Samuel Dunn (minister)

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Samuel Dunn (1798–1882) was a British Free Church Methodist minister and religious journalist.


Dunn, an expelled Wesleyan Methodist minister, was born at Mevagissey in Cornwall, February 13, 1798. His father, James Dunn, the master of a small trading vessel, made the acquaintance of John Wesley in 1768, and became a class leader; with his crew he protected Adam Clarke from the fury of a mob in Guernsey in 1786, and he died at Mevagissey, 8 August 1842, aged 88.

The son Samuel received his education at Truro, under Edward Budd, who was afterwards the editor of The West Briton. In 1819 he was admitted a Wesleyan Methodist minister, and after passing the usual three years of probation, was received as a full minister, and volunteered for service in the Shetland Islands, where, in conjunction with John Raby, he was the first minister of his denomination, and suffered many hardships. While here he wrote an interesting series of articles descriptive of the Orkney and Shetland islands (Wesleyan Methodist Magazine, 1822–5).

Dunn was afterwards stationed at Newcastle, Rochdale, Manchester, Sheffield, Tadcaster, Edinburgh, Camborne, Dudley, Halifax, and Nottingham successively, and at all these places proved a most acceptable preacher.

Written work[edit]

His first work, entitled Subjects and Modes of Baptism, was printed at Pembroke in 1821; thenceforward, throughout a long life, his pen was never idle. Upwards of seventy books have his name on their title-pages, a full account of which is given in Boase and Courtney's Bibliotheca Cornubiensis, i. 124–7, iii. 1163. Dunn wrote against atheism, popery, Socinianism and unitarianism, and in defence of Methodism. His best-known works are A Dictionary of the Gospels, with maps, tables, and lessons, published in 1846, which went to a fourth edition in the same year, and Memoirs of seventy-five eminent Divines whose Discourses form the Morning Exercises at Cripplegate, St. Giles-in-the-Fields, and Southwark, which appeared in 1844. He was also a contributor to theological magazines and reviews.

Fly Sheets[edit]

Until 1847 Dunn continued in harmony with the Wesleyan Methodists, but that he was accused of having been involved with James Everett and the Rev. William Griffith, Jun. in the Fly Sheets. These pamphlets advocated reforms in the Wesleyan governing body. They also reflected on the proceedings of the conference and its committees in unmeasured terms, and complained of the personal ambition of Jabez Bunting and Robert Newton, two of the past presidents of the association. What part the three ministers had taken, if any, in the Fly Sheets has not been discovered.

In 1849 Dunn started publishing a monthly magazine called the Wesley Banner and Revival Record, which, following the example set by the Fly Sheets, criticised Methodism and suggested reforms. At the conference held at Manchester in 1849 the three ministers were asked to discontinue the Wesley Banner, and to give up attacking Methodism. They, however, refused to make any promises; and were expelled on 25 July. Meetings of sympathy with them were held, with one in Exeter Hall on 31 August 1849. These expulsions were damaging to the Wesleyan Methodist connexion: between 1850 and 1855 upwards of a hundred thousand members were lost, and it was not until 1855 that it began to recover from this disruption. In a short time twenty thousand copies were sold of a small pamphlet entitled Remarks on the Expulsion of the Messrs. Everett, Dunn, and Griffith by William Horton.

Later years[edit]

Dunn then led a quiet life; for some time he itinerated and preached in the pulpits of various denominations. From 1855 to 1864 he lived at Camborne in Cornwall, where he ministered to the Free Church Methodists. Having written numerous articles in many American publications he was in course of time conferred a D.D. degree by one of the United States universities, and after that event called himself minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church of America.

He died at 2 St. James's Road, St. Mary Usk, Hastings, 24 January 1882.