Robert (Bob) Kirkham was the son of the Rector of Stanton Harcourt in Oxfordshsire.
He had first met John Wesley at home when the young clergyman became acquainted with the family through a mutual friend. Wesley spent some of the Christmas period staying with the family in 1726.
Kirkham went up to Merton in 1729. In the late winter of 1729/1720 he began to meet with the Wesleys and William Morgan regularly. Kirkham was the first to face ridicule following the expansion of the group’s activities to include visiting prisoners and helping to pay for local children’s education.
It was his Merton College colleagues who first dubbed the fledgling group ‘The Holy Club’.