Charles Wesley was born on 18 December 1707 and passed away on 29 March 1788. He was an English leader of the Methodist movement, most well-known for writing about 6,500 songs of praises.
Wesley was born in Epworth, Lincolnshire, the male child of an Anglican cleric and verse writer Samuel Wesley and his wife Susanna. He was a younger brother of Methodist founder John Wesley and Anglican cleric Samuel Wesley the Younger, and he began to be the father of composer Samuel Wesley and grandfather of composer Samuel Sebastian Wesley.
Wesley was schooled in Oxford where his brothers had also studied, and he formed the "Holy Club" among his fellow students in the year 1729. John later joined this group, as did George Whitefield. Charles followed his father and brother in the church in the year 1735, and he made a journey with John to Georgia in America, coming back a year later. In the year 1749, he got married to Sarah Gwynne, daughter of a Welsh gentleman who had been converted to Methodism by Howell Harris. She followed the brothers on their evangelistic journeys during Britain until Charles ceased to travel in the year 1765.
Notwithstanding their closeness, Charles and John did not always accord on questions relating to their beliefs. Specifically, Charles was strongly disapproved of the idea of a breach with the Church of England into which they had been ordained.
Charles was the 18th child of Susanna Wesley and Samuel Wesley. Charles Wesley was born in Epworth, Lincolnshire, England, where his father was rector. He was schooled at Westminster School and Christ Church, Oxford, where he was ordained. In Oxford, Charles initiated a prayer group among his fellow students in the year 1727; his elder brother, John, joined in the year 1729, soon becoming its leader and molding it in line with his own opinions. They paid particular attention on studying the Bible and living a sacred life. Further, students ridiculed them, saying they were the "Holy Club", the "Sacramentarians" and "the Followers", being methodical and unusually comprehensive in their Bible study, beliefs and disciplined lifestyle. George Whitefield united with the group. After graduating with a master's degree in classical languages and literature, Charles followed his father and brother into Anglican orders in the year 1735.
On October 14, 1735, Charles and his brother John sailed on The Simmonds from Gravesend, Kent for Savannah in Georgia Colony in British America at the demand of the governor, James Oglethorpe. Charles was designated Secretary of Indian Affairs and while John stayed in Savannah, Charles went as chaplain to the garrison and colony at nearby Fort Frederica, St. Simon's Island, arriving there on Tuesday, March 9, 1736 as stated in his journal entry. Matters did not turn out well, and he was largely rejected by the settlers. In the year July 1736, Charles was commissioned in England as the bearer of dispatches to the trustees of the colony. On August 16, 1736, he sailed from Charleston, South Carolina, never to return to the Georgia colony.
Charles Wesley experienced a conversion on May 21, 1738—John Wesley had the same experience in Aldersgate Street just 3 days later. A City of London blue plaque at 13, Little Britain, near the church of St Botolph's-without-Alders, off St. Martin's Le Grand, marks the site of the former home of John Bray, thought to be the scene of Charles' evangelical conversion on May 21, 1738.
Monument in St Mary Le Bone Old Churchyard at the position of Wesley's original grave. Wesley felt renewed toughness to spread the Gospel to ordinary people and it was around then that he began to write the poetic songs of praises for which he would become known. It was not until the year 1739 that the brothers took to field preaching, under the influence of George Whitefield, whose open-air preaching was already gaining great numbers of Bristol colliers.
After stopping field preaching and frequent travel because of illness in 1765, Wesley settled and worked in the area around St Marylebone Parish Church. On his deathbed, he sent to the church's rector, John Harley, and told him, "Sir, whatever the world may say about me, I have remained alive, and I pass away, a member of the Church of England. I pray you to bury me in your graveyard." Upon his demise, his body was transferred to the church by 6 clergymen of the Church of England. A memorial stone to him stands in the gardens on Marylebone High Street, near to his place of burial. One of his sons, Samuel, began to be the organist at the church.
In the year April 1749, he got married to Sarah Gwynne (1726–1822), also known as Sally. She was the daughter of Marmaduke Gwynne, a rich Welsh magistrate who had been converted to Methodism by Howell Harris. They transferred into a house in Bristol in the year September 1749. Sarah followed the brothers on their evangelistic journeys throughout Britain, until at least the year 1753. After the year 1756, Charles made no more travels to far parts of the country, mainly just moving between Bristol and London.
In the year 1771, Charles got another house, in London, and transferred into it that year with his elder son. By the year 1778, the whole family had moved from Bristol to the London house, at 1 Chesterfield Street (now Wheatley Street), Marylebone, where they stayed until Charles' demise and on into the 19th century. The home in Bristol still stands and has been refurbished, however, the London house was destroyed in the mid-19th century.
Solely 3 of the couple's children remained alive infancy: Charles Wesley junior (1757–1834), Sarah Wesley (1759–1828), who like her mother was well-known as Sally, and Samuel Wesley (1766–1837). Their other children, John, Martha Maria, Susannah, Selina and John James are all buried in Bristol, having passed away between the year 1753 and 1768. Both Samuel and Charles junior were melodic child wizards and, like their father, began to be organists and composers. Charles junior spent most of his career as the personal organist of the Royal Family, and Samuel became one of the most accomplished musicians in the world and is often called "the English Mozart". Samuel Wesley's son, Samuel Sebastian Wesley, was one of the foremost British songwriters of the 19th century.