Joseph Benson, an English clergyman, born at Melmerby, Cumberland, Jan. 25, 1748, died Feb. 16, 1821. He was educated for the established church, but at the age of 16 was converted under the influence of the Methodists, and soon after joined their denomination. Such was his proficiency in the ancient languages that at the age of 18 Wesley appointed him classical master at Kingswood school. At the same time he was a student at St. Edmund's Hall, Oxford. In 1769 he was called to the head mastership of Lady Huntingdon's theological school at Trevecca, but was soon dismissed because he could not agree with the Calvinistic views of the founder. His application to enter orders in the established church having been rejected, he was admitted in 1771 into the Methodist conference, and for many years occupied the most important stations of the church. After the death of Wesley he was chosen president of the conference. While in this office his congregations sometimes numbered 20,000. For many years he was editor of the "Weslyan Magazine," the chief organ of the Methodist church in England, conducting it to the time of his death.
His chief writings are: "A Defence of the Methodists" (1793), "A Further Defence of the Methodists" (1794), "Vindication of the Methodists" (1800), "Apology for the Methodists" (1801), "Sermons on Various Occasions" (2 vols.), "Life of John Fletcher," and "A Commentary on the Holy Scriptures" (5 vols. 4to.). See Macdonald's "Life of Benson," and Trefry's "Memoirs of Rev. Joseph Benson."