Tent Methodism: 1814 - 1832 'one soweth, and another reapeth'

Lander, John Kenneth (2000). Tent Methodism: 1814 - 1832 'one soweth, and another reapeth'. PhD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000f96f


After John Wesley’s death in 1791, schisms from Wesleyan Methodism occurred regularly. These events were not unexpected and the authorities often accepted them with little obvious regret, even if they did not actually encourage them. The first major split took place in 1797 when the Methodist New Connexion was formed, and during the following twenty years further significant schisms led to the establishment of the Primitive Methodists and the Bible Christians.

Other offshoots arose but lasted for much shorter periods. One of these was the Tent Methodists, a group that has been largely ignored by historians. Although some writers have made passing reference to the group’s presence in particular localities, the feet that Tent Methodism did not become a major national, or even a regional, body has meant that its significance has not been sufficiently recognised. The primary and secondary material documenting the group’s activities has had to be gleaned from many different places and sources. A full length biography of the second most important Tent Methodist was written shortly after his death, but no major work has charted and analysed the group’s overall impact. This thesis is an original contribution to research in the development of Methodism in the early 19th century.

The main case to be made in the thesis is that although the group existed, firstly within the Wesleyan fold and then as an independent Methodist sect, for only approximately eighteen years from 1814 to about 1832, the group’s impact in that period was greater than has, hitherto, been acknowledged. Some of the personalities involved went on to serve other denominations with great devotion for many years. From a careful study of the material, it is also possible to compare and contrast Tent Methodism’s experience with that of the main groups that emerged from Wesleyan Methodism during the first two decades of the nineteenth century.

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