He became a Methodist itinerant c. 1742/1743 and attended the 1745 Conference. John Wesley at first thought highly of him, but by 1749 had begun to have doubts about him and in 1751 in the face of evidence of immoral conduct at Bradford-on-Avon was forced to expel him. Wheatley quickly established himself as an independent preacher in Norwich, where he proved a controversial figure, attracting both enthusiastic support and violent hostility. The 'Tabernacle' built for him in 1751 was badly damaged by the mob, but another was built in 1753. In 1754 he was charged in the Consistory Court with immorality, found guilty in 1756 and lost two appeals against the verdict. Wesley unwisely attempted to salvage the Tabernacle society but found its members ungovernable. The WM society in Norwich was compromised for some years by being associated with Wheatley in the public mind. He died in Bristol on 27 May 1775.