Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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RANKIN, Thomas, clergyman, born in Dunbar, Scotland, about 1738 ; died in London, England, 17 May, 1810. He joined the Methodist Episcopal conference, began to preach in 1761, and was appointed to the Sussex, Sheffield, Devonshire, and other circuits by John Wesley, with whom he also travelled on a preaching tour in that year. He was the first in authority under Wesley, was appointed superintendent, and came to this country as a missionary, arriving in Philadelphia, with George Shadford, on 3 June, 1773. Soon after his arrival he called a conference, which met in Philadelphia in July, 1773, and was the first of that denomination ever held in this country. After preaching in New Jersey and elsewhere, he was stationed in New York, and while officiating at a quarterly meeting in 1776 he was told that he would be seized by a body of militia. He continued preaching, but, although many soldiers were in the congregation, he was not molested. In September. 1777, he fled from his post and entered the British lines. On reaching Philadelphia, which was in their possession, he declared from the pulpit his belief "that God would not revive his work in America until they submitted to their rightful sovereign, George III." He endeavored to get the British preachers back to England. "It appeared to me," said Asbury, "that his object was to sweep the continent of every preacher that Mr. Wesley sent to it, and of every respectable travelling preacher from Europe who had graduated among us. whether English or Irish." After his return to England in 1778 he was supernumerary for London until a few mouths before his death.
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