Everett, James
1784-1872; e.m. 1807

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WM and UMFC minister, author and leading WM Reformer, he was born at Alnwick of Methodist parents on 16 May 1784. He met John Wesley a year before his death and developed a lifelong veneration for him. Apprenticed to a grocer, he was converted in 1803 and became a local preacher in Sunderland in 1804. The brothers Thomas and Jacob Stanley encouraged him to enter the ministry, though as a result of his own hesitation he was not received into full connexion until 1811. In Barnsley he became firm friends with the poet-printer James Montgomery, who published many of his works. He had already written a reply to an attack on Methodism, which he submitted to Jabez Bunting for criticism. The two struck up a measure of friendship which may explain his appointment to London to assist at the Book Room. Though he stayed less than a year, it gave him the chance to meet Charles Wesley's widow just before her death.

He superannuated in 1821 because of persistent bronchitis. He now set about writing in earnest, producing histories of Methodism in Sheffield (1823) and Manchester (1827). He returned to circuit work in 1834, but retired a second time in 1842, producing biographies of Daniel Isaac (1839), William Dawson (1842) and Adam Clarke (1843, 1849), among others. He had already shown himself an outspoken critic of the policies and methods of the Conference (e.g. in The Disputants (1835) and Centenary Sketches of Ministerial Character (1841)) and was accused of being the author of the Fly Sheets, which began to appear in 1844. Because he refused to answer the charge unless evidence was produced, he was expelled for contumacy at the Conference of 1849. The next few years were devoted to reform meetings up and down the country. In addition he edited a Reform hymn-book and one for the UMFC (1860). He chaired the meetings to prepare for that union and, almost inevitably, was elected the first UMFC President. He died on 10 May 1872. His extensive library was sold to Victoria Park College, Manchester.


'He was then [1841] in all the sternness of his strength. He was a stalwart, muscular Northumbrian, and, like William Griffith, built for popular effectiveness. There was a patriarchal gravity, simplicity and homliness about him which arrested and impressed and excited expectation. His individuality was strongly marked.'

Benjamin Gregory, Autobiographical Recollections (1903), pp.262-3

'Mr. Everett I barely remember as an able rather than a popular man, controversially inclined, who failed to acquire influence in the Conference, partly because he had a feeling of jealousy, which he cared not to conceal, towards Dr. Bunting.'

R. Denny Urlin, Father Reece, the Old Methodist Minister (1901), pp.28-9

  • Robert A. West, Sketches of Wesleyan Preachers (1849) pp. 144-61
  • Richard Chew, James Everett, a biography (1875)
  • G.J. Stevenson, Methodist Worthies (1884-1886), 6 pp.913-21
  • B. Gregory, Sidelights on the Conflicts of Methodism (1898), pp.143-4, 452 etc.
  • Methodist Recorder, Winter Number, 1899, pp.21-2
  • O.A. Beckerlegge, The United Methodist Free Churches (1957)
  • Oliver A. Beckerlegge, 'James Everett: 1784-1984', in WHS Proceedings, 44 pp.135-44
  • O.A. Beckerlegge, The Three Expelled (Peterborough, 1996)
  • WHS Proceedings, 44 pp.135-44
  • Oxford DNB