J'OSIAH • HENRY- BARR
JOSIAH HENRY BARR
THE METHODIST BOOK CONCERN
NEW YORK CINCINNATI
^ \ \
Copyright, 1916, by
JOSIAH HENRY BARR
m 10 1916
TO MY WIFE, BERTHA MAXSON BARR, M.A.,
WHO HAS BEEN A CONSTANT INSPIRATION, AND WHO HAS
RENDERED ME MUCH ASSISTANCE IN PRODUCING THE WORK,
THIS BOOK IS DEDICATED.
The Cost of a New Cause 9
John Wesley 16
Charles Wesley 38
George Whitefield : 51
The Lay Preachers and the Persecutors 61
The Methodist People and the Mobs 87
Perils of the Lay Preachers in Ireland 107
Violence in Ireland 118
The Press Gangs 135
The Clergy and the Magistrates 158
The University and the Methodists 169
The Methodists Vilified 200
Persecution Checked 223
Summary — An Estimate 232
This work was undertaken for the purpose of ascertaining,
so far as possible, the actual extent of the suffering of the early
Methodists, and of their struggle against persecution. It deals
only with events in the British Isles and covers the life of the
Rev. John Wesley. There was persecution after his death, but
by that time the crisis had passed and Methodism had become so
thoroughly established that there was no longer any possibility
of crushing it. Therefore what followed, though extremely
trying, was more incidental.
At the beginning of the task the hope was entertained of
making this a source book of facts, but the abundance of material
soon made this plan impracticable. Were all the material to be
used which is at hand, it would make a volume of twice this size.
Therefore this does not purport to be a complete account. For
the sake of brevity some material has been omitted entirely, and
wherever possible, nearly all has been abridged. In some in-
stances narratives have been broken for this purpose. However,
it is believed that enough is given, both to show the extent of the
sufferings of the Methodists, and to portray the spirit of their
In the search for material nothing has been found anywhere
that would suggest an outline for the work, or that would direct
the student to the sources. It seems to be almost entirely an
unexplored field. It has been necessary, therefore, to handle
volume after volume wherever material seemed likely to be found.
Between two and three thousand volumes have thus been re-
viewed. Also such English periodicals as refer to the subject
and could be found have been consulted. Of the three collections
of pamphlets relating to the early Methodists, and found in this
country, all have been carefully examined.
Secondary sources have been used sparingly, as in almost
all instances the primary sources from which these writers took
the facts were readily found. The chief exception to this is
the scholarly work of L. Tyerman, whose writings to some extent
have been a guide to certain sources and have furnished some
The work was suggested by Professor James T. Shotwell,
of Columbia University, in connection with regular university
work. jMoreover, I am indebted to him for his sympathetic
interest and encouragement; for suggestions in regard to the
arrangement of the work, and for helpful criticism of the manu-
script. President Charles J. Little, of Garrett Biblical Institute,
gave me some helpful suggestions, both as to the nature of the
work and in the search for sources. Had he lived, doubtless
with his wide knowledge of Methodist Church history he would
have been a valued adviser, but his death occurred shortly after
the work was begun.
I am especially indebted to Professor John Alfred Faulkner,
of Drew Theological Seminary, whose great scholarship has
been a constant inspiration, and who has been a counselor
throughout the entire construction of the book. I had the privi-
lege of consulting him freely and frequently, and always found
him interested, sympathetic, and helpful.
I recall with pleasure the courtesies shown me while in
search for material. I found the librarian of Columbia Univer-
sity always glad to render any possible assistance. I am also
obliged to the libraries of Union Theological Seminary, the
General Theological Seminary, Wesleyan University, and espe-
cially Drew Theological Seminary. At all times at Drew I had
free access to its shelves, and to its rare and valuable collections.
Were it not for the books, pamphlets, and periodicals relating
to early Methodist history in this great library this book could
not have been written.
JosiAH Henry Barr.
THE COST OF A NEW CAUSE
At the University of Oxford in 1730 a group of young men
met together in order to help each the other in their reHgious
attainments. They studied the Scriptures, discussed rehgious
books, preached to the prisoners, and tried to conform their Hves
to Bible standards. These young men speedily became the objects
of ridicule in the college, and consequently were dubbed "enthusi-
asts," ''Methodists," ''the holy club," etc. They met only with
opposition, which continued till the group left the university, and
carried with them these opprobrious names into fields of greater
activity, where feeling became so intensified as shortly to cul-
minate in open violence.
In 1739 Wesley speaks of preaching "the plain old religion
of the Church of England, which is now almost 'everywhere
spoken against' under the name of Methodist." ^ "Not only all
manner of evil was spoken of us both in private and public, but
the beasts of the people were stirred up almost in all places to
knock these mad dogs on the head at once." ^ This seed of evil
very shortly produced a rich harvest of brutality. Those who
chose to join themselves with the hated Methodists were likely
to meet bitter opposition, if not violence, from their own people.
At Islington, Wesley found need of "encouraging Miss Crisp,
who was being persecuted by her relatives." ^ A young man by
the name of Joseph Periam was put into an insane asylum for
being "Methodistically mad." He was conscious of no bodily
illness, so refused their remedies, whereupon he was thrown
^John Wesley, Journal, September 16, 1739; October 15, 1739.
^Tyerman, Life and Times of John Wesley, vol. i, p. 236.
'John Wesley, Journal, March 11, 1739.
10 EARLY METHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
upon a bed, a key thrust into his mouth, and medicine forced
down him. His father visited him and suggested that he give
up rehgion. He refused, and the father left him in the asylum.
At Mr. Periam's request Whitefield called upon him, and, finding
him in perfect bodily health, he, together with Mr. Seward,
succeeded in securing his release, but upon condition that he
accompany Whitefield to Georgia.^ At Hertford Whitefield
found some who were violently opposed and persecuted by those
of their own household because of this **madness." ^ Charles
Wesley says that "wives and children are beaten and turned out
of doors and the persecutors are the complainers. . . . To-day
Mary Hanney was with us. While she continued a drunkard,
a swearer, and company-keeper it was very well; she and her
father agreed entirely. But from the time of her turning to
God he has used her most inhumanly. Yesterday he beat her,
and drove her out of doors, following her with imprecations
and threatenings to murder her, if she returned." ^ One Mrs.
G was put in Bedlam, an insane asylum, by her husband.
She escaped, but returned, and was chained down and treated
in the usual manner of the asylum. Her crime was "Meth-
odism." '^ Mr. John Bosworth wrote to Wesley saying that his
friends and nearest relatives had done their utmost to separate
him from God and his children, meaning the Methodists; but,
failing in this, they seemed resolved upon separating him from
themselves. His uncle saw that none could take care of his
business as well as Bosworth, but he could not bear a Methodist
in his house. ^ Near Newgate Charles Wesley met a mother who
was abused and persecuted by her own daughters, who did not
*George Whitefield, Journal, May 19, 1739.
"Ibid., June 20, 1739.
"Charles Wesley, Journal, September 28, 1739.
'John Wesley, Journal, August 23, 1740.
NoTK — George Whitefield's son was "born in a room which the master
of the house had prepared, on a previous occasion, as a prison for his wife"
for going to hear the great Methodist preacher. (George Whitefield, Journal,
February 9, 1744.)
''John Wesley, Journal, February 22, 1746.
THE COST OF A NEW CAUSE ii
refrain even from blows.^ John Wesley asks what kind of
creatures are those gentlemen and their wives, who would "use
the most scurrilous language, strike and drive out of their house
on a rainy night a young gentlewoman, a stranger far from home,
for 'joining with the Methodists.' " ^^
Persecution took the form of refusing employment to these
people. A gardener, who had been in the employ of a nobleman
for above fifty years, was discharged for "hearing the Method-
ists." -^^ At Charlton all the farmers entered into a joint agree-
ment "to turn all out of their service, and give no work to any
who went to hear a Methodist preacher." This plan, however,
fell to the ground by the conversion of some of the parties to the
agreement. ^^ At North-Moulton a gentleman threatened much,
and turned many out of their work and farms. ^^ At Hornby
the landlord turned all the Methodists out of their houses.^*
They then built some little houses of their own. Also keelmen
were cruelly treated by their master.^^
The overseers of the poor conceived another means of pre-
venting some of the people from hearing these preachers. The
ministers of Bramble, Segery, Lingley, and many others forbade
the churchwardens and overseers to let these who heard the
Methodist preacher have any allowance from the poor funds of
their parishes, notwithstanding some of them were very poor
and had large families to support.^^
The opposition also tried to use the courts as a means of
checking the spread of this "enthusiasm." In 1740 "several
men made a great disturbance, during the evening sermon here,"
[probably London] , "behaving rudely to the women, and striking
^Charles Wesley, Journal, February 27, 1748.
"John Wesley, Journal, December 19, 1768.
"^Tbid., March 31, 1753.
^^Ibid., September 9, 1754.
"^^Ibid., September 19, 1755.
"Ibid., July 7, 1757.
"Charles Wesley, Journal, November 15, 1744.
^^George Whitefield's Works, Letter to Bishop of Sarum, November
12 EARLY METHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
the men, who spake not to them." A constable standing by
pulled out his staff and commanded them to keep the peace.
Upon this one of them swore he would be avenged, and, going
immediately to a justice, made oath that the constable had picked
his pocket. The constable was, accordingly, bound over to the
next sessions. Here not only the same man, but two of his
companions swore to the charge. But there being eighteen or
twenty witnesses on the other side, the jury easily saw through
the whole proceeding, and without going out at all, or any
demur, brought in the prisoner ''Not guilty." ^"^ The Methodist
place of worship at the Foundry in London was presented as a
"seditious assembly." But the presentment was quashed. ^^ The
Gentleman's Magazine relates the following account of a present-
ment in Wales: ''Brecon, August 28th, 1744. We, the Grand
Jury, of the county of Brecon, etc., having received in charge
amongst other learned and laudable observations made by our
honorable judge of this circuit that we ought to present [as crim-
inal] every obstruction to our holy religion, as being the most
valuable part of our constitution, and it being too well known
that there are several, as we are advised, illegal field and other
meetings of persons styled Methodists, whose preachers pretend
to expound the Holy Scriptures by virtue of inspiration, by
which means they collect together great numbers of disorderly
persons, very much endangering the peace of our sovereign
Lord, the King, which proceedings, unless timely suppressed,
may endanger the peace of the kingdom in general, and, at all
adventures, the pretended preachers or teachers, at their irregular
meetings, by their enthusiastic doctrines, do very much confound
and disorder the minds of great numbers of his Majesty's good
subjects, which in time may prove of dangerous tendency, even
to the confusion of our established religion, and, consequently,
the overthrowing of our good government, both in church and
state; and that we may be as particular as we can in detecting
this villainous scheme, we present the houses following, viz. :
"John Wesley, Journal, Septcml)er 4, 1740.
"Ibid., May 31, 1740.
THE COST OF A NEW CAUSE 13
Pontiwal, in the parish of Broynllys, being the house of John
Watkins, and the house of Howell Harris, in Trevecka, in the
parish of Talgarth, both in this county, as places entertaining and
encouraging such dangerous assemblies; and humbly desire our
honorable judge, if the authority of this court is not sufficient to
suppress the said disorders, that he will be pleased to apply for
that end and purpose to some superior authority whereby our
religion and the peace of the nation in general, and this country
in particular, may be preserved upon our ancient and laudable
establishment." ^^ This, however, is the only presentment of this
nature that is known.
At Frome, during a relentless and shameful persecution in
1 75 1, Mrs. Seagram, a widow with two children, was fined
twenty pounds for permitting preaching in her house, which had
been licensed by dissenters. This woman supported herself and
her two infants by selling drugs. When she could not pay her
fine her household goods and stock of drugs, worth fifty or sixty
pounds, were seized and sold, which left her and her children
penniless in the world.^^
While the Methodists, particularly Howell Harris and his
associates, were very successful in South Wales, "they suffered
in North Wales cruel persecution and oppression. The poorest
sort of people, who showed a readiness to receive the Gospel, had
to pay fines to the amount of eighty pounds. Some were totally
ruined, being robbed of all their scanty means of subsistence;
and even the pillow under the head of the child in its cradle was
taken by their cruel persecutors." ^^
'Tn the year 1747 the brethren of South Wales exerted them-
selves to make collections to assist their poor brethren who had
been thus robbed in North Wales, and to defray the expenses of a
lawsuit which they had instituted in defense of the gospel." ^^
^^Gentleman's Magazine, September, 1744, p. 504.
^"Stephen Tuck, Wesleyan Methodism in Frome, pp. 2iff.
^^Association of Aberystwyth and Bala, History of Calvinistic Meth-
odism, p. 9.
14 EARLY ^lETHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
The writer adds in a footnote: ^'Inasmuch as descendants of
the ringleader of these persecutions are now not only kindly dis-
posed, but also liberal and helpful to the cause of the gospel, we
refrain from enlarging upon this subject." ^^
At Hatfield a justice levied a fine on a local preacher on
the pretense that he was holding a conventicle; so also did a
justice in Kent three or four years previously. These punishments
were not sustained, however, by the higher courts.^* Again, in
1786, an account is given of a "body of the people called Meth-
odist" being fined twenty-one pounds ''under the sanction of an
obsolete law respecting conventicles." The correspondent ex-
presses his belief that the "sufferers will find sure protection
and ample redress in the verdict of their peers." ^^
Shortly before Wesley's death other and "vigorous attempts
w^ere made in different parts of the kingdom to prosecute the
JNIethodists under the Conventicle Act. Several preachers were
fined twenty pounds for preaching in unlicensed places, and even
in the open air." ^^ Some laymen were fined five shillings for
attending the preaching.^"^ This attempt also gained but slight
success. However, it greatly distressed Wesley. He wrote a very
earnest appeal to several of the bishops, in one of which he said
that now he was an old man, nearer ninety than eighty years of
age, consequently had nothing to ask or to fear for himself from
any living man, but he earnestly pleaded that justice be done the
people called Methodists.^^ In stating the case to a friend, who
was a member of Parliament, probably Wilber force, Wesley
""'Association of Aberystwyth and Bala, History of Calvinistic Meth-
odism, p. 9.
■"'John Wesley, Journal, July 17, 1772.
"Monthly Chronicle, 1786, p. 569.
^"NoTE — The relative purchasing power of money makes this sum much
larger than it seems. For example, in order to prevent losing a preaching
house, in 1776 Wesley notes, "I bought an estate consisting of two houses, a
yard, a garden with three acres of good land" for sixteen pounds, ten shill-
ings, to be paid, part now, part Michaelmas, and the balance in May.
^Methodist Manual l)y J. Crowthcr, p. 12, Tyerman Collection of Pam-
phlets, vol. ccxlii.
^John Wesley, Works, Letter to Bishop of , June 26, 1790.
THE COST OF A NEW CAUSE 15
observes : "Last month a few people met together In Lincolnshire
to pray and to praise God in a friend's house; there was no
preaching at all. Two neighboring justices fined the man of the
house twenty pounds. I suppose he was not worth twenty
shillings. Upon this his household goods were distrained, and
sold to pay the fine. He applied to the Quarter-Sessions, but
all the justices averred, 'The Methodists could have no relief from
the Act of Toleration because they went to church: and that,
so long as they did so, the Conventicle Act should be executed
against them.' ^^ Last Sunday, when one of our preachers was
beginning to speak to a quiet congregation, a neighboring justice
sent a constable to seize him, though he was licensed ; and would
not release him till he had paid twenty pounds, telling him his
license was good for nothing because he was a churchman.^^
Now, sir, what can the Methodists do? They are liable to be
ruined by the Conventicle Act, and they have no relief from the
Act of Toleration! If this is not oppression, what is? Where,
then, is English liberty! ... If you will speak to Mr. Pitt on
that head you will oblige," ^^ etc. Like other attempts of this
kind by the justices to harass the Methodists, this also proved a
failure, for the oppressed were again sustained by the higher
courts, and the fines were remitted. ^^
^John Wesley, Journal, June 26, 1790, or Works, Letter to a Member of
Parliament, June 26, 1790.
Note — The Conventicle Act was passed in 1664, and renewed in 1670. It
was aimed at all kinds of dissenters. Practically all religious assemblies were
forbidden, except those of the Established Church.
The Act of Toleration was passed in 1689, and tolerated freedom of
worship by dissenters, except Catholics. Technically, a Protestant must
dissent in order to receive its benefits. For the text of these Acts see Gee
and Hardy, Documents Illustrative of English Church History, pp. 623
''^Methodist Manual by J. Crowther, p. 12, Tyerman Collection of
Pamphlets, vol. ccxlii.
The Rev. John Wesley embodied in himself the great
evangelical movement of the eighteenth century.^ At Oxford
he was the leader of the Methodists, and when the revival began
to spread throughout the nation his was the skillful hand that
organized and directed it. As a hymn writer he was second
to his brother Charles, and as a great preacher he stood next to
Whitefield, but he surpassed them all as a scholar, as a contro-
versialist, and as an organizer of men. He possessed so remark-
able a calmness of temper that during his long life there is
scarcely an intimation, either by opponent or friend, of ruffled
feelings. With it all he possessed an undaunted courage. He
feared no opposition, of whatever type or however fierce. He
early formed the practice of meeting the mobs face to face, and
of looking them straight in the eye. Hostile publications, if
decent, were answered by him so far as time would permit. By
this means more than once he conquered opposition, and turned
enemies into friends. Though he was as unbending as steel in
what he believed to be duty, yet all accounts agree in representing
him as gentle and kind. He had a mighty conviction, and with
it a most astonishing energy. These did not desert him during
his entire life. The conviction together with his energy com-
pelled him to his wonderful achievements, which caused Southey
to wonder at the man,^ and Lecky to pronounce him **one of the
most powerful and most active intellects in England."^
But withal he was naturally a conservative. At Oxford it
was Mr. Morgan that led the way to visiting the prisons and
'Green, History of the English People, vol. iv, p. 147.
'R. Southey, Life of John Wesley.
'Lecky, England in the Eighteenth Century, vol. ii, p. 607.
JOHN WESLEY 17
preaching to the inmates. Later, when excluded from the
churches, it was Whitefield that inaugurated field preaching. He
was hurrying home to silence a layman who had begun to preach
and his mother told him to be careful what he did Avith that
young man, for she said, "He is as much called of God to preach
as you are." ^ When once convinced, he adopted all these prac-
tices, and used them with tremendous effect. He, himself, became
the most energetic of field preachers; he visited prisons every-
where, and used all the effective lay preachers that were available.
