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Richard Watson

1781-1833. Wesleyan minister. Apprenticed to a Lincoln joiner, he received his first conference appointment as a Methodist preacher when only sixteen (his name does not appear in conference minutes until later). At nineteen his first publication appeared. His inquiring mind-and his argumentativeness-brought him under suspicion of heresy in his circuit, and he resigned in 1801, becoming later a preacher with the Methodist New Connexion* and secretary of their conference. In 1807 shattered health induced his resignation. He became editor of a Liverpool newspaper. In 1812 he reentered the Wesleyan ministry and became, with Jabez Bunting,* one of its outstanding figures. For twelve years he had secretarial responsibility for Wesleyan missions, of which, as of the abolition of slavery, he was a leading advocate. His impressive Christian Institutes (1823) were the first major work of Methodist systematic theology.