Coke, Papers of Dr Thomas

Reference code(s): GB 1035 PLP 28
Held at: Methodist Archives and Research Centre
Domain: archival
Title: Coke, Papers of Dr Thomas
Date(s) of contents: 1775-1814
Level of description: Fonds
Extent and medium: 22 files


Name of creator(s):

Administrative/Biographical history: Thomas Coke was born in Brecon, the son of a medical practitioner. He was educated at Brecon Grammar School and Jesus College, Oxford, and was elected mayor of Brecon shortly after graduating in 1768. Coke took Holy Orders in August 1772 but was ejected from his curacy in Somerset for trying to run the parish on Methodist principles. He moved to London and placed himself under the direction of John Wesley, swiftly reaching a position of prominence.

Coke has been described as being "in some respects the most important of John Wesley's recruits to Methodism from the ranks of the Anglican clergy. He was certainly the most dedicated of Wesley's clerical supporters" (Vickers: Introduction to the Catalogue of the Papers of Dr Thomas Coke). His greatest achievement was in the field of foreign missions. In 1984 Wesley appointed him to oversee Methodism in the United States of America. He made a total of eighteen trans-atlantic trips, and is regarded as one of the founders of the Methodist Church in the United States and in West Indies.

From 1792 he began to recruit missionaries to send to missions in the West Indies, Sierra Leone, Nova Scotia, Ireland and France; much of which he fiancned from his own pocket. During the Napoleonic Wars he organised mission work amongst 70,000 French prisoners in England. To assist him in his superintendence of missions a Standing Committee of Finance and Advice was established in 1804 with which Coke maintained less than harmonious relations.

In December 1813 Coke set sail from England to establish a mission in India but died at sea on 3 May 1814.

Custodial history:

Immediate source of acquisition:


Scope and content/abstract: Coke maintained an extensive correspondence throughout his life on a wide range of subjects, and the collection consists largely of these letters and associated papers. Many of the letters are copies of originals held elsewhere.

System of arrangement: Arranged chronologically in 22 files.


Language: English

Conditions governing access: To be added.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Finding aids: Finding aids: published catalogue, Gareth Lloyd, `The Papers of Dr Thomas Coke: A Catalogue', with an introduction by Dr John A. Vickers, Bulletin of the John Rylands University Library of Manchester, vol. 76, no. 2 (1994), pp. 205-320.


Related material: The archive of the (Wesleyan) Methodist Missionary Society/Methodist Chruch Overseas Division is held in the Library of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.


Archivist's note: Description compiled from several sources, including the "Catalogue of Dr Thomas Coke Papers".

Date(s) of descriptions: July 2003

Mission history
Mission policy
Mission ships
Missionary societies
Ordained missionaries

Personal names
Coke | Thomas | 1747-1814 | missionary pioneer

Corporate names
Methodist Missionary Society
Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society

United States of America
West Indies