An Anglican priest has unlocked the 270-year-old secrets of Charles Wesley’s coded diary, throwing light on the turbulent relationship that he had with his brother John in the early years of the Methodist movement they founded … The Rev. Professor Kenneth Newport, Pro-Vice-Chancellor at Liverpool Hope University, was the first to crack the cipher and spent nine years transcribing the 1,000-page hand-written manuscript held at John Rylands Library in Manchester … Wesley’s shorthand, which omits vowels and abbreviates consonants, is a highly personalised adaptation of that invented by John Byrom, the 18th century poet, diarist and stenographer. Byrom, whose method was taught at Oxford University, published his New Universal Shorthand in 1740. Wesley’s is severely abbreviated, sometimes using a string of consonants without breaks. Whole sentences are elided and the spellings are often phonetic. The language generally is that of an 18th century gentleman and preacher.

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