Queen of the Methodists: Selina, Countess of Huntingdon

David Mitchell describes the life of Selina, Countess of Huntingdon. In the history of the Methodist revolution an important part was played by this rich and enthusiastic lady, who devoted fifty years and much of her great fortune to the conversion of the upper classes.

David Mitchell | Published in History Today

The reputation of Selina, Countess of Huntingdon - the Queen of the Methodists, Horace Walpole called her - is today sadly dimmed; for both her achievements and her personality have been overshadowed by the massive fame of John and Charles Wesley; and Lady Huntingdon is often regarded as their grotesque appendage.

Yet on her contemporaries her impact was spectacular. “O inexpressible consolation”, she wrote soon after she had seen the light, “that God in His love is sending these calls to poor, vile, unworthy me!”

In fifty years of unremitting effort she spent well over £100,000 - a million or more in today’s values - on the promotion of Methodism, built up a “connexion” of seventy or more chapels, and, using her rights as a peeress to appoint as many chaplains as she chose, extended her protection to Whitefield, Romaine, Venn, Berridge, Fletcher, Hervey, Toplady and other leading clergymen, whose suspect enthusiasm had earned them the disapproval of their bishops. Donington Park, the Huntingdon mansion in Leicestershire, she turned into a fortress of the Puritan revival.

To continue reading this article you will need to purchase access to the online archive.

Buy Online Access  Buy Print & Archive Subscription

If you have already purchased access, or are a print & archive subscriber, please ensure you are logged in.

Please email digital@historytoday.com if you have any problems.