A leading historian of Methodism, he was born on 15 February 1930 at Wolverhamptonand grew up at Beckminster church, where his inquiring mind was fostered. He became a lifelong supporter of Wolverhampton Wanderers and was the first pupil from Wolverhampton Grammar School to read History at Cambridge. While at St. Catharine's College he won the J.N. Figgis Prize for History in 1952. After a year as a supply teacher he was accepted for the ministry and trained at Didsbury College (later Wesley College), Bristol, winning the Fernley Prize for Theology. He gained a Bristol MA for a thesis on Anglicanism and Methodism 1791-1850, on which the early chapters of his Conflict and Reconciliation (1985) are based. After twelve years in circuit, in 1968 he became Methodist chaplain at Leeds University and Polytechnic; then, from 1970 to 1981 was tutor in Historical Studies at the Queen's College, Birmingham. During eight years in the Halifax Circuit he gave the Fernley Hartley Lecture in 1982, which contributed to Conflict and Reconciliation, and the Wesley Historical Society Lecture in 1988 on 'Victorian Values - or Whatever Happened to John Wesley's Scriptural Holiness?' His other publications include Introducing Theology (1975) as a more traditional alternative to Doing Theology, contributions to volumes 2 and 3 of A History of Methodism in Great Britain and Ireland, John Wesley, the Evangelical Revival and the Rise of Methodism (2002) and, for a wider readership, volumes on Wesleyanism and modern Methodism in the 'Exploring Methodism' series. The Historian as Preacher was published in 2006 and Historians and Theologians in Dialogue in 2011. He also contributed to Conference reports on Ordination (1974), the Ministry (1988), the nature of the Church (1995) and the Toronto Blessing (1997). His encyclopaedic knowledge is matched by an enviable gift for communication and in 1986 he was given a Cambridge BD honouring his published work.
He served on the connexional Faith and Order Committee 1968-1980, on the Doctrinal Committee of Appeal 1973-1978 and on the Candidates Committee from 1968-1971 and was chair of the Probationers' Oversight Committee 1990-1994. He died at Horwich in November 2018/