Indeed, without these departures the movement could never have
developed into a great revival.
All his doctrines were those which he firmly believed were
taught by the Church of England.^ If he reinterpreted and
revivified some of them, he thought that he found even this in
the articles or homilies of the Established Church. He looked
everywhere for what seemed to him to be useful and practical,
and when once adopted by him it was transformed into a living,
energizing force. If he believed it, others were obliged to do so
because of his compelling personality. This is the type of man
whom persecution vainly attempted to check.
One of his first encounters was with the celebrated Beau
Nash, of Bath. This noted society leader and gambler expressed
his intention to put to confusion the Methodist preacher. Wesley
was in the midst of his sermon "when their champion appeared,
and, coming close to me, asked, 'B)' what authority I did these
things?' I replied by the authority of Jesus Christ conveyed
to me by the (now) Archbishop of Canterbury, when he laid
his hands upon me and said, 'Take thou authority to preach the
gospel.' He said: 'This is contrary to Act of Parliament. This
is a Conventicle.' I answered: 'Sir, the Conventicle mentioned
in that Act (as the preamble shows) are seditious meetings. But
this is not such. Here is no shadow of sedition. Therefore it is
not contrary to that Act.' He replied : T say it is. And, besides,
^Moore, Life of John Wesley, vol. i, p. 414.
"John Wesley, Works, Farther Appeal, part i, sec. 3ft and 24ff, etc.
i8 EARLY :\IETHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
your preaching frightens people out of their wits.' 'Sir, did
you ever hear me preach?' *No.' 'How, then, can you judge of
what you never heard?' 'Sir, by common report.' 'Common
report is enough. Give me leave to ask, sir, is not your name
Nash?' '!My name is Nash.' 'Sir, I dare not judge of you by
common report. I think it is not enough to judge by.' Here he
paused a while, and, having recovered himself, asked, 'I desire
to know what this people come here for?' On which one replied :
'Sir, leave him to me. Let an old woman answer him.' 'You,
Mr. Nash, take care of your body. We take care of our souls,
and for the food of our souls we come here.' He replied not a
word, but walked away."^
From this time on for fifty years while he was preaching
there were many and rude disturbances. These not infrequently
broke out into violence. Many times mobs were organized, which
he was compelled to face, and sometimes these attacked him
with the determination to take his life. That he escaped with so
few injuries seems indeed marvelous.
At Upton, in 1740, while he was preaching, the rabble rang
the bells and made all the noise they could.''' At Deptford "many
poor wretches were got together, utterly void both of common
sense and common decency. They cried aloud as if just come
from among the tombs." ^ Six days later, at the same place, he
says, "Before I began to preach many men of the baser sort,
having mixed themselves with the women, behaved so indecently
as occasioned much disturbance." ^ At Chelsea the congregation
could not see Wesley "nor one another at a few yards distance
by reason of the exceeding thick smoke, which was occasioned by
the wild fire and things of that kind continually thrown into the
room." ^^ However, he continued his discourse.
At London he was frequently disturbed. He says : "A
"John Wesley, Journal, June 5, 1739.
Ubid., May 13, 1740.
"Ibid., February 4, 1741.
'Ibid., February 10, 1741.
^°Ibid., January 26, 1742.
JOHN WESLEY 19
great number of men, having got into the middle of the place,
began to speak big, swelling words, so that my voice could hardly
be heard." ^^ "The many-headed beast began to roar again." ^^
"On Saturday while I was preaching a rude rout lifted up their
voice on high." ^^ In the above instances he turned upon his
disturbers and quieted them. Frequently he was thus successful.
He says, "We greatly rejoiced in the Lord at Long-Lane, even
in the midst of those that contradicted and blasphemed." ^*
Sometimes this opposition followed him to his lodgings, or
disturbed him there. As he went out from Spitalfields, he says,
"a pretty large mob attended me to the door of the house to
which I was going. But they did us no hurt, only gaped, and
stared and hallooed as loud as they could." ^^ When an old man,
stopping in a suburb of London, a gun was fired at his chamber
window at night, and at the same time a large stone was thrown
through it. He says it was done "probably in sport by some that
had been drinking. I presently went to sleep again." ^^
Novel means were tried to break up his congregations.
W^hile preaching at Charles Square, London, "a great shout
began. Many of the rabble had brought an ox, which they
were vehemently laboring to drive in among the people. But
their labor was in vain." ^"^ At Pensford "a great company of
the rabble, hired (as we afterward found) for the purpose, came
furiously upon us, bringing a bull, which they had been baiting,
and now strove to drive in among the people." But the animal
ran either to the one side or the other, while the Methodists
"quietly sang praise to God, and prayed for about an hour."
"The poor wretches, finding themselves disappointed, at length
seized upon the bull, now weak and tired, after having been too
long torn and beaten both by dogs and man, and by main
^^John Wesley, Journal, September 18, 1740.
^^Ibid., October 26, 1740.
"Ibid., January 4, 1742.
"Ibid., January 18, 1742.
^^Ibid., March 2, 1744.
'^Ibid., December 19, 1782.
"Ibid., July 12, 1741.
20 EARLY METHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
strength, partly dragged and partly thrust him in among the
people. When they had forced their wa}^ to the little table on
which I stood, they tried several times to throw it down by
thrusting the helpless beast against it, who of himself stirred no
more than a log of wood. I once or twice put aside his head
with my hand that the blood might not drop upon my clothes,
intending to go on as soon as the hurry should be a little over.
But the table falling down, some of our friends caught me in
their arms and carried me right away on their shoulders, while
the rabble wreaked their vengeance on the table, which they tore
bit from bit." ^^ At the Great Gardens "many of the beasts of
the people labored much to disturb those who were of a better
mind. They endeavored to drive in a herd of cows among them,
but the brutes were wiser than their masters. They then threw
whole showers of stones, one of which struck me just between
the eyes. But I felt no pain at all, and when I had wiped away
the blood w^ent on testifying with a loud voice." ^^
In 1765 Wesley rode to North-Taunton, a village which
several of his preachers had previously visited. When he began
to preach "a clergyman came with two or three, by the courtesy
of England called gentlemen." After a few statements "the
minister cried out, 'That is false doctrine ; that is predestination.'
Then the roar began, to second which they had brought an
huntsman with his hounds. But the dogs vv^ere wiser than the
men, for they could not bring them to make any noise at all.
One of the gentlemen supplied their place. He assured us he
was such, or none w^ould have suspected it. For his language
was as base, foul, and porterly as ever was heard at Billingsgate.
Dog, rascal, puppy, and the like terms adorned almost every
sentence. . . . I left him the field and withdrew to my lodg-
ing." ^^ At Penzance "a company of soldiers were in town,
whom, toward the close of the sermon, the good officer ordered
to march through the congregation; but they readily opened and
"John Wesley, Journal, March 19, 1742.
'"Ibid., September 12, 1742.
^"Ibid., Septemljer 4, 1765.
JOHN WESLEY 21
closed again. It made very little disturbance." ^^ At Epworth
"a kind of gentleman got a little party together and took great
pains to disturb the congregation. He hired a company of boys
to shout, and made a poor man exceedingly drunk, who bawled
out much ribaldry and nonsense, while he himself played the
French-horn. But he had little fruit for his labor." ^^
Cornwall and neighboring counties, which were places of
such bitter persecution, as might be expected, were also the scenes
of many disturbances. At Taunton in Somersetshire, Wesley
says, "I had designed to preach in the yard of our inn; but before
I had named my text, having uttered only two words, ^Jesus
Christ,' a tradesman of the town (who it seems was mayor-
elect) made so much noise and uproar that we thought it best to
give him the ground." ^^ However, the people followed Wesley
to a room where he preached. At Trebouan ''the constable and
his companions came and read the proclamation against riots.
When he had done I told him, 'We will do as you require; we
will disperse within an hour,' and went on with my sermon." ^^
At Newlyn "an immense multitude of people was gathered to-
gether; but their voice was as the roaring of the sea. I began
to speak, and the noise died away. But before I had ended my
prayer some poor wretches of Penzance began cursing and swear-
ing, and thrusting the people off the bank. In two minutes I
was thrown in the midst of them, when one of Newlyn, a bitter
opposer till then, turned about and swore, 'None shall meddle
with the man: I will lose my life first.' Many others were of
his mind. So I walked a hundred yards forward, and finished
my sermon without any interruption." ^^ At Saint Ives "Mr. S.
sent his man to ride his horse to and fro through the midst of
the congregation. Some of the chief men in the town bade me
^^John Wesley, Journal, August 23, 1780.
''Ibid., June 13, 1763.
'^Ibid., September 19, 1743.
"Ibid., July 10, 1742.
Note — Often the magistrates assumed that field preaching was rioting.
''Ibid., July 12, 1747.
22 EARLY METHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
go on, and said no man should hinder me; but I judged it better
to retire to the room." ^^ At Grimsby "a young gentleman with
his companions quite drowned my voice till a poor woman took
up the cause, and by reciting a few passages of his life wittily
and keenly enough turned the laugh of all his companions full
upon him. He could not stand it, but hastened away." ^^
Once in a while the disturbers dispersed themselves, as for
example the following : "I came to Wycombe. It being the day
on which the mayor was chosen, abundance of rabble full of
strong drink came to the preaching on purpose to disturb. But
they soon fell out among themselves, so that I finished my
sermon in tolerable quiet." ^^ However, it was not always thus.
At Skircoat-green ''our brethren were much divided in their
judgment. JNIany thought I ought to preach at Halifax-Cross.
Others judged it to be impracticable; the very mention of it, as
a possible thing, having set all the town in an uproar. However,
to the Cross I went. There was an immense number of people,
roaring like the waves of the sea. But the far greater part of
them were still as soon as I began to speak. They seemed more
and more attentive and composed till a gentleman got some of
the rabble together, and began to throw money among them,
which occasioned much hurry and confusion." ^^ Wesley then
removed to another place.
In Ireland occasionally the disturber got himself into trouble.
At Swaddling-bar ''a large room was offered; but it was quickly
so full and so hot that I was obliged to go out into the street.
I had hardly named my text before a poor papist at a small dis-
tance from me began blowing a horn. But a gentleman, stepping
up, snatched his horn away, and without ceremony knocked him
down."^'' At Kilfinnan *T had hardly begun to speak when a
young person, a kind of gentleman, came and took great pains to
""John Wesley, Journal, August 22), 1750.
"Ibid., February 23, 1747.
"Ibid., September 25, 1746.
^"Ibid., August 22, 1748.
*'Ibid., April 30. 17G7.
JOHN WESLEY 2^
make a disturbance. Mr. Dancer mildly desired him to desist;
but was answered with a volley of oaths and blows. One of the
town then encountered him and beat him well. But the noise
preventing my being heard, I retired a few hundred yards, . . .
and quietly finished my discourse." ^^ ''After a long day's
journey I preached in the new courthouse at Sligo to far the
worst congregation that I have seen since I came into the king-
dom. Some (miscalled gentry) laughed and talked without fear
or shame till I openly reproved them ; and the rabble was equally
rude near the door." ^^
Wesley rode to Pocklington, and Vv^as sorry when he found
it was fair-day ; that notice had been given that he would preach,
especially since he heard that there was no society in the town.
Besides, the unusual bitterness of several who met him in the
street made the prospect still more unpromising. As the room
which had been provided was scarcely five yards square, he then
looked at a yard which was proposed ; ''but one circumstance of
this I did not like. It was plentifully furnished with stones;
artillery ready at hand for the devil's drunken champions." ^^
Soon a larger room was offered, to which he went immediately
and preached without molestation.
The above shows Wesley's caution; the following shows the
craftiness of one of his friends : W^esley was preaching at Hartle-
pool. "Toward the close of the sermon, a queer, clumsy man,
I suppose a country wit, took a great deal of pains to disturb
the congregation. When I had done, fearing he might hurt
those who were gathered about him, I desired two or three of
our brethren to go to him, one after the other, and not to say
much themselves, but let him talk till he was weary. They did so.
^'John Wesley. Journal, May 25, 1767.
Note — At Athlone, says Wesley, "a Popish miller, prompted by his
betters, so called, got up to preach over against me. But some of his com-
rades throwing a little dirt in his face, he leaped down in haste to fight them.
This bred a fray in which he was so roughly handled that he was glad to
get off with only a bloody nose." (John Wesley, Journal, July 14, 1765.)
^-John Wesley, Journal, May 23, 1785.
^Ibid., April 25, 1752.
24 EARLY METHODISTS UXDER PERSECUTION
but without effect, as his fund of ribaldry seemed inexhaustible.
William x\twood then tried another way. He got into the circle
close to him, and, listening a while, he said, 'That is pretty ; pray,
say it over again.' 'What, are you deaf.' 'No; but for the
entertainment of the people. Come : we are all attention.' After
repeating this twice or thrice, the wag could not stand it, but with
two or three curses walked clearly off." ^^ "In the evening,
though it was cold, I was obliged to preach abroad in Newcastle.
One buft'oon labored much to interrupt; but, as he was bawling
with his mouth wide open, some arch boys gave him such a
mouthful of dirt as quite satisfied him." ^^ At Jatterson "I had
finished my sermon when a gentleman, violently pressing in,
bade the people get home and mind their business. As he used
some bad words, my driver spake to him. He fiercely said, 'Do
you think I need to be taught by a chaise-boy ?' The lad replied,
'Really, sir, I do think so.' The conversation ended.'' "^'
A great many times A\^esley uses the expression, "Lost
labor." Sometimes he looked straight into the eye of the dis-
turbers, at other times some in the audience took the disturbers
in hand. Often both preacher and listeners paid no attention to
those who mocked, and thus their labor was lost. Occasionally
Wesley went down among those who were disturbing, took them
by the hand, and reasoned with them. At other times he re-
buked them openly from the stand. He used a diversity of means
according to circumstances. During his later years he so often
speaks of disturbances by those who by the courtesy of England
are called gentlemen. Sometimes he rebuked these openly, but
oftener he paid no attention to them other than to pity them.
Once he exclaims, "How much inferior to the keelmen and
colliers !" "^
This is the nature of the disturbances by which Wesley was
constantly annoyed. But these were the mild cases. It will be
^'John Wesley, Journal, July 4. 1759.
^'Ibid., March 17, 1775.
"Ibid., July 21, 1777.
'"Ibid., October 8, 1778.
JOHN WESLEY 25
of interest now to notice some of the mobs which he encountered,
and the violence that he suffered.
The first real mob which he encountered was at Bristol.
Here the court, the alleys, and all the street, upward and down-
ward, were ^'filled with people, shouting, cursing, and swearing
and ready to swallow the ground with fierceness of rage."^^
Later he heard that some of these were hired and made drunk
for the purpose of disturbing him.^^ His next encounter was in
London. He says : ''As I returned home in the evening I had no
sooner stepped out of the coach than the mob, who were gathered
in great numbers about my door, quite closed me in." He imme-
diately spoke to those that were next to him "of righteousness
and judgment to come."*^ By this means he succeeded in
restoring quiet. Two weeks later as he returned home he found
"an innumerable mob round the door, who opened all their
throats the moment they saw [him]."^^ Again he succeeded in
calming them, and by the same means as before. At Long-Lane
many heavy stones were thrown, one of which went just over
his shoulder.*^ At Marylebone Fields many stones fell on his
right and on his left.^^ At Long-Lane again the opposers "were
above measure enraged; they not only made all possible noise,
but violently thrust many persons to and fro, struck others, and
brake down part of the house. At length they began throwing
large stones upon the house, which forcing their way wherever
they came, fell down together with the tiles among the people,
so that they were in danger of their lives." ^^
At Pelton: "As I was meeting the leaders a company of
young men, having prepared themselves by strong drink, broke
open the door, and came rushing in with the utmost fury."*^
^'John Wesley, Journal, April i, 1740.
®^Ibid., April 12, 1740.
^'Ibid., September 14, 1740.
"Ibid., September 28, 1740.
^'Ibid., February 16, 1741.
*''Ibid., May 3, 1741.
"Ibid., January 25, 1742.
*''Ibid., March 18, 1743.
26 EARLY METHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
However, their violence ended here. At Cowbridge *'the sons of
BeHal, gathered themselves together, headed by one or two
wretches, called gentlemen, and continued shouting, cursing, blas-
pheming, and throwing showers of stones almost without inter-
mission. So, after some time spent in prayer for them, I judged
it best to dismiss the congregation."^^ At Newcastle the mob
assembled, but at the height of their rudeness they had some
humanity left.^^ However, Wesley deemed it best to retire.
During the riots at Wednesbury several friends earnestly
desired Wesley to call there. He went, and his experience was
as follows :
At noon he preached near the middle of the town to a far
larger congregation than he expected. He was not disturbed
either during the service or while going to or from it. How-
ever, as he was writing at Francis Ward's in the afternoon, a
cry arose that a mob had beset the house.* ^ They joined in
prayer, and the mob dispersed. He then told his friends that it
was time to go. They pressed him exceedingly to stay, and in
order that he might not offend them he remained, though he
foresaw what would follow. Before five the mob surrounded
the house in greater numbers than before. They all cried, "Bring
out the minister; we will have the minister." Wesley desired
one to take their captain by the hand and bring him into the
house. After a few words he was quieted. He then desired him
to go and bring in two or three of his companions who were
most angry. He brought in two, who in a few minutes were as
calm as their leader. Wesley then went out among the mob
and, standing on a chair, he "asked, 'What do any of you want
with me?' Some said, 'We want you to go with us to the justice.'
I replied, 'That I will do with all my heart.' I then spoke a few
words, which God applied, so that they cried out with might
and main, 'This gentleman is an honest gentleman, and we will
'"John Wesley, Journal, May 7, 1743.
''Ibid., July 10, 1743.
'"John Wesley, Journal, October 20. 1743; Works, Modern Christianity
Exemplified, par. 34; Letter to Mr, J. Smith, June 25, 1746, par. 10, etc.
JOHN WESLEY 27
spill our blood in his defense.' I asked, 'Shall we go to the justice
to-night or in the morning?' Most of them cried, To-night,
to-night.' On which I went before and two or three hundred
followed, the rest returning whence they came."
The night came on before they had walked a mile, and with
it a heavy rain. However, they went on to Bently-Hall, two
miles from Wednesbury. But the justice, Mr. Lane, sent word
that he was in bed, and refused to see them. They then decided
to go to Justice Persehouse at Walsal. But he likewise sent
word that he was in bed, and also refused to see them. The mob
then dispersed. About fifty undertook to convoy Wesley, but they
had not gone far when the mob from Walsal came upon them.
