The Moravian Church in England, 1728-1760

The Moravian Church in England, 1728-1760

The Moravian Church in England, 1728-1760

The Moravian Church in England, 1728-1760


The effects of the great Evangelical Revival in eighteenth-century England were felt throughout the world, not least in America. It has long been accepted that the Revival owed much of its initial impetus to the Moravian Church, but previous accounts of the Moravians' role have been inadequate and overly dependent on Wesleyan sources. Colin Podmore uses original material, from German as well as British archives to dispel common misunderstandings about the Moravians, and to reveal that their influence was much greater than has previously been acknowledged. Dr Podmore discusses what motivated people to join the Church, analyses the Moravians' changing relationships with John Wesley and George Whitefield, and shows how Anglican bishops responded to the Moravians' successive ecumenical stategies. His analysis of the successful campaign to secure state recognition (granted in 1749) sheds light on the inner workings of the Hanoverian parliament. In conclusion, he examines how acclaim quickly turned to ridicule in a crisis of unpopularity which was to affect the Moravian Church for a generation.


This book, which is based on my 1994 Oxford D.Phil. thesis 'The Role of the Moravian Church in England: 1728-1760', aspires to be a work of history, rather than of theology or piety. As an Anglican (of Cornish Methodist upbringing), I am an outsider, albeit a sympathetic one, to the tradition it studies. Moreover, it was not in Britain but in Germany that I first became acquainted with the Moravian Church. Since the period covered by this book concludes at the lowest point of the Moravian Church's reputation in England, I am delighted that John Mason's forthcoming London thesis, covering the period 1760-1800, will describe how they regained public esteem through their pioneering missionary work.

My research would have been impossible without the award of a major state studentship by the British Academy and impoverished without the scholarship awarded by the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst for study in the University Library in Tübingen in 1987. I also received assistance from Keble College for the purchase of microfilm from Herrnhut.

Equally indispensable was the access afforded by His Highness the Prince of Ysenburg and Büdingen, His Grace the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, and the other owners and custodians of the archival collections mentioned in the Bibliography, and I am grateful to the staff of the archives and libraries concerned. In particular, I wish to thank the Unitätsdirektion in Herrnhut and the Provincial Board of the Moravian Church in London for facilitating my visits to their archives. I am especially indebted to the Revd Ingeborg Baldauf, the Unity Archivist, and her colleagues, and to Mrs Janet Halton, the British Provincial Librarian, for their kindness and immense assistance, and I also wish to acknowledge specifically the helpfulness of the staff of the Lower Reserve in the Bodleian Library.

Assistance from Professor Dr Hans Schneider, Dr Paul Peucker, the Revd Dr Geraint Tudur, the Revd Dr Charles Miller, Dr Stephen Taylor, and the Revd Dr Vivian Green is acknowledged in the footnotes; Dr Taylor also kindly read Chapter VIII before it was finalized. During my research I valued the company of people working on related subjects, including Dr Peucker, Dr Irina . . .

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