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Harris, Howell


Lay preacher and a key figure in the establishment of methodism in Wales; b. Trevacca, Wales, Jan. 23, 1714; d. Trevacca, July 21, 1777. He was the third son of Howell and Susanna Harris. Howell, intended for the ministry, received a good education. At the death of his father in 1730 he opened a school. In 1735 he spent one term at Oxford University. Harris began to conduct worship in his mother's home and his evangelical fervor attracted large crowds. He soon was preaching as often as five times a day. As a result he was deprived of his school in 1737 because of its connection with the Anglican Church. On three occasions he was denied ordination so he had to continue his career as a lay preacher. Harris was encouraged in his work by George Whitefield and later in his life he preached in Whitefield's chapel in London. When Whitefield broke with John Wesley over the issue of predestination Harris sided with Whitefield's Calvinistic concepts. As a result Welsh Methodism was strongly tinged with this doctrine. In 1752 Harris founded a Protestant "monastery" that by 1755 contained some 120 disciples. He ministered to this group and to other families that settled in the area to be near him. Harris joined the militia in 1759 during the war with France because he feared a French invasion might bring about the establishment of Catholicism.

Bibliography: w. j. townsend et al., eds., A New History of Methodism, 2 v. (London 1909) v.1. t. rees, History of Protestant Nonconformity in Wales (2d ed. London 1883). r. j. jones, The Dictionary of National Biography from the Earliest Times to 1900, 63 v. (London 18851900) 9:67.

[a. m. schleich]

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