Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Atherton, William (1775-1850)

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ATHERTON, WILLIAM (1775–1850), Wesleyan minister, was born at Lamberhead Green, near Wigan in Lancashire, in 1775. At the age of 21 he entered the Wesleyan ministry on the Grimsby circuit, and his fresh and original style of preaching gave him a place among the most famous preachers of England in the first half of this century. He worked under the direction of the Wesleyan Conference for more than fifty years, and was chosen in 1846 the president of that assembly.

After spending some years in London, Atherton became in 1849 superintendent of the Wakefield circuit and chairman of the Leeds district, a position which he held until his death on 26 Sept. 1850, in his 74th year.

Atherton published several works, among which were the following: a sermon on the 'Insecurity of Life,' in 1818; an abridged 'Life of Lady Maxwell,' in 1838; and an 'Address on the Character, Agencies, and Religious Effectiveness of Wesleyan Methodism,' in 1839.

[Minutes of the Methodist Conferences; Dr. Osborn's Outlines of Wesleyan Bibliography.]

W. B. L.