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John Wesley’s name

March 01, 2020

A lot of Methodists name their children after John Wesley. My own great, great grandfather was named “John Wesley Hanson” and he named his son, my great grandfather, “John Wesley Hanson, Jr.” Our son, Jeff, names his son, my youngest grandson, “John Wesley Hanson.”

There were four people in John Wesley’s family who shared that name. His great grandfather was named “John Westley” (notice the unusual spelling). His father and mother, Samuel and Susanna Wesley, had a son who was named “John Benjamin Wesley.” But this son died young, perhaps at birth. The Wesleys then had twin boys. They named one “John” and the other “Benjamin” But both of these boys died young, perhaps at childbirth. Samuel and Susanna had 19 (some say 20) children, but only 10 survived to adulthood, seven girls and three boys.

John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, was the sixteenth child. He and his younger brother, Charles, were not given middle names. All three of the Wesley sons became Church of England clergy: Samuel, John, and Charles!

What a family!

The Rev. Dave Hanson is a retired pastor and John Wesley scholar.

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