RANKIN, THOMAS: Methodist, friend of John Wesley; b. at Dunbar (27 m. e.n.e. of Edinburgh), Scotland, in 1738; d. in London May 17, 1810. He came of pious parentage, and was early inclined to enter the ministry; but when seventeen and after the death of his father, he was led into evil courses, from which he was startled by the devotions of some pious soldiers; later he came under the influence of Whitefield, and again thought of entering the ministry, but instead circumstances compelled him to sail for America to engage in commercial pursuits; in 1759 he was again in his own country, accompanied a Methodist itinerant minister while visiting societies in the north of England, and then preached his first sermons. In 1761 he had interviews with John Wesley, and became officially connected with the Wesleyan movement, often accompanying the leader on his journeys; in 1773 he was sent by Wesley to America, where he called the first Methodist conference held in America, and there, in the settlement of problems, Rankin took precedence of Francis Asbury (q.v.), holding the position of "general assistant." In 1778 he was again in England and remained at work till 1783, when at his request he was made a supernumerary. His mark on Methodism is less pronounced than that of others of his time, not because he was less pious or able, but rather because of inflexibility of temperament and deficiencies of education.