The Darlstan mob made what defense they could, but they were
weary as well as outnumbered, so in a short time, after many
had been knocked down, the rest ran away and left Wesley with
the Walsal mob.
He says : "To attempt speaking was vain, for the noise on
every side was like the roaring of the sea. So they dragged me
along till we came to the town; where, seeing the door of a
large house open, I attempted to go in, but a man, catching me
by the hair, pulled me back into the middle of the mob. They
made no miore stop till they had carried me through the main
street from one end of town to the other. I continued speaking
air the time to those within hearing, feeling no pain or weariness.
At the west end of the town, seeing a door half open, I made
toward it, and would have gone in but a gentleman in the shop
would not suffer me, saying, 'They would pull the house down
to the ground.' However, I stood at the door and asked, 'Are
you willing to hear me speak ?' Many cried out : 'No, no ! Knock
his brains out! Down with him! Kill him at once!' Others
said, 'Nay, but we will hear him first.' I began asking, 'What
evil have I done? Which of you all have I wronged in word
or deed?' And continued speaking for above a quarter of an
hour till my voice suddenly failed. Then the floods began to
lift up their voices again; and many cried out, 'Bring him away,
bring him away 1 '"
28 EARLY METHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
"In the meantime my strength and my voice returned, and
I broke out aloud into prayer. And now the man, who just
before headed the mob, turned and said, 'Sir, I will spend my
life for you; follow me, and not one soul here shall touch a hair
of your head.' " Others now aided him, which checked the mob.
It rallied again at the bridge and continued for a time. But at
ten, he says, ''God brought me safe to Wednesbury, having lost
only one flap of my waistcoat, and a little skin from one of my
Wherever there are accounts of Wesley's trials by others
they show that Wesley minimizes his own sufferings. The next
day Charles Wesley met his brother. He says : "My brother
came, delivered out of the mouth of the lions. He looked like a
soldier of Christ. His clothes were torn to tatters. The mob
of Wednesbury, Darlston, and Walsal were permitted to take
him by night out of the Society-house and carry him about
several hours with a full purpose to murder him." ^^ A few days
later Charles got the full particulars from others : "Three of the
brethren and one young woman kept near him all the time, striv-
ing to intercept the blows. Sometimes he was almost borne upon
their shoulders through the violence of the multitude, who struck
at him continually that he might fall. And, if he had once been
down he would have risen no more. Many blows he escaped
through his lowness of stature, and his enemies were struck
down by them." '"'^ . . . "The ruffians ran about asking, 'Which
is the minister?' and lost and found and lost him again. . , .
Some cried, 'Drown him ! Throw him into a pit !' Some, 'Hang
him up upon the next tree !' Others, 'Away with him !' and some
did him the infinite honor to cry in express terms, 'Crucify
him !' One and all said, 'Kill him,' but they were not agreed what
death to put him to. . . ." ^^
"To some who cried, 'Strip him; tear off his clothes!' he
mildly answered, 'That you need not do; I will give you my
^"Charles Wesley, Journal, October 21, 1743.
'"Ihifl., October 25, 1743.
""Ibid., Octoljcr 21, 1743.
JOHN WESLEY 29
clothes if you want them.' In the intervals of tumult he spoke,
the brethren assured me, with as much composure and correct-
ness as he used to do in their Societies. The spirit of glory rested
upon him. As many as he spoke to, or but laid his hand on, he
turned into friends. He did not wonder, as he himself told me,
that the martyrs should feel no pain in the flames; for none of
their blows hurt him, although one was so violent as to make his
nose and mouth gush out with blood. . . . Just as he was within
another door, one fastened his hand in his hair, and drew him
backward almost to the ground. A brother, with the peril of his
life, fell on the man's hand and bit it, which forced him to loose
his hold." 52
''The instrument of his deliverance at last was the ringleader
of the mob, the greatest profligate in the country. He carried
him through the river upon his shoulders. ^^ A sister they threw
into it. Another's arm they broke. No farther hurt was done
our people; but many of our enemies were sadly wounded." ^^
Though there had been much rioting in Cornwall, yet here
also Wesley escaped with but little personal injury. At Saint
Ives he received one blow on the side of the head.^^ The next
April he says, "As soon as we went out we were saluted, as
usual, with a huzza, and a few stones or pieces of dirt." ^^
At Falmouth he was very fortunate in his escape. He says :
"About three in the afternoon I went to see a gentlewoman who
had been long indisposed. Almost as soon as I was set down
the house was beset on all sides by an innumerable multitude of
people. A louder or more confused noise could hardly be at the
^'Charles Wesley, Journal, Oct. 21, 1743.
''^NoTE — On this occasion Charles says: "I took several new members
into the society; and among them the young man whose arm was broke, and,
upon trial, Munchin, the late captain of the mob. He has been constantly
under the Word since he rescued my brother." (Charles Wesley, Journal,
October 25, 1743.) It appears that Munchin had been a prize fighter, and
it was he who rescued Wesley. (John Wesley, Journal, October 20, 1743.)
°*rbid., October 21, 1743.
"John Wesley, Journal, September 16, 1743.
^*Ibid., April 3, 1744.
30 EARLY J^IETHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
taking of a city by storm. . . . The rabble roared with all their
throats, 'Bring out the Canorum ! Where is the Canorum !' — an
unmeaning word which the Cornish generally use instead of
Methodist. No answer being given, they quickly forced open
the outer door, and filled the passage. Only a wainscot partition
was between us, which was not likely to stand long. I imme-
diately took down a large looking glass, which hung against it,
supposing the whole side would fall in at once. When they began
their work with bitter imprecations, poor Kitty was utterly
astonished, and cried out, 'O, sir, what must we do?' I said.
'We must pray.' Indeed, at that time, to all appearance, our
lives were not worth an hour's purchase. She asked, 'But, sir,
is it not better for you to hide yourself? to get in the closet?' I
answered, 'No, it is better for me to stand just where I am.'
Among those without were the crews of some privateers, which
were lately come into the harbor. Some of these being angry
at the slowness of the rest, thrust them away, and coming up
altogether, set their shoulders to the inner door, and cried out,
'Avast, lads, avast !' Away went all the hinges at once, and the
door fell back into the room. I stepped forward at once into the
midst of them, and said : 'Here I am. Which of you has any
thing to say to me? To which of you have I done any wrong?
To you ? Or you ? Or you ?' I continued speaking till I came,
bareheaded as I was (for I purposely left my hat that they might
all see my face), into the middle of the street, and then raising
my voice, said : 'Neighbors, countrymen ! Do you desire to hear
me speak?' They cried out vehemently: 'Yes, yes. He shall
speak. He shall. Nobody shall hinder him.' But, having
nothing to stand on and no advantage of ground, I could be
heard by few only. However, I spoke without intermission, and
as far as the sound reached the people were still : till one or two
of their captains turned about and swore, 'Not a man shall touch
him.' " '''^ Wesley was then conducted to the town, which he soon
after left by boat.
7ohn Wesley, Journal, July 4, 1745.
JOHN WESLEY 31
In 1745 Wesley was preaching at Tolcarn when a mob
arose. As he stood upon a high wall and kept his eyes upon them
many were softened, and grew calmer and calmer. One of their
captains observing this went round and pushed him down. He
lit on his feet, and finding himself near one of the bitterest of
the horsemen, he took him by the hand and held it while he argued
the case with him. The man was not convinced, but he grew
milder and they parted civilly. ^^
This year, 1745, Wesley was at Wednesbury again. At first
a few persons threw some clods, but they soon retreated, after
which there was no disturbance at all.^^ At Leeds, however,
after preaching and meeting the society, the mob pelted him and
his friends with dirt and stones a great part of the way home.
In the evening he preached again. The congregation was much
larger, "and so was the mob at our return and likewise in higher
spirits, being ready to knock out all our brains, for joy, that the
Duke of Tuscany was emperor." ^^ At Leeds, some later, he
says : "I preached at five. As we went home a great mob fol-
lowed and threw whatever came to hand. I was struck several
times, once or twice in the face, but not hurt at all."^^
At Plymouth: "As we were entering the dock one met us
and desired we would go the back way. *For,' said he, 'there
are thousands of people waiting about Mr. Hide's doors.' We
rode straight into the midst of them. They saluted us wnth three
huzzas, after which I alighted, took several of them by the hand,
and began to talk with them. I would gladly have passed an
hour with them, and believe, if I had, there had been an end
of the riot; but the day being far spent — for it was past nine
o'clock — I was persuaded to go in. The mob then recovered
their spirits and fought valiantly with the doors and windows." ^^
At Shepton the mob, hired and made drunk for the occasion.
"'John Wesley, Journal, July 7, 1745.
"Ibid., May 5, 1745.
"''Ibid., September 12, 1745.
'^Ibid., February 22, 1746.
"Ibid., June 26, 1747.
32 EARLY METHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
mistook the place of preaching, so were too late to prevent the
service. ''However," says Wesley, "they attended us from the
preaching house to William Stone's, throwing dirt, stones, and
clods in abundance, but they could not hurt us. . . . After we
were gone into the house they began throwing great stones in
order to break the door; but . . . they dropped that design for
the present. They first broke all the tiles on the penthouse over
the door, and then poured in a shower of stones at the windows."
After a time Wesley concluded that it was better to leave the
house. So, while the mob burst in at one door, they walked out
at the other. No one noticed them, though they were within five
yards of each other.'"'-^
At Newlyn, while preaching, Wesley met "a rude, gaping,
staring rabble-rout, some or other of whom were throwing dirt
or stones continually."^* They quieted, however, before he had
finished. But at Roughlee it was quite different. He had heard
that a mob was coming from Colne, so he hastened on and began
preaching a little after twelve. When about half through his
discourse the mob came and broke up the meeting.^ ^ The cap-
tain of the mob said that he was a deputy constable and that he
was come to take Wesley to the justice. Wesley says: "I went
with him, but I had scarce gone ten yards when a man of his
company struck me with his fist in the face with all his might.
Quickly after another threw his stick at my head." They then
took Wesley to the justice, and Wesley desired the ofBcer to let him
"^John Wesley, Journal, February 12, 1748.
Note — At this house one of the captains of the mob, who had followed
them inside, found that he could not get out. He was greatly disturbed at this
and kept close to Wesley, thinking himself safer when near him. But, says
Wesley, "staying a little behind, when I went up a pair of stairs and stood
close on one side where we were a little sheltered, a large stone struck him
on the forehead, and the blood spouted out like a stream. He cried out:
'O, sir, are we to die to-night? What must I do? What must I do?' I said:
'Pray to God. He is able to deliver you from all danger.' He took my advice,
and began praying in such a manner as he had scarce done ever since he
was born." (John Wesley, Journal, February 12, 1748.)
'''John Wesley, Journal, September 25, 1748.
*'lbid., August 24, 1748.
JOHN WESLEY 33
go. Once he attempted to go with the deputy constable, but the
mob immediately followed with oaths, curses, and stones. One of
them beat him to the ground, and when he arose the whole mob
surrounded him and forced him back into the house. All this
time the officer was talking of justice and law. The magistrate
finally took Wesley away from the mob.^^ Later, when he visited
this place, he found that there had been no tumults there since
a Mr. W had died.^^
In 1748 Wesley met a vast number of people at Bolton, who
were utterly wild. While he was preaching they continued en-
deavoring to thrust him down from the steps on which he was
standing. They succeeded several times, but he walked back
up again.^^ Then they threw stones. But he was not hurt.^^
The next year, however, he met here a mob that possessed such
rage and bitterness as he had scarcely ever seen in any creature
that bore the form of man. They followed him and his friends
to the house where they went, and as soon as they had entered
the mob took possession of all the avenues to it and filled the
streets from one end to the other. The mob burst into the house,
took one of the company and rolled him in the mud. But the
Methodists talked to the ruffians and finally Wesley got a hear-
ing, which quieted them."^^
Wesley was desired to preach at Llanerellymadd, Wales. He
went, but as he entered a house, he says, ''We were scarce set
down when the sons of Belial from all parts, gathered together,
and compassed the house. I could just understand their oaths
*®John Wesley, Journal,
^^Ibid., June 8, 1752.
''"Note — Tables sometimes turn. At this time, Wesley says, "one man
was bawling just at my ear when a stone struck him on the cheek, and he was
still. A second was forcing his way down to me till another stone hit him
on the forehead. . . . He came no farther. A third, being close to me,
stretched out his hand, and in the instant a sharp stone came upon the joints
of his fingers. He shook his hand, and was very quiet." (John Wesley,
Journal, August 28, 1748.)
**Ibid., August 28, 1748.
™Ibid., October 18, 1749.
34 EARLY METHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
and curses, which . . . sounded on every side. ... I judged it
best to look them in the face while it was open day. So I bade
them open the door, and Mr. Hooper and I walked straight
through the midst of them.'"^^ This quieted the rabble."^^
At Eden-derry in Ireland, according to his custom, Wesley
went to church. He says, "When I came out I had a large
attendance, even in the churchyard, hallooing and calling
names." '^^ At Water ford he was warned of threatened trouble,
and after a short stay, rode on. At eleven o'clock at night he
reached Emo, he says, "and would willingly have passed the rest
of the night there, but the good woman of the inn was not
minded that I should. For some time she would not answer ; at
last she opened the door just wide enough to let out four dogs
upon me. So I rode on." '^^ At Waterford he went to the court-
house and began preaching, "but the mob was so numerous and
noisy that few could hear. Perceiving the noise increased more
and more, I walked through the midst of the mob to my lodgings.
They hallooed and shouted and cursed again," "^^ but that was all.
The following is said to be quoted from the diary of Samuel
Wood, a Methodist preacher of a later date: "I was hardly five
years old in April, 1773, when I saw that venerable servant of
God, the Rev. John Wesley, shamefully treated by a rude and
desperate mob while he was preaching in the Bowling Green,
Waterford. ... I stood at the table upon which Mr. Wesley
was standing; and while I heard the shouting of the crowd,
and saw the dead animals and cabbage stalks flying around his
hoary head, I was filled with pity and horror. . . . Mr. Wesley
''John Wesley, Journal, April i, 1750.
^"NoTE — While waiting for a boat in Wales the house where Wesley was
being entertained was beset by a mob and the door burst open. The captain
burst in first. The daughter was standing in the hall with a pail of water, with
which, either purposely or from fright, she covered him from head to foot.
He became so alarmed that he cried as well as he could, "Murder I murder 1"
This ended the riot. (John Wesley, Journal, Alarch 31, 1750.)
"John Wesley, Journal, April 17, 1748.
^*Ibid., June 15, 1750.
"Ibid., September 2, 1752.
JOHN WESLEY 35
must have been seriously injured but for the manly intervention
of Mr. Alcock," who took him in his arms and carried him to a
neighboring house. "^^
After 1750 Wesley makes numerous references to mobs
coming to disturb, but becoming quiet as soon as he came to the
place, or when he began to preach, or at any rate shortly after
he had commenced his sermon. This indicates that he was be-
ginning to win his way in England. However, there were still
a few instances of violence to him, and occasionally, as we have
already seen, it was very severe.
At Durham he went into the street to preach, but the mob
was so numerous and so loud that it was not possible for many
to hear. However, he spoke on, so to prevent this some of
the rabble brought an engine and threw water on the congre-
gation, but none fell upon him.'^^ At Evesham he had to with-
draw from the place where he began to preach and go to the
society room.^^ At Pocklington a large mob gathered, "and
for fear they should not make noise enough, the good church-
warden hired men to ring the bells." "^^ At Burslem a clod struck
him on the side of the head.^^ i\t Southney-Green, he says, "a
lewd, profane, drunken vagabond had so stirred up many of the
baser sort that there was much noise, hurry, and confusion.
While I was preaching several things were thrown, and much
pains taken to overturn the table. And after I concluded many
endeavored to throw me down, but I walked through the midst
and left them." *^ At Norwich "the mob gathered in great
numbers, made a huge noise, and began to throw large stones
against the outward door." ^^ They soon put themselves out of
breath and left.^^
''^Anon., John Wesley, the Methodist, p. 216.
"John Wesley, Journal, May 25, 1752.
^^Ibid., March 21, 1753.
''•Ibid., July 15, 1757.
"•Ibid., March 9, 1760.
^'Ibid., August 29, 1762.
®^Ibid., October 15, 1764.
*^NoTE — ^At Bradford, when nearly through his sermon, some began to
36 EARLY IMETHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
J\Ir. J. U. Walker relates that a service which was con-
ducted by Wesley on the Cow-Green at Halifax "is remembered
by one or tw^o aged individuals to this day. ... A singular
scene took place in the public street while Mr. Wesley, attended
by his friends, was either going to or coming from the Cow-
Green. ... A man of the name of Bramley, unable longer to
subdue his fiendish rage, burst through the crowd, and running
toward Air. Wesley struck him a most violent blow with the flat
of his hand on the cheek. The holy saint paused, and, though
tears started from his eyes from the smartness of the blow, he
remembered the admonition of his Master, 'Whosoever shall
smite thee on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.' He
turned to his avenger 'the other cheek also.' The coward was so
struck with the circumstance that he slunk back into the crowd." ^*
Wesley mentions having been at Halifax, but he makes no men-
tion of this shameful incident.^^ And the shame of it is intensi-
fied by the fact that now Wesley was sixty-nine years old, a
man whose age at least should have made such an occurrence
impossible. His trials were great indeed, but certainly not less
remarkable than the patience with which he bore them. Cer-
tainly, this was not to satisfy personal ambition,^^ but for the
furtherance of a cause in which he most profoundly believed.
For its sake he not only suffered violence, but he sacrificed his
most cherished desires, as well as the ordinary comforts of
life. When an old man he frequently expressed his longing for
home and rest. He says : 'T enjoyed a little rest. I do not find
the least change in this respect. I love quietness and silence as
well as ever, but, if I am called into noise and tumult, all is
disturb, Wesley says, "especially one, called a gentleman, who had filled his
pockets with rotten eggs. But a young man, coming unawares, clapped his
hands on each side and mashed them all at once. In an instant he was per-
fume all over, though it was not so sweet as balsam." (John Wesley, Journal,
September 19, 1769.)
"'J. U. Walker, History of Wesleyan Methodism in Halifax, p. 121.
"''John Wesley, Journal, July 8, 1772.
""'Lecky, England in the Eighteenth Century, vol. iv, p. 598.
