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Alexander Kilham

1762-1798. Founder of the Methodist New Connexion.* He was born in Epworth, Wesley's birthplace, son of a Methodist weaver. Converted while young, he entered the service of Robert Carr Brackenbury, the Methodist gentleman-preacher, and assisted him in pioneer preaching in the Channel Islands. He became an itinerant preacher in 1785 and was soon involved in controversies (arising first from the expectation and then the event of Wesley's death) about the relation of Methodism to the Church of England. His pamphlets, under his own name or pseudonyms, defended administration of the sacrament to Methodists by preachers who were not in Anglican orders, called for lay representation in circuit and connexional government, and opposed a project for Methodist bishops. An attack on conference abuses brought his expulsion in 1796, and the Methodist New Connexion was formed, embodying his principles. He died, still only 36, worn out by extreme toil. One of Kilham's stations was Aberdeen, and Scottish Presbyterian practice may have affected him. Certainly he represents the tradition always present in Methodism which stood closer to English Dissent than to Anglicanism. His widow Hannah (1774-1832) joined the Society of Friends and became a pioneer of African linguistics and education.