Punshon, Williami Morley, Lld
Punshon, Williami Morley, LL.D.
an eminent Wesleyan Methodist minister, was born at Doncaster, Yorkshire, England, May 29, 1824. His home influences were decidedly Methodistic, and at the age of seventeen he gave himself to Christ. He at once conscientiously devoted himself to a rigid course of selfculture and energetic usefulness, which he continued until his death. In 1840 he removed to Sunderland, where he became an accredited local preacher. In 1843 he began his preparation for the ministry, under that devoted missionary, Benjamin Clough, at Woolwich. He was accepted as a probationer by the conference in 1844, and went to the theological school at Richmond, but did not complete his course, as he was sent to Maidstone Circuit to supply a vacancy. In 1845 he was appointed to the Whitehaven Circuit. In 1867 he was appointed by the conference as its representative to the Canadian Conference, and also elected to its presidency. He arrived in America in 1868, and met the General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church at Chicago the same year, to which he was the representative of the Wesleyan Church. He visited the General Conference of 1872, and his speech before that body at that time was probably by far the best he ever delivered in America. The Wesleyan Church honored him by making him president of the conference in 1874. In 1875 he was appointed one of the secretaries of the Foreign Missionary Society, which position he held until his death, in London, April 14, 1881. Dr. Punshon was undoubtedly the greatest orator which the Wesleyan body of England has produced in this century. He was by nature poetic, and his style was largely controlled by this tendency, highly ornate, with great beauty and variety of illustration. In early life his discourses were rhetorical rather than logical, but during the latter part of his career his efforts "combined, as far as would be possible, the Ciceronian and Demosthenic styles." These qualities, coupled with a wonderful voice and great personal magnetism, gave him a power over an audience which is seldom equalled. His character as a Christian was specially attractive. "A remarkable fact in the history of Mr. Punshon is that he displayed, in the important positions in which he was placed in later years, very great practical sagacity, and proved that a great semi-poetic orator may be a successful man of affairs." He published several volumes of sermons and addresses, also one of poems. See Minutes of the British Conference, 1881, page 36; (N.Y.) Christian Advocate, April 21, 1881; also his Biography (Lond. 1881).