William Thompson (Methodist)

William Thompson (17331799) was the first President of the Methodist Conference after John Wesley's death, being elected President at the Manchester conference in 1791.[1]

William Thompson
President of the Methodist Conference
In office
Preceded byJohn Wesley
Succeeded byAlexander Mather
Personal details
Newtownbutler, Ireland
DiedMay 1, 1799
Known forFirst President of the Methodist Conference after Wesley


Thompson was born in 1733 at Newtownbutler in County Fermanagh, Ireland.[2] He entered the Wesleyan itinerancy in 1757.[2]

During his early ministry he endured persecution including imprisonment and the impressment of several of his hearers into the Royal Navy. They were subsequently released through the intervention of the Lady Huntingdon.[1]

After his term as President of the Methodist Conference, Thompson was involved with the sacramental controversy of the early 1790s. His pen drafted the Plan of Pacification of 1795,[1] which arose out of disputes between the Methodist societies and the Church of England over the status of travelling preachers and the administration of the sacraments, fomenting their separation.[3]

He was serving as Chairman of the Birmingham District when he died on May 1, 1799.[2]


  1. Kelly, C. H. (1891), Wesley and his successors: a centenary memorial of the death of John Wesley, London, pp 23-24
  2. The Methodist Archives Biographical Index William Thompson (1733-99) University of Manchester Library
  3. Methodist Church of Great Britain, Separation from the Church of England, accessed 1 December 2019
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