Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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COKE, Thomas, clergyman, born in Brecon, South Wales, 9 September, 1747; died 2 May, 1814. He was educated at Oxford, and in 1772 became mayor of his native town. Subsequently he studied for the church, and obtained a curacy at Petherton. In 1776 he became acquainted with John Wesley, and, joining the Methodists, was appointed superintendent of the London district in 1780, and president of the Irish conference in 1782. After being ordained by Wesley as bishop of the church in the United States, he arrived in New York in 1784, and on 27 December of that year he ordained Asbury a bishop, and joint superintendent of the church in America. They proceeded together to visit the different conferences until June, 1785, when Coke returned to England and visited Wales, Scotland, and Ireland. The first mission he established was in the West Indies in 1786, which he again visited in 1788-'9, 1790, and 1792-'3. His ninth and last visit to the United States was in 1803. After the death of Wesley he was chosen secretary of the English conference, and, in conjunction with Mr. Moore and Dr. Whitehead, published, in 1792, a "Life of Wesley." In a voyage to New York, in 1797, the vessel he was in was taken by a privateer, and he was cruelly treated, being plundered of everything but his books. In 1803 he established a mission in Gibraltar, and from this time until 1808 was engaged in traveling in aid of the missionary cause. Through his influence a mission was established in 1811 at Sierra Leone. Determining, in 1813, to establish a mission at Ceylon, such was his zeal that, when the conference hesitated on account of the expense, he furnished the money from his own private purse. The missionaries embarked 30 December, and, after being out four months, he was found dead in his cabin. He rendered valuable assistance to Wesley in procuring what was called the deed of declaration, providing for the settlement of the Methodist chapels in the connection, and restricted the conference to 100 of the preachers, and their successors, forever, he was the author of a "Commentary of the Bible" (1807), " A History of the West Indies," "History of the Bible," " Six Letters in Defence of the Doctrine of 682 COLBORNE COLBURN Justification by Faith," " Four Discourses on the Duties of a Minister," and a "Preacher's Manual."
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