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Moses Wilkinson was a blind and crippled man who led the black Methodists in Birchtown. Wilkinson was known as 'Old Moses' and although he could not work, he got a weekly sum from an unknown benefactor.

'Old Moses' was a very fiery preacher, so much that some who watched him feared for his health. His style and fervor served him well and he established the largest congregation in Birchtown. His first convert was Peggy King, the wife of Boston King. Boston King himself soon became an influential preacher who got his start by helping out at Wilkinson's Wesleyan Methodist church.

Wilkinson's meeting house became a very important aspect of the community and was the center of most social activity. When John Clarkson came to tell the blacks of the opportunity to settle in Sierra Leone, he spoke from Moses Wilkinson's pulpit. Most of Wilkinson's congregation decided to travel to Sierra Leone and he went along with them. His departure with other leaders of the black community was not in the best interest of those who stayed; their influence was significantly weakened in the community.

Wilkinson continued to preach to his congregation after his arrival in Sierra Leone. The Methodists were the main voices opposed to the abuses and broken promises that soon filled Sierra Leone. There were a few splits in the congregation while Wilkinson still heading it up. He blamed them on interference from the school teacher and chaplain. His congregation was involved in a protest against the Sierra Leone officials against a new marriage law. The governor declared that only marriages performed by the government would be legal. The settlers thought this was an infringement on their rights but eventually stepped back from armed revolt over the issue. Moses Wilkinson was still alive in 1811, although he was no longer a preacher. The blind old man had outlived all the other leaders who had come with him to Sierra Leone.

1930's photo of shelburne Methodist Episcopalian Church - adapted by Jason Buchanan
Shelburne Methodist Episcopalian Church - the spiritual descendant of Moses Wilkinson's original congregation.

Story: Faith

The Wesleyan Methodists


Cato Perkins

Boston King

John Marrant


Boston King's Memoirs

John Marrant's Journal

Mission to America