Like his brother, he was born in Epworth, Lincolnshire, England, where their father was rector. He was educated at Christ Church College, Oxford, where his brother had also studied, and formed the "Oxford Methodist" group among his fellow students in 1729. John Wesley later joined this group, as did George Whitefield. Charles followed his father and brother into the church in 1735, and travelled with John to Georgia in America in the entourage of the governor, James Oglethorpe, returning a year later. In 1749, he married the much younger Sarah Gwynne, daughter of a Welsh gentleman who had been converted to Methodism by Howell Harris. She accompanied the brothers on their evangelical journeys throughout Britain, until Charles ceased to travel in 1765.
Despite their closeness, Charles and his brother did not always agree on questions relating to their beliefs. In particular, Charles was strongly opposed to the idea of a breach with the Church of England into which they had been ordained.
In the course of his career, Charles Wesley wrote the words of several thousand hymns, many of which are still popular. These include:
- "Amazing Love"
- "A Mighty Fortress is Our God"
- "Hark, The Herald Angels Sing"
- "Jesu, Lover of My Soul"
- "Love Divine, All Loves Excelling"
- "Rejoice, the Lord is King"
- "Soldiers of Christ, Arise"
- "Ye Servants of God"