund to transmit to his Excellency a vote of thanks.'

Benjamin Gregory, Side Lights on the Conflicts of Methodism (1898), pp.140-41

'Light hair; - full face; A petticoat coat, with its body like the tight stays of a female. - Somewhat stiff and stately. - Expresses himself with propriety rather than fluency. - A good, though not a pleasing voice; - a respectable, though not an attractive preacher. Something austere in the expression of the face, when not lighted up by conversation. - No classical attainments; but exceedingly useful in the Missionary department.'

Wesleyan Takings (1840), p. 320

  • G.G. Findlay and W.W. Holdsworth, The History of the Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society (1921-1924) vol. 1
  • Dictionary of Evangelical Biography
  • Susan I Jackson, In the Shadow of a Mighty Rock: A history of the Gibraltar Methodist Church (2009)

Entry written by: JAV
Category: Person
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