JOHN WESLEY 37
well." ^"^ "I rested here. Lovely place, and lovely company. But
I believe there is another world; therefore, I must 'arise and go
hence.' " ^^ "How gladly would I rest here a few days ! but it
is not my place. I am to be a wanderer upon the earth; only
let me find rest in a better world." ^^ It is little wonder that such
a man received from his followers deep tributes of esteem.
Exposed to brutal insolence and rage,
Seized by the violent hands of ruffians rude,
The lawless rabble riotous ingage,
Threaten his life, and vow to drink his blood.
Each threatening storm he more than dared to meet
Though perils, dangers, deaths, his way pursued;
While, with the love of God and man replete.
Firm as a rock impregnable he stood.
As a good soldier hardships to endure.
By every grace, by truth and love unfeigned ;
Thus armed with righteousness and knowledge pure,
Contempt, reproach and suffering he sustained.
Trampling on honor, pleasure, wealth, and fame.
Through what a length of useful days he ran !
One universal character the same,
The faithful, gracious, self-consistent man.
Splendor and pomp, how little did he prize !
By him how valued, loved the poor, the low !
How did he with each sufferer sympathize,
A constant sharer of their every woe!
His virtue gave him majesty in death:
His happy spirit ready-winged for flight ;
T'll praise — I'll praise" — employed his latest breath,
Then soared away to realms of endless light.^^
"John Wesley, Journal, May i, 1766.
''Ibid., June 23, 1779.
'^Ibid., July 3, 1788.
^''James Kenton, A Token ... to Memory of John Wesley, p. 11,
Tyerman Collection of Pamphlets, vol. ccxxvii.
Charles Wesley took very little part in the controversies
with which the Methodists were constantly engaged. His facul-
ties expressed themselves in writing lyrics. Some of his songs
were written on horseback, some while the mob was threatening,
but most of them, of course, while in the calm of a quiet retreat.
However, so remarkable was this gift that it mattered little
under what circumstances he was placed he could compose hymns.
As a preacher he was not the equal either of his brother or
of Whitefield. Nor did he possess the remarkable tact of his
brother in handling the mobs. Yet no one can doubt his courage.
He boldly faced any mob, and even in the greatest danger was
He was a strict churchman, and when necessity compelled
John Wesley to adopt expedients, Charles Wesley could not
follow him. Moreover, during his entire active life he suffered
from ill health. Because of these facts, during much of his life,
and especially during his later years, he was much less active as
an itinerant than his brother. He resided much at Bristol or
London, and, during his brother's absence, he cared for the
Societies near his home. However, in his earlier years he cer-
tainly suffered violence as a good soldier.
In March, 1739, he expounded the gospel at a friend's, where
he found a troublesome opposer.^ The next month he was opposed
at Broadoaks, and after the service an opponent, half in jest and
half in earnest, struck him.^ He had difficulty again at Glouces-
ter, where *'some without attempted to make a disturbance by
'Charles Wesley, Journal, March 25, 1739.
''Ibid., May 27, 1739.
CHARLES WESLEY 39
setting on the dogs." ^ At Evesham the enemy was quiet till
he announced the last hymn, when they set up a roar.* At
Blackheath a woman screamed out so loud that he could not be
heard. She was removed.^ On another occasion he was in-
formed that many had bound themselves with a curse to make a
disturbance in the church and not allow him to preach.^
The next year he visited the fashionable quarters. He
says: "Satan took it ill to be attacked in his headquarters, that
Sodom of our land, Bath. While I was explaining the trembling
jailer's question he raged horribly in his children. They went
out, and came in again, and mocked, and at last roared as if
each man's name was legion." "^ At Shields Wesley went to
church. There the minister could not be heard while reading
prayers, but, says Wesley, "I heard him loud enough afterward,
calling for the churchwardens to quiet the disturbance. ... I
fancy he thought I should preach there. . . . The clerk came to
me bawling out it was consecrated ground, and I had no business
to preach on it. . . . When he had cried himself out of breath
I whispered him in the ear that I had no intention to preach
there." ^ Later he preached in the churchyard, where *'the
churchwardens and others labored in vain to interrupt by throw-
ing dirt, nay, and money, among the people."^ At Leeds, he
says, "in the midst of my discourse a gentleman came riding up,
and almost over the people." ^^
At Shepton-Mallet a drunken man attempted to disturb
hlm,^^ and at London a cracker was thrown into the room,
which many thought was the discharge of a gun.^^ At Morva
'Charles Wesley, Journal, August 23, 1739.
*Ibid., March 25, 1740.
"Ibid., May 14, 1740.
^Ibid., November 16, 1740.
''Ibid., July II, 1 741.
*Ibid., June 16, 1743,
"Ibid., June 16, 1743.
^"Ibid., February 12, 1744.
"Ibid., August ID, 1745.
"Ibid., October 18, 1745.
40 EARLY METHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
stones were thrown while he was preaching/^ and at Saint
Eudy's, as he was concluding, a gentleman rode up to him
fiercely, and ordered him to cease. ^"^ At Dudley some drunkards
endeavored to silence him/^ while at Youghal "a wild multitude
following, almost crow^ded me and one another to death." ^^'
At Lakeham, toward the close of his service, a huge man
tried to ride up to him, but the people interfered.^"^ In 1754
two drunken men tried to interrupt him. One of them *'laid his
mouth to my ear, and talked almost the whole time" that Wesley
was speaking. ^^ And in 1780 in a letter to his daughter he says :
"The roaring of the waves is ceased, but the agitation continues.
. . . No wonder your mother was terrified when I was pro-
scribed as a popish priest." ^^
It is well now to notice some of the severer trials that he
Early in his career he was obliged to face court proceedings.
While walking over an open field to Kennington Common, where
he was to preach, he was threatened with arrest for trespass. ^^
A little over two weeks later he was served with a writ.^^ The
editor of his journal adds the following footnote: "The damages
with which he was charged were 10 pounds; and the taxed costs
of the suit which he was required to pay, amounted to 9 pounds,
16 shillings, and 8 pence. The bill of this nefarious transaction
had been preserved among the family papers of Mr. Charles
Wesley, with the following indorsement in his own handwriting :
*I paid them the things that I never took.' *To be rejudged in
that day.' " 22
'^Charles Wesley, Journal,
August II, 1746.
October 13, 1746.
September 8, 1748.
July 24, 1754.
August 2, 1754.
'"Charles Wesley, Letter to his
daughter, June 14,
les Wesley, Journal,
July 25, 1739-
October 18, 1739.
1780, Journal, vol. ii,
CHARLES WESLEY 41
At Wakefield, in 1744, Wesley endured a very unpleasant
experience with the justices. As he was setting out for his
next preaching place he was told that a constable had a warrant
in which his name was mentioned. He sent for the constable,
who showed him the warrant. It was *'To the Constable of
Birstal, in the said Riding or Deputy." ''These are, in His
Majesty's name, to require and command you to summon Mary
Castle of Birstal, aforesaid, and all other such persons as you
are informed can give any information against one Westley, or
any other of the Methodist speakers, for speaking any treasonable
words or exhortations, as praying for the banished, or for the
Pretender, &c., to appear before me." Upon this information
Wesley decided that it was not wise for him to leave till the
matter was cleared up. When Mary Castle heard that he had
not gone she turned back, saying that she had not heard his
statement herself, but that another woman had told her. Three
other witnesses did likewise. Wesley went to the justice, who
said that he had nothing against him, and that he might depart. ^^
This Wesley refused to do till he was cleared of the charge.
Wesley had prayed the Lord to bring home again His banished,
which is an expression based upon the biblical dialogue between
the woman of Tekoa and King David.^^ Wesley says, ''When
all their business was over, and I had been insulted at their door
from eleven in the morning till seven at night, I was sent for,
and asked, 'What would Mr. Wesley desire?'" Wesley replied
that he desired nothing but to know what was alleged against
him. After some more delay the justice told him that he might
depart, for they had nothing against him. Wesley replied :
"Sir, that is not sufficient; I cannot depart till my character is
fully cleared. It is no trifling matter. Even my life is concerned
in the charge." ^^ After considerable more parleying they allowed
him to explain his words. He then asked that the oaths be ad-
ministered to him, and after some more talk he departed with
"Charles Wesley, Journal, March 17, 1744.
"2 Sam. 14. I iff.
"Charles Wesley, Journal, March 15, 1744.
42 EARLY I^IETHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
his 'loyalty unquestionable." But he thought he saw clearly
that had he set out without looking into the matter, there would
have been witnesses enough in his absence to have made serious
trouble. It appears that his presence overawed the witnesses,
and prevented their false testimony.
At Bengeworth Wesley found strong opposition. While
he was preaching, he says, *'a troop poured in from a neighboring
alehouse, and set up their champion, a school master, upon a
bench over against me. For near an hour he spoke for his
master, and I for mine, but my voice prevailed." ^^
Charles Wesley had his encounter with the mobs at Wed-
nesbury, though less violent than that of his brother. He says :
"We were received with the old complaint, 'Behold they that
turn the world upside down are come here also.' I walked
through the town amidst the noisy greetings of our enemies, and
stood on the steps of the market house. An host of men was
laid against us. The floods lifted up their voice and raged
horribly." He began to preach, and he says : 'The street was
full of fierce Ephesian beasts, the principal men setting them on,
who roared and shouted, and threw stones incessantly. Many
struck without hurting me. I besought them in calm love to be
reconciled to Christ. While I was departing a stream of ruffians
was suffered to bear me from the steps. I rose, . . . and was
beat down again." The third time he arose, gave thanks, and
dismissed the audience, then walked quietly back through the
thickest rioters, who reviled, but did not injure him.^'' The
next day he preached again, but does not mention any molestation.
He was here again in October, a few days after the riot
in which his brother was mobbed. He seems to have escaped
any disturbance. ^^ He again visited the place in February,
1744, and again he seems not to have encountered any riots.^^
At Sheffield Wesley encountered a violent mob. He says:
•"Charles Wesley, Journal, March 17, 1740.
"Ibid., May 21, 1743.
^Ibid., October 25, 1743.
""Ibid., February 5, 1744.
CHARLES WESLEY 43
"I came to the flock who are as sheep in the midst of wolves. . . .
As soon as I was in the desk with David Taylor the floods began
to lift up their voice. An oflicer, Ensign Garden, contradicted
and blasphemed. I took no notice of him, and sung on. The
stones flew thick, hitting the desk and people. To save them
and the house I gave notice I should preach out, and look the
enemy in the face." ^^
"The whole army of aliens followed me. The Captain laid
hold on me, and began reviling. . . . The stones often struck
me in the face. After sermon I prayed for sinners, as servants
of their master, the devil; upon which the captain ran at me
with great fury, threatening revenge for my abusing, as he
called it, 'the King his master.' He forced his way through the
brethren, drew his sword, and presented it to my breast. My
breast was immediately steeled. I threw it open, and, fixing my
eye on his, smiled in his face, and calmly said, T fear God and
honor the King.' His countenance fell in a moment. He fetched
a deep sigh, put up his sword, and quietly left the place.
*'We returned to Brother Bennet's and gave ourselves unto
prayer. The rioters followed and exceeded in their outrage all
I have seen before. . . . They pressed hard to break open the
door. I would have gone out to them, but the brethren would
not suffer me. They labored all night for their master, and by
morning had pulled down one end of the house." ^^
The next day, according to agreement, he preached in the
heart of the town, after which, he says: 'T took David Taylor
and walked through the open street to our brother Bennet's wath
the multitude at my heels. We passed by the spot where the
house stood: they had not left one stone upon another. . . .
The mob attended me to my lodgings with great civility, but as
soon as I was entered the house they renewed their threatenings
to pull it down. The windows were smashed in an instant, and
my poor host so frightened that he w^as ready to give up his
"Charles Wesley, Journal, May 25, 1743.
44 EARLY TvIETHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
shield." ^^ Shortty after this the riot act was read among them,
and within an hour they all had left the place.
As he was turning up a lane at Thorpe "the ambush rose
and assaulted us with stones, eggs, and dirt. My horse flew
from side to side till he forced his way through them. ... I
returned and asked what was the reason a clergyman could not
pass without such treatment. At first the rioters scattered, but
their captain, rallying, answered with horrible imprecations and
stones that would have killed both man and beast had they not
been turned aside by a hand unseen. My horse took fright and
hurried away with me down a steep hill. ... I got no hurt, but
only the eggs and the dirt. My clothes abhorred me."^^
Tyerman says that the Methodists were invited to Saint Ives,
Cornwall, and that Charles Wesley was the first to go there. '^*
As he entered the town "the boys and others continued their
rough salute for some time." Two days later he says : "I went
forth to the market house. When we came to the place of
battle the enemy was ready, set in array against us. I began the
Hundredth Psalm, and they beating their drum and shouting.
I stood still and silent for some time, finding they would not
receive my testimony, then offered to speak to some of the most
violent, but they stopped their ears, and ran upon me to pull me
down." He then left the place and "walked leisurely through
the thickest of them, who followed like ramping and roaring
lions." ^^ Four days later he had just named his text "when an
army of rebels broke in upon us like those at Sheffield or Wed-
nesbury. They began in a most outrageous manner, threatening
to murder the people if they did not go out that moment. They
broke the sconces, dashed the windows in pieces, tore away the
shutters, benches, poor-box, and all but the stone walls. . . . They
swore bitterly I should not preach there again. . . . Several
times they lifted up their hands and clubs to strike me, but a
■'■'Cliarles Wesley, Journal, May 26, 1743.
"Ibid., June 27, 1743.
^^Tyerman, Life and Times of John Wesley, vol. i, p. 416.
"Charles Wesley, Journal, July 16, 1743, and July 18, 1743.
CHARLES WESLEY 45
stronger arm restrained them." After about an hour they fell
to quarreling among themselves and drove one another out of
the room.^^ Three days later he had warning of an approaching
trial. He says : "I had scarce begun at the room when news
w^as brought that all the gentlemen were coming to pull it down.
. . . About half a dozen came first and threw eggs in at the
windows. Others cast great stones to break what remained of
the shutters. Others struck the women and swore they would
have the house down." The people were then dismissed.^^
The first time he preached at Pool a drunken miner sought
to disturb him;^^ the second time the churchwarden, heading a
mob, drove the preacher and congregation to the border of the
parish ;^^ when leaving them there, he returned and rewarded
his followers with drink in the old alehouse at Pool.*^
At Wednock Wesley went to church and heard "such a
hodgepotch of railing, foolish lies as Satan himself might be
ashamed of."^^ A week later he says: "I would have finished
my discourse but the minister's mob fell upon us, threatening and
striking all they came near. They swore horribly they would
be revenged on us for our making such a disturbance on the
Sabbath day, our taking the people from the church, and doing
so much mischief continually. They assaulted us with sticks
and stones, and endeavored to pull me down." Wesley was com-
pelled to yield the ground.*^
At Birmingham he preached close to a church, "where
they rang the bells, threw dirt and stones all the time. None
struck me till I had finished my discourse. Then I got several
■^''Charles Wesley, Journal, July 22, 1743.
''Ibid., July 25, 1743.
"Ibid., July 19, 1743.
^'Ibid., July 26, 1743.
**'Geo. Smith, History of Wesleyan Methodism, vol. i, pp. 202ff.
Note — Dr. Smith says : "The following entry may now be found in the
parish book at Illogan : 'Expense at Ann Gartrell's on driving the Methodists,
nine shillings.' " (Geo. Smith, History of Wesleyan Methodism, vol. i, pp. 202ff.)
''Charles Wesley, Journal, July 17, 1743.
'■'Ibid., July 24, 1743-
46 EARLY METHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
blows from the mob that followed me."*^ Two days later he
gave notice that he would preach at .the Cross. He says, "In the
way the mob assaulted us with dirt and stones, making us as the
filth and off scouring of all things." **
At Tanfield Wesley found a great mob about the house and
spent about an hour in taming it.*^ He was on his way to Barley
Hall to preach when a mob, having heard of his coming, con-
cealed itself in the road and attacked him unexpectedly as he
came along. A friend interfered, so that he escaped with only
the loss of his hat.^^ Again, in the vicinity of Bath, he says that
just as he had given out his text, ''Mr. Justice called out and bade
them pull me down. He had stood at a distance, striving to
raise a mob, but not a man would stir at his bidding. Only one
behind struck me with a stone. While I was in prayer he cried
again, 'Pull him down.' I told him I had nothing now to do
but to pray for him. He answered, T have nothing to do with
prayer.' 'So I suppose, sir,' said I, 'but we have.' He came up
and laid hold on my gown, but I stepped down to save him
trouble." This ended the preaching, but after some conversation
Wesley and the justice parted in peace.^"^
Wesley had an encounter with a mob at Shoreham. He
says : "As soon as I began preaching the wild beasts began roar-
ing, stamping, blaspheming, ringing the bells, and turning the
church into a bear garden. I spake on for half an hour, though
only the nearest could hear. The rioters followed us to Mr.
Perronet's house, raging, threatening, and throwing stones. . . .
They continued their uproar after we were housed." ^^ At Penk-
ridge, near Wednesbury, Wesley says : "We had hardly set down
when the sons of Belial beset the house, and beat at the door.
I ordered it to be set open, and immediately they filled the house.
'^Charles Wesley, Journal, February 5, 1744.
^'Ibid., February 7, 1744.
*''Ibicl., February 26, 1744.
^"James Everett, Methodism in Sheffield, pp. 46ff.
^'Charles Wesley, Journal, September 9, 1744.
'"Ibid., September 16, 1746.
CHARLES WESLEY 47
I sat still In the midst of them for half an hour." Again, by
reasoning with the mob, there was no personal violence suffered.*^
At Hexham a squire tried to raise a disturbance, but was
unsuccessful. A titled gentleman then sent word, ordering Wes-
ley to leave the town, and threatened arrest in case he should
preach any more. Wesley replied that, as he had made no an-
nouncement, he would not preach at the Cross. He then preached
in the cockpit. ^^ A few weeks later he attempted to preach in
the same place. But two butlers and two justices created a dis-
turbance. "They brought their cocks and set them a-fighting."
Wesley says : 'T gave them the ground and walked straight to
the Cross, where was four times as many as the other place
could hold. Our enemies followed and strove by all the ways
permitted them to annoy us," but without success.^^
The following incident has a peculiar interest because of
the nature of its termination. Wesley says: *T got to Grimsby
by three, saluted by the shouting mob. At six I began speaking
at the room, and the floods lifted up their voice. Several poor,
wild creatures, almost naked, ran about the room, striking down
all they met. . , . The uproar lasted near an hour, when I told
the poor wretches that I shook off the dust of my feet against
them. Several of them caught at me to drag me down; others
interposed, and kept their companions off. I laid my hand upon
their captain, and he sat down like a lamb at my feet the whole
time. One struck at me, and J. Craw^ford received my blow.
