Francis Asbury, the first bishop of the Methodist Episcopal church ordained in America, born at Handsworth, Staffordshire, England, Aug. 20,1745, died at Spottsylvania, Va,, March 31,1816. At the age of 14 he was apprenticed to a mechanic but through the influence of the Methodist preachers who visited his father's house, he was led at the age of 16 to commence his labors as a local preacher. In 1767 he joined the itinerant ministry, and after three years of home service was sent in 1771 as missionary to America, and the next year was appointed by John "Wesley general assistant in America. He reinvigorated the itinerant sys-' tern, and sent missionaries into wide ranges of country to preach and found new societies. On the outbreak of the revolutionary war, many of the clergy of the church of England and some of the Methodist preachers returned to England. Among the latter, in 1778, went T. Rankin, who had succeeded Asbury as general assistant. Asbury resolved to remain in America. In common with many others, he was from conscientious scruples a non-juror. From this cause, and from the effect of Mr. Wesley's "Calm Address, etc," Asbury and his Methodist coadjutors were regarded with suspicion by the struggling colonists, and often molested in their work; his prudence however at length allayed prejudice.

On the return of peace it was deemed expedient to establish an independent Methodist Episcopal church for America. Accordingly, on Sept. 2, 1784, Thomas Coke was duly ordained by Mr. Wesley and two other English presbyters superintendent of the Methodist societies in America, with instructions to ordain Asbury as joint superintendent. On Dec. 27, 1784, after unanimous election by the American preachers, he was inducted into office. For more than 30 years his personal history is the history of the progress and development of Methodism in America. In middle life he was of robust frame, of medium stature, with a fresh and healthful countenance, and a keen, penetrating eye that told of his wonderful insight into character. Though not privileged with the culture of the university, he had acquired a moderate knowledge of the Greek and Hebrew languages. In connection with Coke, he devised a plan for a complete system of academic and collegiate education, and as early as 1785 laid the foundations for the first Methodist college in America. As an organizer and administrator Asbury was only inferior to Wesley, by whom he had been instructed, and much of whose spirit he had imbibed.

During his American ministry he travelled over 270,000 miles through the entire extent of the country; he preached about 16,-500 sermons, or nearly one each day for 45 years; he presided at 224 annual conferences, and ordained more than 4,000 preachers. The organization, discipline, and marvellous progress of Methodism were largely due to the sagacity, administrative ability, and untiring activity of Asbury. Through the itinerant system, of which he was the reinvigorator and life-long illustrator, the spiritual destitution of our pioneer population was relieved. He was never married. His only literary works are his "Journals" (3 vols. 8vo), an invaluable record of his remarkable life.