Joseph Benson was born on 26 January 1749 in Kirkoswald, Cumberland and died on 16 February 1821. He was educated locally. Under the influence of a cousin he became a Methodist. After a period running a village school he went to London and there met John Wesley who appointed him classical master of Kingswood school. Benson entered St Edmund Hall, Oxford in 1769 but left in the following year to take charge of the Countess of Huntingdon's College at Trevecca. He was Arminian: the Countess was a Calvinist, so he left. He attempted to enter the established Church but failed on account of his association with the Methodists. Instead he joined them and became an itinerant preacher. Later he became one of the leading figures in eighteenth-century Methodism and was President of the Wesleyan Conference from 1798 to 1810. He was apparently a preacher of great power, inducing repentance in the smugglers of Newcastle.
From The Continuum Encyclopedia of British Philosophy in Oxford Reference.