Tyerman, Luke
1820-89; e.m. 1844

WM minister, born on 26 February 1820 at Osmotherly and trained at Didsbury College. His active ministry ended after 19 years because of ill health, but he devoted 25 years to Methodist history and wrote a number of standard works, including lives of Samuel Wesley senior (1866), John Wesley (1871), John Fletcher ('Wesley's designated successor') (1882) and George Whitefield (1876-7), and The Oxford Methodists (1873). He died in London on 20 March 1889.

His second wife was the sister of Emerson Muschamp Bainbridge.


'A thoroughgoing Methodist triumphalism emanates from every page of Tyerman's work [i.e. his three-volume biography of Wesley], beginning with the first sentence: "Is it not a truth that Methodism is the greatest fact in the history of the church of Christ?" Tyerman clearly states, however, that "nothing derogatory to the subject of these memoirs has been kept back;… the work of the biographer is not to hide the facts but to publish them." … In some ways, Tyerman is not as protective as [Henry] Moore; he is willing, as he says, to look at "the specks as well as the sunshine in John Wesley's history". But, at the same time, he is always ready to defend Wesley's "honour and honest fame".

Tyerman's main negative bias becomes evident rather quickly. "High churchism" of any sort is to be decried as an unfortunate blemish in the Wesleyan story since these "silly popish practices" too much resemble "the pernicious nonsense of the high church party of the present day" and should therefore never receive the approval of any evangelical Protestant… Tyerman is also quick to criticize the "foolish statements" of the Moravians and the "antinomian poison" of the Calvinists, both of which tinged Wesley for a time but from which Wesley was spared by the "great truths" that eventually pervaded his mind and heart.

'Although Tyerman does admit that "Wesley was not faultless", the tireless biographer nevertheless explains away nearly every questionable action and thought… In th end, Tyerman is able to overlook almost every fault he has set forth in the three volumes and conclude that Wesley's "physique, his genius, his wit, his penetration, his judgment, his memory, his beneficence, his religion, his diligence, his conversation, his courteousness, his manners, and his dress - made him as perfect as we ever expect man to be on this side of heaven".'

Richard P. Heitzenrater, The Elusive Mr. Wesley (Nashville, 1984) II pp.185-6

  • R.P. Heitzenrater, The Elusive Mr. Wesley (Nashville, 1984), vol. 2 pp.184-87