Thomas Coke

1747-1814. Methodist preacher, superintendent, and missionary enthusiast. Born at Brecon and educated at Oxford, Coke was made deacon in 1770 and served as curate at South Petherton, Somerset (1772-76). In 1775 he became doctor of civil law. Associated with Wesley from 1777, he was indefatigable as an itinerant preacher and increasingly served as Wesley's right-hand man. He was set apart by Wesley as superintendent for America (1784) and presided at the Christmas Conference which constituted the Methodist Episcopal Church of America. He maintained links with both sides of the Atlantic (which he crossed eighteen times). Relationships with Asbury, whom he had set apart as fellow superintendent in 1784, were not always easy.

In England, Coke presided over conference several times and served the connection assiduously. He had a strong link with Ireland, where he repeatedly presided over conference. He was a staunch opponent of slavery and a vigorous promoter of overseas mission. Tirelessly he raised funds, sent out missionaries, and opened up new areas. He organized the Negro Mission in the West Indies, developed missionary activity in Gibraltar, Sierra Leone, and Cape of Good Hope, and was recognized by conference as general superintendent of the missions (home as well as foreign). He died at sea, on his way to Ceylon with a party of missionaries.

See J. Vickers, Thomas Coke (1969).