Bray, William Trewartha ('Billy')

Kerley Downs chapel   Click to enlarge
Cornish tin-miner, was born at Twelveheads, Kea, near Truro on 1 June 1794, the son of a Methodist tin-miner. Leaving home at 17 to work in Devon, he lived a profligate life until converted at 28. He became a Bible Christian local preacher in 1824 and was noted for his unconventional and enthusiastic manner, calling himself 'the King's son'. He was strongly opposed to drinking and smoking. He died at Twelveheads on 25 May 1868. Many of his eccentric sayings and exploits were lovingly recorded. Of the six chapels he built with his own hands, only one (Kerley Downs) survives. Built in 1836, it closed in 1982, but was conveyed to the newly formed 'Billy Bray Memorial Trust' and reopened in 1984.

  • F.W. Bourne, Billy Bray, the King's Son (1869)
  • Oxford DNB
  • A.M. Allchin, 'Billy Bray and Foolish Dick: Methodist Fools for Christ?', in Epworth Review, 29:4, October 2002, pp.54-61
  • Chris Wright, Billy Bray in his own words (Godalming, 2004)
  • Methodist Recorder, 1 June 2018

Entry written by: JAV
Category: Person
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