George Shadford (1739 – 1816) was a native of Lincolnshire, England. He served two years in the British army. His conversion occurred in 1762. For the next two years, he preached on the Epworth Circuit. This was John Wesley’s home circuit. Eventually, George became a regular itinerant for John and Charles Wesley.
In 1773 George left his homeland for the American Colonies. He joined the colonial-British itinerant and retired British-Army Captain, Thomas Webb when Webb ventured back to England to find worthy preachers for the American Colonies. Before his departure for the colonies, John Wesley gave George one famous admonition: “I let you loose, George, upon the great continent of America. Publish your message in the open face of the sun.” George Shadford did just that.
George Shadford Virginia Revival
George was the chief instrument of the great revival which broke out in Virginia. This occurred in the Brunswick Circuit. In 1775, fourteen counties in Virginia came under the influence of this cleansing movement. The Holy-Spirit revival also crossed the Roanoke River into North Carolina. By the year, 1777, one year before his departure from America, his efforts added one thousand, nine hundred and ninety-three members.
George Shadford & Francis Asbury
Six years older than Francis Asbury, Shadford mentored the younger preacher. The 1958 edition of Asbury’s journal notes section refers to this friendship as the following: “Shadford probably stood first in Asbury’s affection…” A November 5, 1775 journal entry by Francis Asbury refers to his friendship with George in the following manner: “Rode about ten miles to Samuel Yergan’s chapel, and met brother George Shadford. My spirit was much united to him, and our meeting was like that of Jonathan and David.”
Unfortunately for Francis Asbury George was a loyalist. In addition, George could not sign the preaching oaths required in a few southern colonies. Asbury did not sign as well and suffered imprisonment and harassment for this refusal. As a result of his Loyalist views, George Shadford eventually returned to England with Thomas Rankin in 1778.