This chapter explains the focus of the book: how John Wesley’s Methodist movement financed its growth. This occurred within a predominantly agricultural economy in which most businesses were small and simple, transport and communications were difficult, and most financial transactions were informal and local. However this was an increasingly wealthy society characterized by expanding consumer markets and significant investment, including in public buildings and infrastructure. It reviews the historiography of Methodist finances, which fascinated contemporaries but have received relatively little attention since. They are important, not least in casting new light on the movement’s character and development, on its success in the religious marketplace, and on contemporary society. Finally, the chapter notes that there are plentiful primary sources, albeit incomplete and often difficult to interpret.
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