. . . Another of the rebels cried out, 'What, you dog! do you
strike a clergyman?' and fell upon his comrade. Immediately
every man's hand was against his fellow ; and they fell to fighting
and beating one another, till, in a few minutes, they had all
driven one another out of the room." ^^ Wesley then preached.
Two days later he preached here again, and says, "At parting
^^Charles Wesley, Journal, October 15, 1746.
^°Ibid., November 27, 1746.
"Ibid., December 18, 1746.
''"Ibid., January 6, 1747.
48 EARLY METHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
our friends, the rabble saluted us with a few eggs and curses
At Devizes Wesley met a furious mob. He says : ''They
began with ringing the bells backward and running to and fro
in the streets, as lions roaring for their prey. . . . The chief
gentleman of the town headed the mob, and the zealous curate,
Mr. Innys, stood with them in the street the whole time, dancing
for joy. . . . My own name I heard frequently repeated with,
'Bring him out, bring him out !' Their design was first to throw
me into the horse-pond. They continued raging and threatening
for the first hour, and pressed hard upon us to break the door.
The window^s they did break to pieces, and tore down the shut-
ters of the shop." The mob then hurried away to the stable
where the horses were. These they let loose. ^* The next morn-
ing Wesley walked to a house and began preaching a little before
the time appointed. Soon the boys with their bells began, and
shortly after the w^hole army assaulted the house. After this
they began playing a water engine, "which broke the windows,
flooded the room, and spoiled the goods." "The rioters without
continued playing their engine, which diverted them for some
time, but their number and fierceness still increased, and the
gentlemen plied them with pitchers of ale, as much as they would
drink." They w^ere on the point of breaking into the house,
after a three hours' siege, when the proclamation against riots
w^as read. This frightened them away, and the leaders of the
mob became fearful lest the consequences might be more severe
than the}' had planned. These men then began trying to quiet
the rioters and to assist Wesley and his associates to escape,
which, after much difficulty, was accomplished. But Wesley
was so impressed with the seriousness of this riot that he says it
was a day never to be forgotten. ^•''
\\>sley, accompanied by his wife and sister, reached Wor-
cester in the afternoon. In the evening he preached. He says,
''Charles Wesley, Journal, January 8, 1747.
^'Ibid., February 24, 1747.
'^'^Ibid., February 25. 1747.
CHARLES WESLEY 49
"Almost as soon as I began the mob interrupted; but in spite of
their lewd, hellish language, I preached the gospel, though with
much contention." ^^ The next day he tried again to preach.
Of this attempt he says : "We were hardly met when the sons of
Belial poured in upon us, some with their faces blacked, some
without shirts, all in rags. They began to *stand up for the
church' by cursing and swearing, by singing and talking lewdly,
and throwing dust and dirt all over us, with which they had
filled their pockets, such as had any to fill. I was soon covered
from head to foot, and almost blinded." Finding it impossible
to be heard, Wesley retired upstairs. Afterward he walked
through the mob to the mayor' s.^^
At Norwich, contrary to his design, he preached on a hill.
He says: "The rioters were there in great numbers. I called
them to repentance, but they stopped their ears, and ran upon
me, casting stones, etc. I stood it for three quarters of an hour;
but it was fighting with beasts." ^^
Charles Wesley was in Ireland during part of the disturb-
ances there. He says : "At Dublin the popish mob, encouraged
and assisted by the Protestant, is so insolent and outrageous,
that whatever street we pass through it is up in arms." He
preached there, but he says : "None made disturbance till I had
ended. Then the rabble attended us with the usual compliments
to our lodgings." ^^ The next day he preached again, and says :
"At five all was quiet within doors; but we had men, women,
and children upon us as soon as we appeared in the streets. One
I observed crying, 'Swaddler, swaddler !' . . . who was a young
Ishmael indeed, and had not learned to speak. I am sure he
could not be four years old."^^ W^esley continued here for
several days, and afterward returned several times without being
injured, though at one time he and his friends were stoned
^""Charles Wesley, Journal, July 5, 175 1.
'Toid., July 6, 1751.
^'Ibid., August 5, 1754.
^"Ibid., September 9, 1747.
•^'Ibid., September 19, 1747.
50 EARLY METHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
for a street or two, and he received his first blow since coming to
Near Athlone he seems to have had rather a narrow escape,
probably due to his company having reached the place before
they were expected. As he and his friends were nearing the
town they were met by a company of horsemen, who threw a
volley of stones, knocking one of their number senseless from his
horse. There were only five or six of this group, but they saw
many gathering from all sides. They had collected a large pile
of stones, any one of which was sufficient to beat out their
brains. One struck Wesley in the back, which left him nearly
breathless. He says : "The hedges were all lined with papists,
who kept the field till they saw the dragoons coming out of
Athlone. Then they took to their heels." ^^
Thus, though always in ill health, and often confined to his
home or to his bed for days at a time, Charles Wesley displayed
a courage and a purpose as undaunted as the bravest and strongest
of the Methodists. To flinch at the prospect of danger seems
contrary to his nature.^^
"^Charles Wesley, Journal, October 30, 1747.
""Ibid., February 10, 1748.
^""NoTE — In some places the attitude toward Wesley seems to have been
quite favorable. He says : "At Kinsale I am of every religion. The Presby-
terians say I am a Presbyterian; the churchgoers, that I am a minister of
theirs; and the Catholics are sure I am a good Catholic in my heart."
(Charles Wesley, Journal, September 8, 1748.)
The Rev. George Whitefield was the great dramatic evan-
gelist of the Methodist movement. He was by no means equal
to John Wesley as a controversialist, nor was he as tactful in
handling violent opposition. He made no pretensions at all to
writing poetry. He was an amiable man, whose business it was
to preach, and not to dispute. He was glad to enter any pulpit,
dissenting or of the Establishment, and when these were refused
he boldly took to the fields and streets. His sermons do not
indicate the scholarship, nor show the force and logic of Wesley's.
His power lay chiefly in a wonderful personality which flowed
out to his audience freely and compassionately;^ in the perfect
grace of his form, and of his acting and gestures, and in his
voice, which was unusually powerful and sweet, and over which
he possessed a remarkable control. David Garrick, manager of
the theater at Drury Lane, is reported to have said, "I would
give a hundred guineas if I could only say 'Oh!' like Mr. White-
field."^ His faculties won for him the first place among pulpit
orators of his day. Vast throngs crowded to hear him, met
him on the way and followed him from the preaching place. ^
His appeal was not alone to the poor, but the rich, the powerful,
and the learned listened to him with delight. Among these were
Lord Bolingbroke, who expressed approval ; William Pitt, Charles
^Southey, Life of John Wesley, vol. i, p. 150.
^Tyerman, Life of John Wesley, vol. ii, p. 355.
^Southey, Life of John Wesley, vol. i, pp. I49ff.
Note — Benjamin Franklin estimated that in the open air on a calm day
Whitefield could be distinctly heard by over thirty thousand people. (Life of
Franklin, by himself, p. 119.)
52 EARLY METHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
Fox, Lord North, David Hiime,^ Benjamin Franklin, and manjr
Notwithstanding his generosit}^ and kindly spirit, White-
field was compelled to suffer bitter persecution, and on two occa-
sions appears nearly to have lost his life. This, however, seems
not to have daunted him any more than it did his co-laborers,
As with the Wesleys, the opposition to him began by exclu-
sion from the churches. One pulpit after another was denied
him of which there is a long list, till in May, 1739, he says, *'I
believe we are the first professed ministers of England that were
so soon, and without cause excluded every pulpit." ^ This, how-
ever, failed, for Whitefield took to the fields. Then harsher
methods were adopted.
In April, 1739, he visited a society at Oxford, at which some
students were present. He desired them to behave quietly, which
they did, but after the service they followed him to his inn, and
entered his room uninvited. He gave them another exhortation,
but some mocked.'^ Two days later, after he had exhorted the
society, the vice-chancellor of the university came to the house
where the people were, and calling for Whitefield, said to him,
''Have you, sir, ... a name in any book here?" **'Yes, sir,"
replied Whitefield, *'but I intend to take it out soon." "Yes,
and you had best take yourself out too," replied he, "or otherwise
I will lay you by the heels." ^ After some more words in which
he threatened Whitefield in case he should come there again, the
vice-chancellor went away.
The next month at Hitchen, Whitefield says : *T got upon
^NoTF. — David Hume is reported to have expressed the following opinion
concerning one of Whitefield's oratorical flights : "This address surpassed
anything I ever saw or heard in any other preacher." (Tyerman, Life of
George Whitefield, vol. ii, p. 211.)
■'Life of Countess of Huntingdon, vol. i, pp. 108, 210, 228; vol. ii, pp.
275ff. ; Gillies Memoirs, p. 175, note.
''George Whitefield, Journal, p. 187.
'Ibid., pp. i68ff.
GEORGE WHITEFIELD 53
a table in the market place, near the church; but some were
pleased to ring the bells in order to disturb us. Upon this, not
having begun, we removed to a most commodious place in the
fields." ^ Ringing the bells w^as repeated at Birmingham. He
says, "Some unkind men, though they promised not to do so,
rang the bells." ^^ However, Whitelield was not defeated in his
efforts to preach. ^^
At Tewkesbury he says, "I found the people much alarmed,
and as soon as I was got into the inn, four constables came to
attend me." A lawyer then demanded their warrant, which they
could not produce. He then sent them away.^^ At Ulverston he
says, ''A clergyman, who looked more like a butcher than a
minister, came with two others, and charged a constable with
me; but I never saw a poor creature sent off with such dis-
At Basingstoke Whitefield expounded in a large room. He
says, "The place was very much thronged, but some were very
noisy, and others threw up stones at the windows." ^^ And a
few months later, as he was preaching in London, "some unhappy
men came and pressed, and broke down the door." ^^ He was
^George Whitefield, Journal p. 190.
"George Whitefield, Works, vol. ii, p. 48.
^^NoTE — The following incident is said to be quoted from Benjamin
Franklin : "In the early part of his life, Mr. Whitefield was preaching in an
open field, when a drummer happened to be present, who was determined to
interrupt his pious business, and rudely beat his drum in a violent manner, in
order to drown the preacher's voice. Mr. W. spoke very loud, but was not as
powerful as the instrument; he therefore called out to the drummer in
these words : 'Friend, you and I serve the two greatest masters existing, but
in different callings — you beat up for volunteers for King George, and I for
the Lord Jesus: in God's name, then, let us not interrupt each other; the
world is wide enough for both, and we may get recruits in abundance.'
This speech had such an effect on the drummer, that he went away in good
humor, and left the preacher in full possession of the field." (Life of
Countess of Huntingdon, vol. ii, p. ^j^.)
"George Whitefield, Journal, p. 210.
^^George Whitefield, Works, vol. ii, pp. 36off.
"George Whitefield, Journal, p. 125.
^^Ibid., pp. I70ff.
54 EARLY METHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
back at Basingstoke ere long, and, being languid and weary, he
lay down upon the bed, but he was there only a short time before
the landlord notified him that he could not stay under his roof.
He says, 'T immediately rose and went to another inn; but the
people made a mock of both me and my friends as we passed
along, shot out their arrows, even bitter words, and fire-rockets
were thrown about the door." ^^ This was continued till it was
too late to preach. Later, however, he preached and received a
blow from an opponent. ^"^
Whitefield led the way to preaching in the Moor fields, a
sort of public amusement park.^^ At his second venture here
merrymakers found the number of their attendants sadly lessened.
He sa3^s, "You may easily guess that there was some noise among
the craftsmen, and that I was honored with having a few stones,
rotten eggs, and pieces of dead cats thrown at me." He had
preached at noon, and had given notice that he would preach
again at six in the evening. He says : *T came, I saw, but what
thousands and thousands, . . . more than before, if possible,
still more deeply engaged m their unhappy diversions ; but some
thousands among them waiting as earnestly to hear the gospel.
This Satan could not brook. One of his choicest servants vvas
exhibiting, trumpeting on a large stage ; but as soon as the people
saw me in my black robes and my pulpit, I think all to a man
left him and ran to me. . . . God's people kept praying, and the
enemy's agents made a kind of a roaring at some distance from
our camp. At length they approached nearer, and the merry-
andrew, atteixled by others, who complained that they had taken
many pounds less that day on account of my preaching, got upon
a man's shoulders, and advancing near the pulpit attempted to
slash me with a long heavy whip several times, but always with
the violence of his motion, tumbled down. Soon afterward they
"'George Whitefield, Journal, pp. 2i8ff.
'^George Whitefield, Works, vol. i, p. 54.
""Notp: — Whitefield says that the "Moorfields is a large spacious place,
given as I have been told, by one Madam Moore, on purpose for all sorts of
pc()])lc t(; divert themselves." (Works, vol. i, p. 384)
GEORGE WHITEFIELD 55
got a recruiting sergeant with his drum, etc., to pass through the
congregation. . . . Finding these efforts to fail, a large body
quite on the opposite side assembled together, and having got a
large pole for their standard, advanced toward us with steady
and formidable steps. . . . Just as they approached us with
looks full of resentment, I know not by what accident, they
quarreled among themselves, threw down their staff, and went
their way." ^^
A few days later, being invited by friends, he preached in
another amusement place similar to the Moorfields, the Maryle-
bone Fields. Here there seems to have been a vast assembly of
opposers. He says : ''Satan did not like thus to be attacked in his
strongholds, and I narrowly escaped with my life; for as I was
passing from the pulpit to my coach I felt my wig and hat to be
almost off. I turned about and observed a sword just touching
my temples. A young rake, as I afterwards found, was deter-
mined to stab me, but a gentleman, seeing the sword thrusting
near me, struck it up with his cane, so the destined victim provi-
dentially escaped." ^^ This enraged the multitude, which turned
upon the assailant, who narrowly escaped injury. ''The next
day," he says, "I renewed my attack in Moorfields." But here,
after finding that pelting, noise, and threatenings would not do,
one of the merry-andrews got into a tree and shamefully exposed
himself. Whitefield says, "I must own at first it gave me a
shock; I thought Satan had now almost outdone himself;
but recovering my spirits, I appealed to all, since now they had
such a spectacle before them, whether I had wronged human
nature in saying, after pious Bishop Hall, 'that man, when left
to himself, is half devil and half a beast.' " ^^
At Hampton, where there had been severe rioting, White-
field encountered the mob. He says they had threatened "that,
if ever I came there again, they would have a piece of my black
gown to make aprons with. No sooner had I entered the town
^^George Whitefield, Works, vol. i, p. 385.
^Ibid., vol. i, p. 187.
^'Ibid., vol. i, p. 188.
56 EARLY ^^lETHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
but I saw and heard the signals, such as blowing of horns, and
ringing of bells for gathering the mob. My soul was kept quite
easy. I preached in a large grass plat . . . and, as it happened,
I finished my sermon and pronounced the blessing just as the
ringleader of the mob broke in upon us, which I soon perceived
disappointed and grieved them very much. One of them, as I
was coming down from the table, called me coward; but I told
him they should hear from me another way. I went into the
house, and preached upon the staircase to a large number of
serious souls, but these real troublers of Israel soon came in to
mock and mob us. But feeling what I never felt before, . . .
I leaped downstairs, and all ran away before me. However, they
continued making a noise about the house till midnight, abusing
the poor people as they went home, and, as we hear, they broke
one young lady's arm in two places." ^^
At Plymouth in 1744 Whitefield suffered a very severe
attack. When he reached the place several broke into the room
where he lodged at the inn and disturbed him. He then sought
private lodgings. While here, he says, ''the good woman of
the house came and told me that a well-dressed gentleman de-
sired to speak with me. Imagining that it was some Nicodemite,
I desired he might be brought up. He came and sat down by
my bedside, told me he was a lieutenant of a man of war, con-
gratulated me on the success of my ministry, and expressed
himself much concerned for being detained from hearing me.
He then asked me, if I knew him. I answered, 'No.' He re-
plied his name was Cadogan. I rejoined that I had seen one Mr.
Cadogan, who was formerly an officer at Georgia, about a fort-
night ago at Bristol. Upon this he immediately rose up, uttering
the most abusive language, calling me dog, rogue, villain, etc.,
and beat me most unmercifully with his gold-headed cane. . . .
Being apprehensive that he intended to shoot or stab me, I
underwent all the fears of a sudden violent death. . . . My
hostess and her daughter, hearing me cry murder, rushed into
"George Whitefield, Works, vol. ii, pp. 35ff.
GEORGE WHITEFIELD 57
the room, and seized him by the collar. However, he immedi-
ately disengaged himself from them, and repeated his blows upon
me." The cry of murder having been repeated, the assailant
took fright and escaped.^^
It seems that an assault was planned to have been made
earlier in the evening, but the man who was to do the deed,
having been civilly treated by Whiteiield, had not the heart to
make the attack. Upon hearing this, the assailant made a wager
of ten guineas that he would do the deed.^^
During the pamphlet attacks upon the Methodists by Bishop
Lavington, Whiteiield boldly entered Exeter, his Episcopal resi-
dence, and preached, but not without some inconvenience. He
says : "I preached twice at Exeter, and in the evening I believe
I had near ten thousand hearers. The Bishop and several of his
clergy stood very near me, as I am informed. A good season
it was. All was quiet, and there was a great solemnity in the
congregation, but a drunken man threw at me three great stones.
One of them cut my head deeply, and was like to knock me off
the table; but ... I was not discomposed at all." ^^
Whitefield relates a couple of incidents concerning himself
as rather minor affairs. He preached twice at Totherham. He
says : "The crier was employed to give notice of a bear-baiting.
Your ladyship may guess who was the bear. About seven in
the morning the drum w^as heard, and several watermen attended
it with great staves. The constable was struck, and two of the
mobbers were apprehended, but rescued afterward." ^^ When
it had become quiet Whitefield left the town. A second disturb-
ance was at Wrexham. He says : *'Upon my coming that town
was alarmed, and several thousand came to hear. Several of
the baser sort made a great noise, and threw stones, but none
touched me." ^'^ Another was at Nantwich, "where a Methodist
"George Whitefield, Works, vol. ii, p. 59, Letter No. 551.
