Bramweil, William one of the most successful preachers of English Methodism, was born at Elswich, Lancashire, in 1759. His early education was limited to the advantages afforded by the village school of Elswich. His parents trained him to religious habits, and his exemplary life, while apprenticed to a currier at Preston, secured him general respect, but the demands of his conscience were not satisfied. After long sufferings and struggles he joined the Methodists, much against the wish of his parents, and soon after, during a sermon of Wesley, became assured of his acceptance with God.
He at once began to display a great activity in religious labors; he conducted prayer-meetings at five o'clock in the morning for the accommodation of working-people; he became a class-leader, and by his instrumentality such a religious interest was excited in Preston that the Methodist Society was quickly doubled. He entered upon the itinerant ministry in 1785, and in the following year was recognised by the Conference. For thirty years he then labored as a Methodist preacher, and was a "revivalist" in the best sense of the word. It is said that few men, perhaps no man of his day, gathered more converts into the communion of Methodism. In 1791 he was the instrument of a widespread revival in Dewsbury circuit, which followed him, 1792, to Bristol circuit, where about 500 souls were added to the societies. He labored with similar success on the other circuits to which he was successively appointed, reporting at almost every conference additions to the societies of not merely scores, but hundreds. He died suddenly, while attending the Conference at Leeds Aug. 13, 1818. " The records of Methodism are crowded with examples of saintly living, but from among them all no instance of profounder piety can be cited than that of William Bramwell. His energy was tireless, his understanding masculine, his decision of character unswerving, his voice singularly musical, his command over the passions of his hearers absolute. He was ascetic; an early riser for study and prayer: reading some, studying more, and praying most. He acquired a knowledge of the Greek and the French, and translated from the latter a good work on preaching. He was scrupulous to a fault, and charitable to excess, giving even the clothes from his person to the poor. The quickness and clearness of his discriminations of character were marvellous, and led both himself and his friends to suppose that he possessed the power of 'discerning spirits' "(Stevens, Hist. of Method. ii, 310). A Memoir of the Life and Ministry of Win. Bramwell, written by Rev. James Sigston (1st edit. 1820), has had an immense circulation both in England and America, and is still a popular work of Methodist literature. See Stevens, Hist. of Meth. ii, 308 sq.; 3:113, 178, 216 sq., 266 sq.