The Oxford Centre for Methodism and Church History (OCMCH)

Promoting historic links between Oxford Brookes University and the Methodist Church through archives, artworks, publications and research.

Research – John Rylands Library: Rapture and Reason: Accounts of Evangelical Conversion in Georgian Britain


The John Rylands Library has recently announced the publication of digitised versions of documents from their collections pertaining the Evangelical Revival of the eighteenth century. These include letters of the Wesleys, George Whitefield , and many others.

The University of Manchester Library has digitised a collection of 156 manuscript conversion narratives written during the 18th century Evangelical Revival. These testimonies provide a vivid insight into a dynamic and often disturbing spirituality that fuelled an explosion in popular religion to create one of the building blocks of the modern world. This previously unpublished collection, part of the official archive of the Methodist Church of Great Britain, is now made available to scholars as well as members of faith communities interested in the roots of some of the world’s leading denominations.

Approximately one third of the collection has been transcribed and these copies can be accessed on the library website with the digital images of the original documents.

The testimonies document the grassroots response to revival meetings held across the British Isles during the middle decades of the 18th century. At these unruly and often violent gatherings, crowds sometimes numbering in tens of thousands were told of the transforming power of God and offered the choice between heaven and hell. Delivered by charismatic preachers of the calibre of George Whitefield and the Wesley brothers, this message had a shocking impact. The testimonies report cases of physical and emotional collapse with long term effects on the mental and emotional state of converts.

For more information and access to these resources, visit


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This entry was posted on September 13, 2016 by and tagged .

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