Staniforth, Sampson

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Methodist preacher, born in December 1720 in Sheffield. He was apprenticed to a baker before enlisting in the army in 1739. He served in Flanders and was helped to faith by a fellow soldier, one of John Haime's converts. While wintering in Ghent he had a vision of the crucified Christ and experienced the forgiveness of his sins. Following the battle of Fontenoy in May 1745 his regiment returned to England. While stationed at Deptford he had opportunities to hear John Wesley preach in London and found himself a wife. He left the army in 1748 and set up in business in Deptford, where he built a preaching house in 1757. He himself preached there and elsewhere in the neighbourhood and later gave the lease of the building to Wesley. He was ordained by the Greek Bishop Erasmus in 1764, but declined to use his credentials, knowing it would 'offend' his brethren. John Wesley encouraged him in the work and in 1771 he opened another preaching house in Rotherhithe. For a time he preached at Shoreham in support of Vincent Perronet, the vicar. A devoted Wesleyan, for almost 50 years he was a Methodist preacher alongside running his business, so never strictly an 'itinerant'. He died at Deptford early in 1799.

  • Lives of the Early Methodist Preachers, 4 pp.109-51
  • Charles Atmore, Methodist Worthies (1801), pp.400-7
  • O.S. Watkins, Soldiers and Preachers Too (1906), pp.35-50
  • Susan Gane, 'Common soldiers, same-sex love, and religion in the early eighteenth-century British army', in Gender & History, Vol.25, no.3, November 2013, pp.637-51
  • Oxford DNB


Entry written by: HMG
Category: Person
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