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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Ingham, Benjamin

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was born at Ossett, Yorkshire, June 11, 1712. He received a liberal education, first at Batley school, and afterwards at Queen's College, Oxford, where, in 1733, he joined himself with Charles and John Wesley, the founders of Methodism. In 1735 he received episcopal ordination, and in the same year embarked with Mr. Wesley for Georgia. He remained in Georgia about two years, visited Carolina and Pennsylvania, and then returned to England, where, soon after his arrival, he accompanied Wesley to Herrnhut, the seat of the Moravians, and so strong became his sympathies with this excellent people that he could not sacrifice his attachment to them when the Methodists revolted from the disorders of the Fetter-lane society. He went into Yorkshire, and with incredible itinerant labors, assisted by Moravian companions, he founded there what may be called a Moravian form of Methodism. Preaching stations were established throughout the county and in neighboring shires. At Birstal he took Nelson publicly by the hand, and gave him liberty to speak in all his chapels. The Wesleys, Whitefield, Madan, and Romaine often preached for his societies, and they seem to have been generally recognized by the Methodistic leaders as a legitimate branch of the great revival, notwithstanding Wesley's people in Yorkshire experienced many vexations from the eccentricities of individual preachers, who retained some of the London Moravian follies.

Within a few years, the number of "Inghamite" societies reached eighty-four. In 1741, Mr. Ingham married Lady Margaret Hastings, sister to the earl of Huntingdon, (on which he removed his residence from Ossett to Abberford, where he continued to reside till his death. After forming this connection, he was so far from relaxing in his exertions to preach the Gospel that he greatly extended the sphere of his operations, and, in process of time, may be said to have evangelized all the surrounding country. Ingham was admitted to Wesley's Conference in Leeds, but the precise relation of his societies to the Wesleyan body was never defined. He had his own Conferences also, and at one of them was elected a general overseer, or bishop. Lady Huntingdon, who could not approve all the disciplinary features of his societies, attempted to promote a union of them with Wesley, and she sent Whitefield to Newcastle-upon- Tyne to meet the Wesleys for consultation on the subject. Charles assented, but John declined the overture, very wisely, as events demonstrated.

In 1759, Ingham read "Sandeman's Letters on Theron and Aspasio," and "Glas's Testimony of the King of Martyrs." These works produced such an impression on his mind that he deputed two of his preachers to Scotland to learn more fully the views of their authors. At Edinburgh they met Sandeman, and Glas at Dundee. They returned converts to the Sandemanian principles, and immediately spread discontent and disputes among the societies. Ingham's authority could not control the partisan violence which soon broke out. He called in the assistance of his friends. The countess of Huntingdon wrote them letters. Whitefield used his influence to save them. Romaine hastened into Yorkshire, but could not restrain them. Ingham attempted to excommunicate the disturbers, but it was an endless task. The whole order was wrecked and sunk. Thirteen societies only remained from more than eighty which had flourished with all the evidences of permanent prosperity. Ingham seems to have remained a Sandemanian (q.v.), and developed his views in a Treatise on the Faith and Hope of the Gospel (1762). He died in 1772. Some of his societies came to the Wesleyan Church; others united with the Daleites (q.v.), a class of Scotch Independents. See Stevens, History of Methodism, 1, 390 sq.; Tyerman, Oxford Methodists, p. 57-154.

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Ingham, Benjamin'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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