Digital Collections

John Wesley Letters at Bridwell Library


Opening medical

John Wesley opening a
medical facility in Bristol.

Wesley triptych

Image of John Wesley
as part of a triptych.

Letter to Mary Wesley

Letter to Mary Wesley,
his wife, from John
Wesley. January 7, 1756.

Escape from fire

John Wesley escape
from the fire, lithograph.

Letter to Ann Avison

Letter to [Ann Avison]
from John Wesley.
April 20, 1767.

Letter to unknown

Letter to Unkown.
from John Wesley.
October 4, 1741.

About the Collection

Holding library: Bridwell Library

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wesley-hamilton-coleEvangelist and theologian John Wesley was born on June 28, 1703 in Epworth, England. He was the fifteenth child of Anglican rector Samuel (1662–1735) and Susanna Annesley Wesley (1669–1742). John Wesley studied at the Charterhouse School and at Christ Church College, Oxford (M. A., 1727). He was elected a Fellow of Lincoln College, Oxford, in 1726.

Wesley was ordained a Deacon in the Church of England in 1725. Three years later, in 1728, he was ordained to the priesthood. After assisting his father in the parish ministry from 1727 to 1729, John Wesley returned to Oxford where he joined the Holy Club, an organization founded by his brother, Charles. John Wesley soon became the leader of this student group committed to meeting frequently for Bible study, prayer, self-examination, and the performance of charitable acts. This systematic approach to fostering spiritual vitality earned the group the derisive nickname “Methodists.”

In 1735 John and Charles Wesley traveled to the British colony of Georgia as missionaries. Not long after his return to England in 1738 John Wesley had a life-changing conversion experience. From that moment on he became a prominent leader in the English evangelical revival.

John Wesley married Mary (Molly) Vizaille in 1751. They separated in 1771 and Molly Wesley died in 1781. John Wesley died in London on March 2, 1791, at the age of 88.

JacksonSince the 1950s Bridwell Library has collected letters of John Wesley by means of selective purchases and generous gifts, particularly a major donation by Bishop Frederick DeLand Leete (1866–1958). Bridwell Library currently holds more than 260 Wesley letters, and this collection presents large-format scans with complete, searchable transcriptions of 139 of these. Dating from 1741 to 1791, these missives were addressed to such recipients as Francis Asbury, John Newton, Adam Clarke, Joseph Benson, and various members of the Wesley family. In addition to the collection of letters of John Wesley, Bridwell Library holds a copy of Wesley's Instructions for Christians, published in Bristol by W. Pine in Wine-street in 1772. A pdf of the volume is available here. For more information about the John Wesley Letters at Bridwell Library, please contact Bridwell Library Special Collections.


Please cite Bridwell Library Special Collections, SMU, as the source of this collection. A high-resolution version of manuscripts from this collection, may be obtained by contacting Special Collections (