A HISTORY OF RELIGION IN 18TH CENTURY ENGLAND

By Tim Lambert

In the early 18th century England was noted for its lack of religious enthusiasm. It was an age of reason rather then dogmatism and the churches lacked vigor. However in the mid-18th century things began to change. In 1739 the great evangelist George Whitefield (1714-1770) began preaching. Also in 1739 John Wesley (1703-1791) began preaching. He eventually created a new religious movement called the Methodists.

John Wesley traveled all over the country, often preaching in open spaces. People jeered at his meetings and threw stones but Wesley persevered. John Wesley never intended to form a movement separate from the Church of England. However the Methodists did eventually break away.

At the end of the 18th century a group of Evangelical Christians called the Clapham Sect were formed. They campaigned for an end to slavery and cruel sports. They were later called the Clapham Sect because so many of them lived in Clapham.

Meanwhile in the late 18th century religious enthusiasm began to revive in England. A key figure in the revival was Selina, Countess of Huntingdon (1707-1791).

In the early 18th century there was a great religious revival in the North American colonies. (Later it was given the name 'The Great Awakening'). Leading figures in the revival were William Tennent 1673-1745, a Scottish-Presbyterian preacher, Jonathan Edwards 1703-1758, a Congregationalist and John Davenport 716-1757. The English preacher George Whitefield 1714-1770 also visited the colonies and won many converts.

Religion in 17th Century England

Daily life in 18th Century England

A timeline of the Bible

A brief biography of George Fox

A brief biography of John Wesley

Home