Murlin, John (DNB00)


MURLIN, JOHN (1722–1799), methodist preacher, was born at St. Stephen in Brannell, Cornwall, in the early part of August 1722, being the second son of Richard and Elizabeth Murlin or Morlen. His father, who died in 1735, was a farmer in that parish, and until his death he was assisted by his son. At Michaelmas 1735 the boy was bound apprentice as a carpenter for seven years, and for several years after the expiration of his articles he served another master in the same trade. In February 1749 he was converted to method ism, soon became a local preacher, and on the invitation of John Wesley travelled in west Cornwall as an itinerant preacher from 12 Oct. 1754 to August 1755. After that date he visited many parts of England and Ireland, his stay in any town being usually limited to a few weeks. He was stationed in London in 1755, 1766, 1768, 1770, 1776, 1779, and 1782; he was at Bristol during several years, and in 1784 he was resident at Manchester. In 1787, when no longer able to keep a circuit, he retired to High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, but he preached in Great Queen Street Chapel, London, in the winter of 1798-9. He died at High Wycombe, 7 July 1799, and was buried in the same vault with John Wesley in the City Road Chapel, London, when his executors erected a plain white marble tablet to his memory. On 11 Feb. 1762 he married in London Elizabeth, second daughter of John Walker, a tradesman, and the widow of John Berrisford, a cashier in the Bank of England. She was born in May 1710 and died at Bristol 18 Jan. 1786, being buried at Temple. Her funeral sermon was preached by Jeremiah Brettell on 24 Jan., and a memoir by her husband, appeared in the 'Arminian Magazine,' ix. 422-8.

Murlin was a methodist of the primitive stamp of character, but of great independence. In 1760 he and two other preachers at Norwich began, 'without Wesley's permission and without consulting any of their coadjutors,' to administer the sacrament. Through his marriage he came into considerable property, and in 1770 Wesley wrote with much bitterness of tone that many of his preachers would go where they liked. 'Mr. Murlin says he must be in London. 'Tis certain he has a mind to be there; therefore so it must be, for you know a man of fortune is master of his own motions.' When 'an angel blowing a trumpet was placed on the sounding-board over the pulpit' at Halifax in 1779, Murlin refused to preach under it, and when a majority of one voted for its removal he 'hewed it in pieces.' In the pulpit he was always in tears and was known, like James Nalton [q. v.], as the 'weeping prophet.'

Murlin wrote:

  1. 'A Letter to Richard Hill on that gentleman's five Letters to the Rev. J. Fletcher. By J. M.,' Bristol, 1775.
  2. 'Sacred Hymns on various subjects,' Leeds, 1781; 2nd edit. Bristol, 1782.
  3. 'Elegy on Mrs. Fletcher and other Poems,' 3rd edit., High Wycombe, 1788.
  4. 'Letter to Rev. Joseph Benson on the Administration of the Sacraments in Methodist Chapels by Unordained Ministers.' This he printed and circulated among the preachers towards the close of 1794. 'A Short Account of Mr. John Murlin, written by himself,' an expansion of a memoir in the 'Arminian Magazine,' ii. 530-6, was printed in 1780 (cf. Thomas Jackson, Early Methodist Preachers, ii. 415-28). His portrait at the age of seventy-five was engraved by Ridley, and inserted in the 'Methodist Magazine,' April 1798.

[Osborn's Wesleyan Bibliography, pp. 145–6; Blanshard's Samuel Bradburn, 2nd edit. p. 109; Almore's Methodist Memorial, 1871 ed., pp. 156–8; Tyerman's John Wesley, ii. 381–3, iii. 70, 292; G. Smith's Wesleyan Methodism, 2nd ed., ii. 117, 311; Stevenson's City Road Chapel, pp. 246, 352, 369–76.]

W. P. C.