Wesley Family, 1700-1996

18 boxes, approx. 1800 items
Scope and content:

Documents three generations of the family, but especially the lives of John and Charles Wesley. The series is divided into subseries by family member. The three largest manuscripts subseries are those for John Wesley (1703-1791), Charles Wesley (1707-1788), and Sarah Wesley (1759-1826), the daughter of Charles. The John Wesley Papers are mainly original autograph letters (outgoing and incoming) spanning some fifty-five years of his life. There is also one forgery, several 18th or 19th century handwritten copies, and one engraved facsimile. John's letters contain no one frequent correspondent; the Charles Wesley Papers are dominated by Charles' letters to Samuel Lloyd, a friend and sometime legal and financial advisor in London. These draw a portrait of almost twenty years of their friendship. There are also letters to his wife and children, and to important church figures such as John Fletcher and Joseph Benson.

The Sarah Wesley Letters and Poems, though little known, constitute one of the highlights of the Wesley Family Papers--Frank Baker thought it the largest collection in the world of her manuscript poems. There are also over forty complete letters and fragments, spanning forty years of her life and including the only marriage proposal she is known to have received.

The manuscript portion of the series is rounded out by several small groups of letters from other family members related directly to Charles: his wife, Sarah, and her sisters, his two sons, Charles and Samuel; and two grandsons. The series ends with the large Wesley Family Portraits Subseries, some 1000 engraved prints of family members, scenes from their lives, and places associated with them. Almost half of these images are of John Wesley, one of the most frequently-painted portrait subjects of 18th century England.

Letters and writings of the Wesley family are arranged in subseries by family member, in chronological order by date of birth: Samuel Wesley, Sr. (1662-1735); John Wesley (1703-1791); Charles Wesley (1707-1788); Sarah [Gwynne] Wesley (1726-1822); Charles Wesley, Junior (1757-1834); Sarah (Sally) Wesley (1759-1828); and Samuel Wesley (1766-1837).


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Access note. Collection contains some originals in the collection that are restricted except for use under direct staff supervision. Patrons must use photocopies of originals. Contact Research Services for access.

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