-*Ibid., vol. ii, p. 61, Letter No. 552.
"Ibid., vol. ii, p. 287, Letter No. 775-
"Ibid., vol. ii, p. 354, Letter No. 840.
^'Ibid., vol. iii, pp. 34ff., Letter No. 997.
58 EARLY METHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
meetinghouse hath lately been pulled down. Here Satan roared.
The mob pelted Mr. D and others much, but I got off pretty
In London Whitefield had a preaching place called Long-
acre Chapel. His presence here occasioned much resentment.^^
The Bishop of B sent to him prohibiting his preaching at
this place.^^ This began a rather lengthy correspondence. The
Bishop seems to have shielded himself with threats, under the
privileges of a peer to deter Whitefield from publishing his
letters. ^^ However, from Whitefield's correspondence it seems
that, when he preached, there was a great disturbance in the
house or yard of one Mr. Cope, which was adjacent to the chapel.
Whitefield says it was more than noise, "It deserves no milder
name than premeditated rioting. Drummers, soldiers, and many
of the baser sort have been hired by subscription. A copper-
furnace, bells, drums, clappers, marrow-bones, and cleavers, and
such like instruments of reformation have been provided for and
made use of by them repeatedly from the moment I have begun
preaching to the end of my sermon. By these horrid noises many
women have been almost frightened to death, and mobbers en-
couraged thereby to come and riot at the chapel door during the
time of divine service, and then insult and abuse me and the
congregation after it hath been over. Not content with this, the
chapel windows, while I have been preaching, have repeatedly
been broken by large stones of almost a pound weight, some now
lying by me, which though leveled at, providentially missed me,
but at the same time sadly wounded some of my hearers." ^^
It was understood by Whitefield that Mr. Cope in whose premises
this disturbance was made, was the Bishop's overseer,^^ and that
^^George Whitefield, Works.
^"Gillies, Memoirs of George Whitefield, pp. 2i5ff.
Note — This was in the neighborhood of the playhouses. (Gillies, Memoirs
of George Whitefield, pp. 2i5ff.)
"'George Whitefield, Works, vol. iii, pp. 257ff., Letters No. 1119-1124.
^'Ibid., Letter No. 1124.
'^Ibid., vol. iii, p. 168, Letter No. 1124.
GEORGE WHITEFIELD 59
some of the disturbers belonged to the Bishop's vestry.^* Mr.
Whitefield threatened to apply to the courts for justice unless the
disturbances ceased. Shortly after this he received three anony-
mous letters, ^'threatening a certain, sudden and unavoidable
stroke unless I desist from preaching, and pursuing the offenders
by law." ^^ Thereupon he appealed to the government, and the
King promised a pardon to any that would reveal the writers of
the letters. ^^ He does not tell how the matter finally ended.
However, notwithstanding the threatenings, he continued to
preach, and was inclined to think that it was best to accept the
advice of his friends to bring the rioters to the King's Bench
Perhaps Whitefield's most serious encounter with the mob
was in Ireland. Of this incident the Gentleman's Magazine says
that he barely escaped with his life.^^ He had preached on
Sunday afternoon at Oxminton-Green, a large place like the
Moorfields, to a vast multitude. There was not much molesta-
tion, he says: "Only now and then a few stones and clods of
dirt were thrown at me. It being war time, . . . after sermon
I prayed for success to the Prussian arms. All being over, I
thought to return home the way I came, but, to my great sur-
prise, access was denied, so that I had to go near half a mile
from one end of the green to the other, through hundreds and
hundreds of papists, etc. Finding me unattended, for a soldier
and four Methodist preachers, who came with me, had forsook
me and fled, I was left to their mercy. . . . Volleys of hard
stones came from all quarters, and every step I took a fresh
stone struck, and made me reel backward and forward till I was
almost breathless, and all over a gore of blood. My strong
beaver hat served me as it were for a scull cap for a while ; but at
last that was knocked off, and my head left quite defenseless. I
^*George Whitefield, Works, Letter No. 1120.
''Ibid., Letter No. 1133.
^''Ibid., Letter No. 1134 ; Tyerman, Life of George Whitefield, vol. ii, p. 367.
^^Gentleman's Magazine, 1757, p. 334.
6o EARLY ^lETHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
received many blows and wounds ; one was particularly large and
near my temples. ... A minister's house lay next to the green ;
with great difficulty I staggered to the door, which was kindly
opened to, and shut upon me. . . . For a while I continued
speechless, panting for and expecting every breath to be my last ;
two or three of the hearers, my friends, by some means or other
got admission, and kindly with weeping e3^es washed my bloody
wounds, and gave me something to smell, and to drink. I gradu-
ally revived." The lady of the house now wished Whitefield to be
gone, for she feared the house would be pulled down. He there-
fore went out, was taken into a coach, which friends had just
brought, and escaped. A surgeon dressed his wounds, after
which he went to the preaching place and joined with the society
in thanksgiving for his deliverance.^^
Thus he toiled, suffering almost daily reproach,*^ and some-
times, as has been shown, extreme violence. By his arduous
labors he wore himself out and filled rather an early grave, dying
in 1770. His body does not rest in the vault which he had pre-
pared at Tottenham Court Chapel, and as he intended, but in
America,^^ which he visited seven times, and where he died.
^George Whitefield, Works, vol. iii, p. 207, Letter No. 1170.
'Ibid., Letter No. 11 19.
'Tyerman, Life of George Whitefield, vol. ii, p. 37^.
THE LAY PREACHERS AND THE PERSECUTORS
Naturally, the violence, as well as the antipathy of the
mobs, was directed most severely against the preachers of this
hated doctrine. Very often they were the chief objects of attack,
and frequently they preached with the blood running down their
faces, caused by the missiles and blows which they had received.^
Many of them suffered intensely; some were injured for hfe;
a few died from their wounds, w^hile all endured the general
At the beginning of his career, in 1735, Howell Harris was
not in any way identified with the Methodists.^ Indeed, his
work began before Methodism was known throughout the land,
yet, later the name came to be applied to him.^ His field of
action was chiefly Wales. In 1736, at the request of many
friends, he opened a school at Trevecka. This w^as broken up in
1737, and because of persecution was never re-established. INIore-
over, his pupils were turned out of the parish church.*
At Pont-y-Pool, in 1739, Mr. Harris was arrested, but re-
leased on bail. He went to the court in August, but as many of
his friends had appeared for him, the magistrates, upon con-
sultation, thought it best that the case be dropped. By this time,
however, he had become intimate with the Methodists. \\^hite-
field met him in March of this year, and notes that "many ale-
house people, fiddlers, harpers, etc. (Demetrius like), sadly cry
^Arminian Magazine, 1780, p. 511.
'Association of Aberystwyth and Bala, History of Calvinistic Methodism
in Wales, pp. 3ff.
^NoTE — Mr. Harris must have known of the Methodists, and of their
customs, as he had been at Oxford for a short time in 1735.
^John Bulmer, Memoirs of the Life of Howell Harris, pp. loff.
62 EARLY METHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
out against him for spoiling their business. He has been made
the subject of numbers of sermons, has been threatened with
pubHc prosecution, and had constables sent to apprehend him.
But God has blessed him with inflexible courage, and he still con-
tinues to go on from conquering to conquer." ^
At Cowbridge, in 1740, Mr. Harris met with Mr. William
Seward, 'Svith whom he traveled and preached in the towns of
Newport, Caerleon, Usk, and Monmouth." At Newport the
mob rushed upon them with the utmost fury. They tore the
sleeves of his coat — one of them off — and pelted him with
apples, dirt, and stones. At Caerleon the mob pelted him with
dung and dirt, and threw eggs, plum-stones, and other hard
substances in his face. Mr. Seward received a blow on the right
eye which destroyed its sight. For a few days this affected the
other eye, so that he had to be led about by the hand. At Mon-
mouth they both were pelted with apples, pears, stones, and a
The honor of being the proto-martyr fell to Mr. Seward.
After suffering such bitter persecution in so many places, as
just mentioned, at last, at Hay he received a blow on the head
from the effect of which in a few days he died October 22, 1740.
His untimely death was a severe shock, and a cause of profound
sadness to his fellow evangelists."^
This year also brought another arrest. In Radnorshire Mr.
Harris was apprehended by two justices, and released on bail.
This case also was dismissed.^
The next year he met a mob at Bala in Merionethshire,
which threatened him with death. He was pelted with dirt and
stones and struck in the face by a man's fist. He finally fell
under their feet, whereupon he was beaten till one of the mob,
■'George Whitefield, Journal, March 7, 1739.
"J. Bulmer, Memoirs of Howell Harris, pp. 23ff.
'Tyerman, Life of George Whitefield, vol. i, p. 167; G. Holden Pike,
John Wesley and His Mission, p. 77; John Wesley, Journal, October 27, 1740;
Charles Wesley, Journal, October 28, 1740.
"J. Bulmer, Memoirs of Howell Harris, pp. 25ff.
LAY PREACHERS AND PERSECUTORS 63
either from pity or fear of being prosecuted for killing him,
rescued him. At Penmorfa and at Llanbrynmair his Hfe was
In 1742 Mr. Harris started to London in company with Mr.
Cennick. At Swindon the mob assaulted them with horns, guns,
and a fire engine. One presented a gun to Mr. Harris's fore-
head ; another struck him on the mouth, bringing blood, yet they
were not dismayed. ^^
A little later in his career he says that "the gentlemen in
part of Brecknockshire and Carmarthenshire hunt us like part-
ridges, but still the work prospers." ^^ He also gives the fol-
lowing account of his work in Wales : "Are you surprised at
my silence? Could you but take a turn with me for two or
three months and see my labors and trials, your surprise would
cease. However, I will inform you that it is now about nine
weeks since I began to go round South and North Wales, and
this week return home. I have visited in all that time thirteen
counties, traveled about one hundred and fifty miles every week,
and discoursed twice a day, occasionally three or four times. In
this last journey I have not taken off my clothes for seven nights
together, being obliged to meet the people and discourse at mid-
night, or very early in the morning to avoid persecution. . . .
Near the town of Bala, where I was formerly like to be mur-
dered, I had a severe blow on my head," ^^ etc. In 1747 he
began a ten days' trip through North Wales in which he thought
his life in constant danger, expecting either imprisonment or
Thomas Lewis was mobbed at Cainson, in Somersetshire.
He was pelted with clods, stones, old shoes, and balls of clay,
while one was ringing a bell, others cursing and swearing, or
hallooing and firing off guns. He received a blow on the breast
'John Bulmer, Memoirs of Howell Harris, pp. 25ff.
^°Ibid., pp. 38ff.
"Life and Times of Countess of Huntingdon, vol. i, pp. lopff.
"Christian History, p. 99, Tyerman Collection of Pamphlets, vol. xli.
64 EARLY jMETHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
that pained him much; one of his arms was benumbed, and a
severe blow on the side of the face caused extended swelHng,
and nearly disabled him.^^
At Cleethorpes Mr. Capiter was tarred and rolled in feathers,
and several times put in the stocks for preaching. On one occa-
sion a hive of bees was thrown among his hearers. ^^
Morgan Hughes was imprisoned in Wales for exhorting. ^^
At Salisbury Plain, as soon as the preacher, John Furz, began
to speak, a man w^ent forward and presented a gun to his face,
and swore that, if he spoke another word, he would blow his
brains out. The preacher continued speaking, and the man con-
tinued swearing, sometimes placing the muzzle of the gun to
the preacher's mouth, or to his ear. He finally fired the gun
behind him, and burned off part of his hair. For this, however,
the persecutor was so roughly handled by the mob that he kept
his bed for several weeks. ^'^
Early in 1745 Mr. Thomas Adams went to Exeter, where
he preached a number of times. Opposition began, but at first
was unsuccessful.^^ The rioters tried to turn the fire engine
upon the congregation, but could not bring the water to reach
them. At last one of their ov\m number turned the water upon
the persecutors, many of whom received an unexpected bath.
Another man knocked down the engineer by a blow on the head.
However, the opposition was not thus easily quieted. After
preaching one morning two constables took Mr. Adams to prison,
where he was kept for about five hours. That afternoon the
Methodists were attacked by a mob, who beat and insulted men
and women. In his efforts to protect the women one man was
so bruised that he was obliged to keep his bed for some time.
Mr. Adams was pelted through the street, smeared all over with
mud and dirt, and with all the ''nastiness that the kennel
'^The Christian History, vol. vii. pp. 33^^-
''George Lester, Grimsley Methodism, p. 49.
'"Christian History, vol. vii, No. 3, pp. 66ff.
'^Life of J. Furz, by himself, Jackson's Lives, vol. v, pp. I25ff.
'"The Christian History, vol. vii. No. 3, pp. 52ff.
LAY PREACHERS AND PERSECUTORS 65
afforded." The next night he was called before the mayor and
insulted. As he left the mayor's house the mob again attacked
and followed him. When he escaped them he was nearly ready
to fall from bruises and exhaustion. ^^
The case of John Nelson presents another instance of the
same nature. He was an early convert and became a powerful
assistant to Wesley. His courage was undaunted, and his char-
acter inflexible, as will be seen from the following incidents :
The first time he stood in the street to preach he was struck
on the head with an egg and two potatoes, but he says ''that
neither hindered me from speaking, nor them from hearing."
Shortly after this he appealed to the consciences of his hearers,
that he had not spoken his own words, but the words of the Lord,
and a gentleman replied, ''We allow all you say is true, yet you
deserve to be set in the stocks for delivering it in the street." ^^
At Grimsby he was forced to prove the mettle of which he
was made. The minister went through the town ahead of a
drummer and "gathered all the rabble he could," and gave them
liquor to go with him "to fight for the church." After Mr.
Nelson had finished preaching this rabble broke every window in
the house, and abused the people as they went out. But soon
some of the persecutors began to fight their fellow^s for abusing
the women, during which most of the people escaped. ^^
At Nottingham a few had prepared squibs which they in-
tended to throw in his face, but three of them were burned with
the fire that they had intended for him, so went away.^^ At
Bristol, while he was speaking a man came up behind him and
filled his mouth with dirt, which nearly caused him to choke.
However, he cleared his mouth and continued to speak.^^
He sa3'S : "When I left Bristol I met with many sufferings,
At almost every place where I came to preach mobs were raised.
^*The Christian History, vol. vii, No. 3, pp. 26ff.
^*John Nelson, Journal, p. 80.
'^Ibid., p. 92.
^Ibid., p. 163.
''•Ibid., p. 164.
66 EARLY METHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
as if they were determined to kill me, and all God's children, in
a kind of thanksgiving because the rebels were conquered."
At Nottingham, about April, 1746, he was arrested and taken
before an alderman, who said to him, "I wonder you can't stay
in 3^our own places; you might be convinced by this time that
the mob of Nottingham will never let you preach quietly in this
town." Mr. Nelson replied: "1 beg pardon, sir. I did not know
before now that this town was governed by a mob; for most
towns are governed by magistrates." However, after some con-
versation, the alderman ordered the constable, who brought him,
to go with him and take him back to the place from which he
had been taken. ^^ At Kirk-Heaton he learned that nearly the
whole town had agreed that as soon as the next ''Methodist dog"
came, all the journeymen and apprentices should leave work,
"put a halter about his neck and drag him into the river and
drown him, that the town might be quit of them forever." The
parson's son was the captain of the mob. They were thwarted
in their purpose by a constable, who came along and delivered
him from them.^^
But his greatest suffering from the mob was in the neighbor-
hood of Hep worth-moor, Easter Sunday, 1747. He had preached
there on the previous Friday, and attempted to preach again on
Sunday. But the mob came, stood still for a time, till a gentle-
man, so called, cried out, *'Knock out the brains of that mad
dog." An immediate shower of stones drove his audience from
him. As he got down and was leaving the place he was struck
on the back of the head with a piece of a brick, which knocked
him flat on his face, and senseless. Two men lifted him up and
led him away between them, but for some time he could not
stand alone. The blood ran down his back into his shoes. The
mob followed him, threatening to kill him when they got him out
of the town. A gentleman saw him, and took him into his
house and sent for a surgeon, who dressed his wound. The mob
"John Nelson, Journal, pp. i66ff.
"Ibid., p. 181 ff.
LAY PREACHERS AND PERSECUTORS 67
surrounded the house, but the gentleman threatened them, so they
He lay down for a while, then a Mr. Slaton brought him his
horse. He rode to Ackham, where he was to have preached at
five in the afternoon. But just at that time * 'there came about
ten young gentlemen, some in the coach, some on the box, and
behind the coach, who began to sing the songs of the drunkards,
and to throw rotten eggs at the women."
He was in a field near the house when a man, hired for the
purpose, threw him down, and leaped upon his abdomen several
times with his knees, till he had beaten the breath out of him,
and set his head to bleeding again. The brutal persecutor de-
clared that he had killed the preacher, then taking another Meth-
odist, he threw him against the corner of a wall and broke two
of his ribs.^^
About twenty went to Mr. Nelson to see whether he was
dead, but his breath had come again, he had turned on his face,
and lay bleeding upon the ground. They lifted him up, and said
that they would help him to the house. As soon as he could
speak he said : "Your mercy is only to make way for more
cruelty. Gentlemen, if I have done any thing contrary to the
law, let me be punished by the law. I am a subject to King
George, and to his law I appeal ; and I am willing to go before my
Lord Mayor, as he is the King's magistrate." But they cursed
him and the King too, and said that the King was as bad as the
Methodists, or he would have hanged them all like dogs before
then. One cursed the King, and said that if he were there, they
would treat him as they had served the preacher.^^
When he got into the street he was knocked down eight
times. And as he lay on the ground, not able to get up, they
dragged him by the hair of his head upon the stones for nearly
twenty yards, kicking him on the sides and thighs as they went
^7ohn Nelson, Journal, pp. i84ff; also John Wesley, Journal, April 20,
6S EARLY :\IETHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
along. Then six of them stood on his body and thighs in order
to ''tread the Holy Ghost out of him." After a time some
friends got him into the house. The mob set out for the city
singing debauched songs. Mr. Nelson heard one of them say,
"It is impossible for him to live." ^^ But he did live, and labored
on till his death in July, 1774. His remains were carried through
the streets of Leeds, attended by thousands, who were "either
weeping or singing." ^^
Christopher Hopper was another of Wesley's early assist-
ants. He says : 'T met with great persecution, many discourage-
ments, and much opposition in every place." Men of all ranks
used their power and influence to stop this work of God. "They
dispensed with two or three awakened clergymen tolerably well.
