Henry Moore's Unpublished Manuscript
A Plain Account of the Conduct of Dr. Whitehead Respecting Mr. Wesley’s MSS., &c. in Reply to What the Doctor has Published on That Subject. Manuscript written by an unknown scribe, with the author’s corrections.
[London, c. 1797]. (BRMS 131)
When John Wesley died in 1791, many disputes arose within the Methodist leadership. One of the most contentious involved the three men whom Wesley had named as his literary executors: Thomas Coke (1747–1814), Henry Moore (1751–1844), and John Whitehead (c. 1740–1804). At first it was agreed that Dr. Whitehead, Wesley’s physician, would write a biography of Wesley, with all profits dedicated to the charity fund for retired preachers. However, when Whitehead demanded unprecedented royalties and refused Coke and Moore access to Wesley’s papers, he was ousted from his Methodist circuit. The first volume of Whitehead’s Life of the Rev. John Wesley appeared in 1793; the second in 1796. In the mean time, Coke and Moore had rushed to complete their one-volume “official” biography of Wesley in 1792.
The exhibited manuscript is a transcription of Henry Moore’s argumentative account of the “biography controversy,” written c. 1797 and bearing a few of his autograph corrections. This controversial text remained unpublished until 1991, when Dr. Richard P. Heitzenrater edited the manuscript for publication in the catalogue of Bridwell Library’s exhibition “Faithful unto Death”: Last Years and Legacy of John Wesley.