Bedford, John (DNB00)

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BEDFORD, JOHN (1810–1879), Wesleyan, son of John and Elizabeth Bedford, was a native of Yorkshire, having been born in Wakefield, 27 July 1810. His father died when he was about five years old. John was educated in Wakefield. He studied during several years in a solicitor's office, but, resolving to become a minister of the Wesleyan methodists, he was appointed by the conference in 1 831 to Glasgow. There he laboured hard to free the chapels from the heavy debts with which they were encumbered, and by which their growth and development were effectually hindered. In an essay on 'The Constitution and Discipline of British Methodism' he showed his mastery of the principles of church government. Althougn Bedford's ministry was afterwards mainly exercised in Manchester and adjacent towns, he also laboured with conspicuous success for a period of three years in each of the towns, Birminghan, West Bromwich, and Derby.

In 1860 Bedford was appointed by the conference secretary to the general chapel committee, and thenceforward lived in Manchester. His orderly habits were of immense service in administering the chapel affairs of the connection. He would tolerate nothing loose or irregular, and spared no pains to place the trust property of the methodist church on a secure basis. At the same time he kept abreast of the thought and theology of the day. His sermons were logical and impressive, and he especially excelled as a debater.

At the conference of 1858 he was elected into the legal hundred to take the place vacated by the death of Dr. Bunting. From that time to the end of his life Bedford was one of the foremost men in his own denomination, and his breadth of sympathy enabled him to exert a powerful influence upon the religious world in general. After being one of the secretaries of the conference for several years, he was in 1867 unanimously elected to the presidency of that assembly. A partial failure of health in 1872 led him to retire from the more onerous duties of his secretaryship, but he continued to give valuable counsel on chapel affairs and in other departments till his death. He died at Chorlton-cum-Hardy, near Manchester, 20 Nov. 1879, aged 69.

He published some occasional sermons and speeches, and also a controversial correspondence with the Rev. William Sutcliffe on the doctrine and system of the Wesleyan methodists, which he very ably defended.

He married Miss Maria Gledhill of Brighouse, in 1835, who, with two sons, survived him.

[Minutes of the Methodist Conference, espcciaily for the year 1880; Dr. Osborne's Outlines of Wesleyan Bibiography.]

W. B. L.