These were regularly ordained men of learning, gentlemen and
divines. But to see a plowman or an honest mechanic stand up
to preach the gospel, it was insufferable." "Laymen and ecclesi-
asts joined heart and hand to suppress these pestilent fellows, not
with acts of kindness, scripture, or reason, but by invectives and
lies, dirt, rotten eggs, brickbats, stones, and cudgels." "It was
the common cry in town and country, Tress them for soldiers;
send them on board a man of war; transport them; beat them;
stone them; send them to prison, or knock their brains out, and
dispatch them at once, for there is no law for them.' " ^^
The rector at Ryton and his curate tried to stop him. They
gave him first hard words, then hard blows, but without avail.
He was summoned before the Spiritual Court at Durham to
answer for his conduct, but friends were raised up for him.^^
At another time he was traveling with Wesley, who had
preached in a field at Durham in the morning, and Mr. Hopper
preached in the same field in the evening. "A gentleman, so
called, employed a base man to strip himself naked and swim
"'John Nelson, Journal pp. i84ff.
-''Methodist Magazine, 1788, pp. 573^-
*"Memoirs of Christopher Hopper, pp. isfif., Osborn Collection of
"'Ihifl., p. 19.
LAY PREACHERS AND PERSECUTORS 6g
through the river to disturb the hearers ; but a good woman soon
hissed him off the stage, so he was glad to return by the way he
came with much disgrace." ^^
Wesley tells us that the first who preached at Colne was
John Jane, who was innocently riding through the town, when
*'the jealous mob pulled him off his horse and put him in the
stocks. He seized the opportunity, and vehemently exhorted
them to flee from the wrath to come." ^^
Thomas Mitchell says that ''one evening while William
Darney was preaching at Yeadon in the parish of Guiseley the
curate of Guiseley came at the head of a large mob, who threw
eggs in his face, pulled him down, dragged him out of the house
on the ground, and stamped upon him." ^*
Some time after Mr. Barney's sufferings, Mr. Jonathan
Maskew followed him at Yeadon. The same mob pulled him
down and dragged him out of the house. "They then tore off
his clothes, and dragged him along upon his naked back over the
gravel and pavement. When they thought they had sufficiently
bruised him they let him go." *'With much difficulty he crept
to a friend's house, where they dressed his wounds and got him
some clothes." ^^
It was Mr. Thomas Mitchell's turn to go next. His friends
advised him not to preach, and undertook to take him out of the
town, but the mob followed him, and stoned him for nearly two
miles. It took him several weeks to recover from his bruises.
On Sunday, August 7, 1751, Mr. Mitchell preached at
Rangdale at five in the morning. About six o'clock two con-
stables went at the head of the mob, seized the preacher and
took him to a public house, where they kept him till four in the
afternoon. At this time the constable took him out to the mob,
who hurried him away to a pool of standing water and threw
^^Memoirs of Christopher Hopper, p. 33, Osborn Collection of Pamphlets.
^John Wesley, Journal, April 30, 1776.
**Thomas Mitchell, Short Account of Himself, p. 8, Osborn Collection,
'^Ibid., p. 8, Osborn Collection, vol. xii; also Life of J. Maskew, Jack-
son's Lives, vol. iv, p. 209.
70 EARLY :METH0DISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
him in. The water was up to his neck, but they compelled him
to cross it seven times before they would allow him to come out.
Then one stood ready with a pot of white paint, with which he
covered him from head to foot. They then took him back to
the public house for a time, after which they took him to another
pond ten or twelve feet deep, and railed in all around. Here
four men took him by his legs and arms, swung him back and
forth several times and threw him into the pond. The fall and
the shock left him senseless, so that he felt nothing more. Some
of them, however, were not willing to let him drown, so, watch-
ing till he rose to the surface, they caught his clothes with a
long pole, and dragged him out. After some time he regained
consciousness, and saw two men standing by him, one of whom
helped him up, and took him to a house where he w^as put to bed.
But it was not long before the mob returned, pulled him out of
bed, and carried him into the street, swearing that they would
take away one of his limbs unless he would promise not to go
there any more. He replied, '*I can promise no such thing."
But the man that had hold of him promised for him, and took
him back into the house, and put him to bed again. The minister
told the mob that they must take him out of the parish, so they
went and pulled him out of bed a second time. His clothes were
wet and covered with paint, so they put an old coat about him,
took him about a mile and left him on a little hill. No one dared
to help him because of the mob. He remembered some friends
three or four miles away, and though he was scarcely able to
stand, yet in time he reached this refuge. He says : 'T rested
four days with them, in which time my strength was tolerably
restored. Then I went into the circuit, where I met with more
persecution.'' In one of these later persecutions the mob took
him by the heels and dragged him on his back for about half
Mr. John Haime joined the army in 1739. He became a
Methodist, and began to preach in 1744. He was ridiculed by
"'Thomas Mitchell, Short Account of Himself, p. 12, Osborn Collection,
vol. xii; also Methodist Magazine, 1802, p. 463.
LAY PREACHERS AND PERSECUTORS 71
the men, but with the exception of General Sinclaire, all the
commanders protected him, consequently, as a soldier, he suffered
no violence. After receiving his discharge from the army he
continued to preach, and now received his share of hardship. In
1748 he was arrested, and two men swore falsely that he had
made a riot. The town clerk told him that they would not send
him to jail, if he would work a miracle. He replied that miracles
were wrought already in that many swearers and drunkards had
become sober and God-fearing men. He was then told that, if
he would cease to preach, he would not be imprisoned. This he
refused to do, and was confined for eight days, till the court
convened. Help having now come from a wealthy man in Lon-
don, the ofiicers thought it best to drop the case, so let him go.^^
In 1 75 1 Thomas Lee was mobbed at Pately-Bridge, and
pelted with mud, stones, and blows till he staggered to and fro.
A heavy blow on the head with a stone caused him considerable
trouble. ^^ The next year he says, "persecution raged on every
side," and was chiefly directed against himself. One day as he
w^as passing through Pately the captain of the mob, "who was
kept in constant pay," pursued him, and pulled him off his horse.
The mob then collected, dragged him by the hair of his head,
then pushed him back with one or two upon him, and threw^ him
with the small of the back against the stone stairs, which injured
his back so that it was not well for many years afterward. They
then dragged him to the common sewer, which carried the dirt
from the town, and rolled him in it for some time. After this
they dragged him to the bridge and threw^ him into the water.
They then disputed whether to leave him, or make an end of him.
However, their attention having been attracted in another direc-
tion, they left him lying upon the ground. His wife went to
him, and finally succeeded in getting him on his horse, and out
^'A Short Account of John Haime, by himself, Tyerman Collection of
Pamphlets, vol. cclxx; also in Jackson's Lives.
^^Experiences of Methodist Preachers (Wills Register, p. 95), Tyerman
Collection of Pamphlets, vol. xiv.
^2 EARLY iMETHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
of the town. During this entire summer, autumn, and winter,
he says, "were times of hot persecution." ^^
In 1760 he was stationed at Epworth. A favorite method
with the mob was to fill egg shells with blood, and seal them
with pitch, and throw them at the preacher. The shells, of course,
would break, and the blood stream down his clothes. The Ep-
worth mob treated Mr. Lee with this sort of an attack. He says
these blood-filled eggs ''made strange work wherever they
lighted." After this abuse, he was summoned before the mayor,
and then left to the mob, w^ho pelted him with mud, clods, and
stones, and beat him till, again, he was barely able to stand, and
covered him with paint. They had offered to let him go, if he
would promise never to come there again, but this he "could not
do," for both his rights as an Englishman and his duty as a
Christian forbade such a promise.^ ^
In his journeys in 1754 Mr. Thomas Hanby went to the
home of a Mr. Thomas Thompson, who kept the tollgate about
a half mile from Ashburn. He remained here a few days and
preached morning and evening to as many as the house would
hold. About two weeks later he returned, but this time found
that he could not preach any more in the tollgate house, for the
commissioners of the road had forbidden Mr. Thompson to
admit him. A gentleman farmer, however, allowed him to preach
in his house. Here a mob assembled, and attacked the house
with the purpose of assaulting the preacher. He escaped them,
having been defended by friends, whom he afterward saw bleed-
ing among the mob.*^
During the same year he stopped at one of the principal inns
at Leek, and ordered dinner. But before it was ready a mob
collected about the inn. The landlord went to Mr. Hanby in
much excitement, and entreated him to leave the place imme-
diately, lest his house should be pulled down, and Mr. Hanby
■""'Experiences of Methodist Preachers (Wills Register, pp. 96ff.), Tyer-
man Collection of Pamphlets, vol. xiv.
^'Experiences of Methodist Preachers, p. 'JT, Tyerman Collection of
Pamphlets, vol. xiv.
LAY PREACHERS AND PERSECUTORS 73
murdered. Consequently, he mounted his horse in the yard and
rode through the mob, who pelted him with a shower of dirt
and stones, while they cried, "Kill him ! Kill him ! " ^^
After some time he went again to Leek, stayed ten days,
and received twenty-four into the society. This time a lawyer
raised a mob, which attacked the house where he lodged. They
broke into the house, and soon would have had their victim, but
a neighboring woman opened a window in her house, where he
hid till two o'clock in the morning, then made his escape out of
the town over the mountains. The mob, being disappointed at
losing their victim, the next day burned him in effigy.*^
From this time there was no more preaching at Leek till
the leading men of the mob had died or had joined the army.
At Burton-upon-Trent he had preached in a large house
belonging to a shoemaker, and had gone a second time to preach,
when a mob assembled, which, as Mr. Hanby afterward learned,
had been hired and made drunk for the occasion by the leading
persons of the town. They began by breaking the shutters and
windows of the house. The head of this mob was a forgeman,
"half an idiot," who had bound himself under an oath that he
"would have the preacher's liver." He brought the pipe of a large
bellows, with which he made a frightful noise, and Mr. Hanby
says, "which was to be the instrument of my death." He made
what way he could toward the preacher, being retarded by the
crowd. The preacher observed him appearing "with the fury of a
fiend." Consequently, he withdrew to an upper chamber, then to a
shoemaker's shop. The mob searched the chamber, and finally the
shop, where they found him. They hurried him into the house ;
a man, who had been made drunk for the occasion, approached
him, but suddenly changed his purpose, and instead of abusing
him, defended him. As the mob did not know his purpose, he
led the preacher through it, till he got him to the edge of the
crowd, when he told him to run. Now began a foot race in
^^Experiences of Methodist Preachers, p. 79, Tyerman Collection of
Pamphlets, vol. xiv.
"Ibid., p. 82.
74 EARLY IMETHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
earnest. His deliverer kept behind him, to keep off the mob, and
he being one of the best pugiHsts of the town no one dared to
attack him, so that the preacher escaped. ^^
In conchiding this account IMr. Hanby says: "In weariness
and pain fulness, in hunger and thirst, in joy and sorrow, in
weakness and in trembling, were my days now spent. ... I was
surrounded with death, and could seldom expect to survive an-
other day because of the fury of the people. And yet, it was
Svoe unto thee, if thou preach not the gospel.' "^^
Peter Jaco gives his experiences in a few words as follows :
"At Warrington I was struck so violently with a brick on the
breast that the blood gushed out through my mouth, nose, and
ears. At Grampound I was pressed for a soldier, kept under a
strong guard for several days without meat or drink, but what I
was obliged to procure at a large expense; and threatened to
have my feet tied under the horse's belly, while I was carried
eight miles before the commissioners, and though I was honor-
ably acquitted by them, yet it cost me a pretty large sum of
money as v/ell as much trouble." ^^
At one time John Leech was preaching in the open at a
workhouse, when a gentleman, so called, rode up and asked him,
"Who ordered you to come here?" Mr. Leech replied, "The
governor of the workhouse." The gentleman then said that he
paid the most money for the support of the house, "and you
shall not preach here." He then struck him several times on the
head with his cane and rode away. Mr. Leech then finished
his sermon. ^"^
In 1757 Alexander Mather had a hard experience with the
mob. He had previously preached in a field at Boston, Lincoln-
shire, with comparative quietness. At his next visit he attempted
^^Experiences of Methodist Preachers, pp. 79-80, Tyerman Collection of
Pamphlets, vol. xiv ; also John Pawson, Sermon on Death of J. Hanby,
Osborn Collection, vol. vi, class 20.
"'Experiences of Methodist Preachers, p. 82, Tyerman Collection of
Pamphlets, vol. xiv.
""Jackson's Lives, vol. i, p. 264.
"'Methodist Magazine, 1812, p. 164.
LAY PREACHERS AND PERSECUTORS 75
to preach in the market place, but the mob prevented. They
dispersed the congregation with noise and missiles. The preacher
and friends started to leave the place, but no sooner had they
turned their back than a hail of stones and dirt flew about them
on every side. After walking some distance they thought it best
to face the mob and, if possible, get back to their horses. In
this effort Mr. Mather became separated from his friends, was
tripped up, received a violent fall and many blows. He recovered
his breath, but was tripped up again, followed, and plastered
with dirt. A gentleman prevented them from throwing him into
a pond, which he passed, but as soon as he reached the street,
some got the dirt out of the kennels and threw it in his face.
As he proceeded farther, he received a blow from a stone on the
temple. Shortly after this he reached the inn, into which the
mob did not follow. He was bruised almost from head to foot.
His friends washed his wounds, and when he became cold he
was so stiff that he could hardly stir. He says, 'Tt was a full
year before I quite recovered from the hurts, which I then
In 1763 a preaching house was built at Wolverhampton,
but shortly afterward was demolished by the mob. Rioting
had reigned for so long that it was difficult for a Methodist
to pass through the streets. The mob had broken the windows of
the homes, and threatened to destroy every preaching house near
them. General excitement and fear prevailed. They were to
begin at Darlaston, but at this place a butcher with his cleaver
frightened them away. Also sentiment here against such out-
rages had become sufficiently strong to discourage them. How-
ever, at Wolverhampton there still was trouble enough. ^^
A warrant was taken out against the rioters, but the justices
acquitted them all. "This gave them fresh spirits, so they hasted
home with ribbons flying, and were saluted with bells and bon-
fires," in one of which revels they burned the preacher in effig}-.
^Arminian Magazine, 1780, pp. I49ff.
"Ibid., pp. I57ff.
^6 EARLY METHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
The Methodists now found it still more dangerous to enter the
town, or even to get to their own homes. ^^
At this juncture Mr. Mather waited upon Lord D with
a Mr. Hayes, an attorney, who had been the leader of the mob
that destroyed the preaching-house, and who himself had made
the first break in the house. At that time this was a capital
crime, punishable by death. Mr. Hayes was plainly told that
either he must rebuild the house, or be tried for his life. He
rebuilt the house. This was a very effective lesson to the other
rioters, who, from henceforth, were quiet.^^
John Pawson seems fortunately to have escaped without
much bodily injury. In Beverly, where the magistrate refused
to punish the rioters, disturbances were frequent, which made
preaching difficult or impossible. Complaint was made against
three young men who had been guilty of much disturbance, but
instead of punishing these the mayor and alderman, before whom
they were brought, threatened to indict Mr. Pawson for perjury
and to send him to York castle. But when he convinced them
that he had not made an}^ oath at all, they grew calmer, and
allowed him to withdraw. ^^
In 1764 he was removed to Norwich, where, he says, "during
the winter, we had almost continual mobbing. The rioters fre-
quently broke the windows, interrupted us in preaching, and
abused the people when service was ended.'' ^^ They complained
to the mayor, who would not punish the disturbers, which en-
couraged them, and led them to commit greater outrages. Mr.
Pawson says, "None of them [the magistrates] would go a step
farther than they were obliged for fear of being persecuted
The following is quoted from the Gentleman's Magazine:
"A terrible riot happened at Kingston in Surrey, occasioned by
"'Arminian Magazine, 1780, pp. I49ff.
"Ibid., 1779, p. ZT-
"Ibid., 1779, P- 38.
"Jackson's Lives, vol. iv, p. 29.
LAY PREACHERS AND PERSECUTORS ^J
a Methodist preacher, who came there and brought a great
number of people together in a barn to hear him. While he
was preaching a fellow threw some dirt at him, which made a
great disturbance, and the mob at last dragged the preacher into
the street and rolled him in a ditch ; and had it not been for the
humanity of a gentleman near the spot, who took him into his
house, he, in all likelihood, would have been murdered. Some
of the Enniskillen dragoons being among the mob, with their
swords, wounded several of the people, and put the whole town
in alarm. But by the prudent behavior of their commanding
officer, all ill consequence was prevented. He ordered the drums
to beat, assembled the dragoons in the Sun Inn yard, and kept
them together there for some time, and then ordered them to their
quarters, and to behave peaceably." ^^
John Fletcher, of Madeley, scholar, preacher, and saint,
rector in the Church of England, but also one who believed the
Methodist doctrines, and preached them, was compelled, like all
other Methodists, to suffer reproach. In a letter to Charles
Wesley, in 1762, he relates the following: "The opposition made
to my ministry increases. A young clergyman, who lives in
Madeley Wood, where he has great influence, has openly declared
war against me by pasting on the church door a paper in which
he charges me with rebellion, schism, and being a disturber of
the public peace. He puts himself at the head of the gentlemen
of the parish, as they term themselves, and supported by the
rector of Wenlock, he is determined to put in force the Con-
venticle Act against me. A few weeks ago a widow, who lives
in the church, and a young man, who read and prayed in my
absence, w^ere taken up. I attended them before the magistrate,
and the young clergyman, with his troop, were present. They
called me Jesuit, etc. ; and the magistrate tried to frighten me by
saying that he would put the Act in force, though we should
assemble only in my own house. I pleaded my cause as well as
I could ; but seeing he was determined to hear no reason, I told
'^Gentleman's Magazine, March 14, 1760; also Tyerman, Life of George
Whitefield, vol. ii, p. 425.
