was an early nineteenth-century
Methodist circuit rider
in the United States
born on August 30th, 1778, in Tyrone
County, Ireland to Thomas
and Eleanor Burch.
He was their eldest son. Burch's parents
raised him in the Church of
. Burch converted to Methodism in 1801, after hearing
sermons by Gideon Ousley
afterwards, his mother and siblings converted to Methodism as well.
His father was already deceased. They formed a Methodist Society in
Tyrone County, which soon expanded to hundreds of members.
travelled to the United
States, arriving on June 5th, 1803.
there with his mother, sister and brother Robert. He settled in Lancaster
County, Pennsylvania, near Boehm's
Burch became active in the Methodist Church
there, receiving a local preacher
licence in 1804, and being received on trial as a circuit rider by
the annual Philadelphia Conference of 1805. After three years of
circuit riding, Burch was promoted to the office of deacon
Within the Church, Burch came to be well respected. When the first
delegated annual General Methodist conference was held in 1812,
Burch was sent to represent the Philadelphia Conference.
conference Burch was assigned to Quebec City.
He managed to arrive there before the
outbreak of the War of 1812
Nathan Bangs, who had been assigned to Montreal, was unable
to fulfill his role there, and Burch covered both circuits,
focusing on the more populated Montreal Circuit.
circuit riders assigned to the Canadas in 1812, only Burch and
Robert Hibbard managed to get across
the border, and Hibbard drowned in the Saint Lawrence
Burch remained in this position
for three years, as it was impossible to reassign circuit riders
across the border during the war. Burch neglected his duties on the
Quebec City Circuit in large part, travelling there only twice in
his first year. During 1812 and 1813, membership in the Methodist
Church in Quebec City dwindled from 40 individuals to 20.
After the war, Burch returned to the United States. He married Mary
Smith, of Philidelphia, on May 25th, 1816. Burch remained highly
respected among his peers; he was chosen to attend the delegated
conferences in 1820 and again in 1828. The couple had a son,
Robert A. Burch, born August 4th, 1832 in Albany, New
Other children of the couple were Mary
Eleanor, Sophia Gough, Thomas, Jane Sophia, and Anne Elisabeth.
Burch continued circuit riding in the United States until 1835,
when he was declared supernumerary
to illness. He returned to circuit riding in 1841, but retired
again in 1845, as his wife had died the previous year. He retired to Yonkers, New
York, where he remained until shortly before his death,
when he went to live with his son, Thomas H. Burch, in Brooklyn.
Burch died on August 22nd, 1849, of an
- Carroll, volume I, page 281
- Warriner (1885), 240
- Carroll, volume I, page 282
- Carroll, volume I, page 283
- Warriner (1885), 242
- Warriner (1885), 243
- Carroll, volume II, page 4
- Carroll, volume II, page 5