Cownley, Joseph an early English Methodist preacher, was born at Leominster, Herefordshire, June 26, 1723. Under Wesley's preaching, Cownley was converted at Bath, whither his business as travelling secretary to a magistrate sometimes called him. He was admitted to the itinerancy by Wesley, in Bristol, in 1746. He preached in Staffordshire, confronting the mobs, in Cornwall, Newcastle-upon-Tyne (1747), Ireland (at the peril of his life), and in various parts of England. In spite of a severe fever in 1755, he labored in Newcastle, Edinburgh, and Glasgow. He died at Newcastle, October 8, 1792. Unusually sensitive to discord, Cownley, from his sympathy with the popular movement, was involved in the great agitation of 1792, which resulted in the formation of the Methodist New Connection. He was a life-long friend of the Wesleys and Whitefield.Cownley was a thorough theologian, having read, it is said, nearly every theological work in the language. His mind was capable of abstruse investigation, and Wesley called him withal "one of the best preachers in England." He loved to carry the gospel to the retreats of wretchedness. See Minutes of the British Conference, 1793; Jackson, Early Meth. Preachers, 2:1-47 (by John Saulter, 1794); Stevens, Hist. of Mlethodism, 3:39, 91-93; Smith, Hist. of Methodism, 2:42-44; Atmore, Meth. Memorial, page 90 sq.; Crowther, Portraiture of Methodism (Lond. 1814, 2d ed.), pages 346-350.