78 EARLY METHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
him he must do as he pleased, and that, if the Act in question
concerned us, we were ready to suffer all its rigors." ^^
The Rev. Robert Cox, M.A., says that the publicans and the
colliers were Mr. Fletcher's special enemies : the publicans because
he preached against drunkenness, which cut their purses, and the
colliers because he preached against their brutal sport of bull-
baiting. "The rage of the publicans generally spent itself in
impotent revilings, but the fury of the colliers was near being
attended with more serious consequences. One day, while a
mob of them in a state of intoxication was baiting a bull near
a place where he was expected to preach, they determined to
pull him off his horse, set the dogs upon him, and in their own
phrase, 'bait the parson.' " This intended cruelty, fortunately,
was thwarted by Mr. Fletcher's being detained at home till the
mob had dispersed. ^"^
Before her marriage Mrs. Fletcher had established a home
for the poor at Leytonstone in 1763. The mobs did not pull
down this house, but they pelted the worshipers at the Sunday
meetings with mud, damaged any property that they could find
in the yard, and howled at the windows after dark.^^
Rugby, afterward made famous by the genius of its head
master, Arnold, in the eighteenth century made itself infamous
by its conduct toward the Methodists. The following is quoted
from the experiences of Mr. Robert Miller, who was born at
Rugby in 1763. Unfortunately no date is given: "Mr. Phillips
was the first Methodist preacher that ever attempted to preach
at Rugby, but the mob interrupted him in the middle of his
discourse so that he was obliged to desist. The whole town was
in an uproar, and in particular about one hundred scholars
assaulted us in a very outrageous manner. But some of my
former acquaintances interfered, and the mob consisting of
several hundred persons divided; some crying out, *Let us hear
what the man has to say,' but were opposed by others. Presently
''Tycrman, Life of John Fletcher, p. 79.
"'Life of J. Fletcher, p. 53, Tyerman Collection of Pamphlets, vol. Ixvii.
"Anna E. Keeling, Eminent Methodist Women, p. 65.
LAY PREACHERS AND PERSECUTORS 79
they went from words to blows. During the engagement we
made our escape, covered with dirt from head to foot." ^^
R. Consterdine tells us that some times a mob would follow
him for miles together with "volHes of oaths and curses." He
says he was thus treated for three months in Boston, but was
neither afraid nor hurt by them.^^
The testimony of Duncan Wright, a soldier, is of interest,
not so much on account of what he suffered, but of what he tells
of others. He says in the beginning of 1764 he ''was called to
suffer a little for the testimony of Jesus. And, indeed, but a
little; for what were a few threatenings, a little reproach, and
shame, a few stones and rotten eggs to what many of the Meth-
odists have suffered even in this age?"^^
James Rogers met with ''shameless and tumultuous" assem-
blies in 1764. They made great threats, but they did not hurt
anyone.^^ But at Lythe, about 1770, the opponents, seeing
Methodism flourish and prosper, redoubled their fury. Some
ruflians undertook to prevent his preaching, but as he did not
fear them, their efforts failed. However, after repeatedly dis-
turbing the preaching, these men collected all their forces one
night and attacked the preacher and the people as they were
leaving the preaching-house. Hearing the noise, Mr. Rogers
went out among them. They saluted him, he says, "with volleys
of oaths, and showers of stones and dirt." One of the strongest
of them then attempted to strike the preacher on the head, but
he received the blows upon his arm, which became much bruised.
Mr. Rogers then attempted to rescue a friend, whom they were
"beating in a terrible manner." Upon this his own assailant
went up behind him and struck him a blow upon the temple that
staggered and confused him. At this moment a young girl
grabbed a stone of the weight of about two pounds, and struck
'''Methodist Magazine, 1801, p. 97.
""Ibid., 1814, pp. i64ff.
"Experiences of Methodist Preachers, p. 215, Tyerman Collection of
Pamphlets, vol. xiv.
""Methodist Magazine, 1789, p. 407.
8o EARLY METHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
the assailant on the back. Thereupon he left the preacher and,
picking up the same stone, threw it at the girl, striking her in
the face with such force that she was carried home for dead.
She survived, however, but her face was cut to the bone, leaving
a scar for life. Others of the Methodists were badly hurt; one
had his face covered with blood, and his clothes torn half way
down his back.^^
They considered their escape from the mob as providential,
for at the time of this greatest violence a severe thunder storm
came up. The heavy flashes of lightning dismayed the mob
for a few moments, and the Methodists seized this opportunity
to escape. They retreated in order, however, taking the old and
infirm w^ith them, lest these should fall into the hands of their
Mr. J. U. Walker relates a violent and brutal attack upon
Mr. Blakey Spencer, a Methodist preacher. It was in 1766, near
Stark-bridge. The mob was composed of both men and women.
]\Ir. Spencer attempted to escape by running, but his strength
failing, the mob caught him, threw him to the ground, and
dragged him to the edge of a rivulet. Pointing to a whirlpool
a woman shouted, "In with him. Drown him ! Drown him ! "
But others of the mob observing him senseless upon the ground,
and thinking that he was dead, left him. After some time he
regained consciousness, and crawled home.^^
The Gentleman's Magazine relates the following: "While
Mr. Moore, a Methodist, was preaching to a numerous audience
in the ruins of old Saint Giles, he was attacked by a desperate
mob, which fractured his skull and broke one of his arms. It is
said the cause of assault was his inveighing against the errors
of the Church of Rome, and his cautioning the people against
being seduced by the artful insinuations of priests and Jesuits." ^^
Thomas Taylor experienced another instance of the temper
'Jackson's Lives, vol. iv, p. 295.
^History of Wesleyan Methodism in Halifax, etc., p. 113.
"Gentleman's Magazine, 1766, p. 339.
LAY PREACHERS AND PERSECUTORS 8i
of the mobs. Sometimes they were content to throw stones or
clods. But not infrequently they sought out filth such as they
could find to throw at the preacher, or with which to bedaub him.
Mr. Taylor says, 'T was covered with dirt from head to foot.
All the filth they could scrape up was thrown, and when I at-
tempted to turn my face on one side, I met it on the other."
He escaped them "not much hurt, but dreadfully bedaubed," so
that he ''needed much washing to be touched." ^^
On the 1 2th of March, 1767, Mr. John Valton went to the
home of Mr. Harle to hear a Methodist sermon. Shortly after
the text was announced Mr. Dearsby, the father of Mrs. Harle,
accompanied by two others, and with a horsewhip in his hand,
came into the house. He endeavored to strike the preacher, who
evaded the blow and slipped upstairs. Mr. Dearsby then went
up to Mr. Valton and asked, "Who do you belong to?" He
replied, "To the King." The persecutor then exclaimed, "No,
you are that dog," etc., "and I will write and get two or three
of you turned out of your places." He then drove Mr. Valton
out of the room. In the kitchen he threatened to roast him on
the fire, and, being a large powerful man, he took him by the
breast and thigh and laid him upon the bars. His two com-
panions interfered at this, and rescued Mr. Valton. They now
drove him out to the mob of about thirty men, who pulled
him about, saying, "This is the clerk ; pull him to pieces ! "
They tore his shirt, held him by the hair, till finally he escaped
into a house and out the back door. He had not gone far, how-
ever, when he met the vicar with his lady, who had gone to see
the "after game." The vicar saluted him with "Villain! etc.,
At the Conference in 1780 Mr. Valton was appointed to
the Manchester Circuit. During the winter he visited Gladwick
several times. All was quiet till several joined the society, then
trouble began. The mob assembled, pelted him with stones and
^Jackson's Lives, vol. v, pp. 39flf.
^Ibid., vol. vi, pp. 63ff.
S2 EARLY IMETHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
coal, till he was glad to retire within a house. The mob waited
for them to come out, when it again attacked with dirt and
stones. Fortunately, none were hurt, except one woman, who
received a severe cut on the head.*^^
In 1770 Mr. Darney visited Almondbury weekly. At his
first visit he found seven in the Society, but in four weeks the
number was increased to thirty-two. This success aroused perse-
cution. The clergyman announced from the pulpit "that his
teaching was quite sufficient for their instruction, and that he
would not tolerate any other teachers." A constable now led the
mob to the attack. Going to the house where the preacher
lodged, he asked to speak to him. But instead of speaking, he
seized him and endeavored to drag him out to the mob that was
collected about the house. In this he was unsuccessful, as friends
rescued Mr. Darney from the mob."^^
A week later Mr. Darney visited Almondbury again. During
the sermon Constable Kay appeared with his mob. He addressed
the preacher and said, "I charge thee in the name of King George
to come down." Mr. Darney replied, *T charge thee in the name
of the King of kings to let me alone." The mob then seized the
preacher by the hair, who fell heavily upon the floor. Friends
again interfered and rescued the preacher, taking him to a room
upstairs. The mob, however, entered, seized him again and
dragged him downstairs into the street, where they threw him
down and kicked him *Svith their iron-shod clogs." They fol-
lowed him down the street, striking and beating him severely.
When they reached the parsonage they again threw him and
maltreated him still more severely. He escaped to his lodgings,
but in a serious condition.''^ ^ The firmness of a justice, who also
was a clergyman, checked any such conduct in the future.
James Hall tells us that when he was a boy at Bury some
Methodist preachers went to that place, but that the greater part
of the people of the town and county were violently prejudiced
""Jackson's Lives, vol. vi, pp. ggff.
^"Richard Roberts, History of Methodism in Almondbury, p. 14.
LAY PREACHERS AND PERSECUTORS 83
against them. ^'The rich and learned stood forth as champions
to oppose them. All the calumnies that could be invented were
plentifully fixed upon them." One Sunday Mr. Hall went with
his father to hear a preacher. Just as they reached the door the
people who had assembled ran out of the house with their clothes
besmeared with dirt. They afterward learned *'that some wild
wretches had got up to the top of the partition wall, and poured
mire and filth upon them as they were singing." "^^
In the early seventies other troubles overtook them. The
lease for their preaching-house was about to expire, and the
owner refused to renew it. They could not rent another on any
terms. Most of the land and houses about the town belonged to
the lord of the manor or to the vicar, who were brothers, and
were united against the Methodists. They tried to lease land
from one who leased from the vicar, but this was thwarted.
They then got a promise of land from one who leased under
the lord of the manor. They had dug the foundation, and col-
lected lime, stone, and timber with which to build. Then the
vicar's agent took possession, and would not allow them to take
anything away which they had collected. A mob stood ready
to help him in this design.'^^
This injustice, however, brought friends. Mr. Hall's uncle,
who was not a Methodist, and who had a piece of free-hold near
the town, let them have a lot for their building. But now a new
difficulty arose. They could not purchase any building material,
for no one dared to sell to them. But Mr. Hall's uncle again
came to their relief. He allowed them to dig clay on his land
with which to make brick. And though no brickmaker dared to
help them, yet they succeeded in making their own brick, and
building their own house. Some of the Society worked by day
in making brick and in building, and others watched by night,
that the mob might not tear their material to pieces."^*
^^Experiences of James Hall, by himself, Methodist Magazine, 1703, p. 9.
"Experiences of James Hall, p. 28, Tyerman Collection of Pamphlets,
84 EARLY iMETHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
In 1772 Mr. John Murlin, while singing a hymn, was
arrested and convicted of making a riot.''^^ The next year Mr.
John Oliver preached on the street at Wrexham to about one
thousand hearers. He was arrested on the same charge as Mr.
]\Iurlin and put in jail for the night. The next morning he
appeared before the magistrates, showed his license, and de-
clared its validity. The justice told him that unless he would
promise to preach there no more, he would order him whipped
out of the town. He refused to make the promise, and after
receiving some more contemptuous words was dismissed. ''^^
Douglas, in the Isle of Man, was visited by Mr. John Crook
in 1776. Persecution began in a mild form, when the minister
sent his scholars to sing ballads on the streets against the Meth-
odists. At the next visit of Mr. Crook the opposition became
intensified. As he walked through the streets men threw brick-
bats, stones, dirt, potatoes, etc., at him. When he undertook
to preach the mob surrounded the house and threw limestone
through the window, and when the service was ended the mob
rushed at the people. The preacher received some dirt, which was
thrown at him, but a friend, not a Methodist, protected him and
took him away. This treatment was repeated at succeeding
visits, till the governor of the island told the minister plainly
that he would not allow any man to be persecuted for his religion,
upon which the minister requested his scholars to cease annoying
Samuel Hicks was the village blacksmith at Micklefield,
Yorkshire, and a local preacher. At one time while working at
his anvil, without the slightest warning, a neighbor rushed up
to him and struck him a heavy blow on the side with a stick,
which nearly felled him. Samuel exclaimed: "What art thou
about, man ! What is this for ! " Supposing it to be religious
hatred, he turned the other side, lifted up his arm, and said,
^"Experiences and Happy Deaths of Methodist Preachers, p. 137.
"Methodist Magazine, 1779, pp. 419-429.
"Memoirs of John Crook, Methodist Magazine, i8o8, p. 99.
LAY PREACHERS AND PERSECUTORS 85
"Here, man, hit that too." This was too much for his assailant,
who left him without further violence. "^^
Mr. Zechariah Yewdall tells us that about 1780 the work
was prospering at Monmouth notwithstanding the persecution
that the Methodists had suffered for ten successive years. They
appealed to the magistrates, but received no relief. Also the
matter was carried to a higher court, but members of the mob
were admitted as jurors, so again justice was abortive. There-
fore, encouraged by "persons of property and power," the mob
scoffed and hissed and drowned the preacher's voice, so that he
was obliged to desist. They insulted the women "with beastly
language," and on one occasion a lady friend was nearly killed
by a stone which struck her on the head."^^
Some time after 1780 Methodism found its way to the
islands of Jersey and Guernsey, and in three or four months
persecution followed, and continued till checked by the magis-
trates. In Guernsey, in 1786, an effort was made to transport
Mr. De Queteville, who was a local preacher. Charges were
brought against him in the Supreme Court of the island, but the
witnesses who were to swear against him failed the prosecutors,
and gave evidence in his favor, which led to his acquittal. ^^
In 1786 the Rev. Adam Clarke, afterward Dr. Clarke, and
author of Clarke's Commentaries, was appointed to these islands.
He met with even severer persecution than his predecessors. The
house in which he preached was frequently surrounded by the
mobs, and became nearly demolished. "The most violent per-
sonal indignities were frequently offered" to Mr. Clarke, "which
more than once endangered his life." "Finding that he was not
to be intimidated, one of the magistrates placed himself at the
head of the mob, and with his own hands dragged him from the
pulpit." "The drummer of the Saint Aubin militia was then
called, who actually beat his drum through the street, while the
preacher was conducted by the mob in the rear to the extremity
'^James Everett, The Village Blacksmith, p. 182.
"Experiences of Z. Yeudall, Methodist Magazine, 1795, p. 268.
*"Coke and Moore, Life of John Wesley, pp. 33 iff.
86 EARLY INIETHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
of the town, and dismissed with a most ferocious assurance that
this was only a specimen of what he must expect in case he ever
presumed to pay them another visit." ''But this ill usage was not
sufficient to drive him from the field of duty. He uniformly told
them that at the appointed time he should again appear, what-
ever consequences might ensue." ''The mob, finding him sup-
ported by an undaunted resolution, surrounded him on his return
rather to admire his bravery than to execute its threatenings ; and,
permitting him to proceed in peace, they became the savage
protectors of the man, whom they had confederated to destroy." ^^
Mr. William Bramwell, a young Methodist preacher, when
AA'esley was old, found difficulties sufficiently bitter to try his
faith, even in these later years. His friend, James Sigston, in
writing his Memoirs says that "while he remained at Blackburn
he was exposed to the various persecutions which then raged
against the followers of Wesley." "In visiting some parts of
the circuit, Mr. Bramwell had to pass a tanyard where several
bulldogs were kept. These were frequently let loose upon him,
and he was obliged to defend himself from their ferocious attacks
as well as he could. A large stick, pointed with iron, w^as his
weapon of defense." Notwithstanding this, "his legs were some-
times torn in a dangerous manner." ^^
Thus through a period of time extending over a half a
century did this group of men suffer for the sake of what they
most firmly believed to be the gospel of Jesus Christ. Whatever
may be one's sentiments toward their religion, he must certainly
bow reverently before the heroic courage and the unselfish
devotion of men who counted nothing, not even life itself, as a
sacrifice too great to offer if only they might live and preach the
gospel as their consciences dictated.
"'Coke and Moore, Life of John Wesley, pp. 33iff; also Osborn Pamph-
lets, Memoirs of Women, sec. 2; Memoirs of Mrs. E. Arrive, p. 24.
"James Sigston, Memoirs of Wm, Bramwell, pp. 38ff.
THE METHODIST PEOPLE AND THE MOBS
It has been said that the first mob violence against the
Methodists occurred at Bristol, April i, 1740.^ Several nights
before some had labored to disturb them, but at this time, while
Wesley was preaching, the court, the alleys, and all the street,
upward, and downward, were filled with people, "shouting, curs-
ing, and swearing, and ready to swallow the ground with fierce-
ness and rage." They disregarded the mayor's order to dis-
perse, and grossly insulted the chief constable who was present.
At length the mayor sent several officers, who arrested the ring-
leaders, and did not leave the place till the mob was dispersed.
The next disturbance was at London. At the Foundry, the
Methodist preaching-house, Charles Wesley found a holiday mob
very outrageous.^ But the magistrates, by order of the govern-
ment, quickly checked disturbances at the capital. However, it
was preparing soon to break out elsewhere with terrible fury.
Charles Wesley, accompanied by Mr. Graves, first preached
at Wednesbury in November, 1742.^ He was followed by John
Wesley in January, 1743, who spent four days there, preached
eight sermons, and formed a society of about one hundred mem-
bers.* Mr. Egginton, the vicar, preached "3. plain useful ser-
mon," invited Wesley to his house, and told him that the oftener
he came the welcomer he would be, for he said Mr. Wesley
had done much good there already, and he doubted not but that
he would do much more good.^
^Above, p. 25.
^Charles Wesley, Journal, May 22, 1740.
^Tyerman, Life and Times, vol. i, pp. 406-407.
*John Wesley, Journal, January 8-12, 1743.
■^John Wesley, Works, Letter to John Smith, London, June 25, 1746.
88 EARLY METHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
Wesley was followed by Mr. Williams, who imprudently
vilified the clergy; then by a bricklayer; then by a plumber and
glazier. Malice and feuds sprang up. *'The Methodists spoke ill-
natured things of their lawful ministers." ^ Mr. Egginton heard
"a vehement visitation charge" by a bishop, and also understood
that the Alethodists had publicly preached against drunkenness,
which he thought "must have been designed for satire on him." "^
Wesley again visited Wednesbury in April. He found
things "surprisingly altered." "The inexcusable folly of Mr.
Williams had so provoked Mr. Egginton that his former love was
turned into hate." On Sunday he preached a sermon so wicked,
and delivered with "such bitterness of voice and manner" as
Wesley had never heard. The evangelist now began to prepare
the people for what he knew must follow; and while he was
preaching a gentleman rode up very drunk, uttering many bitter
and unseemly words, and tried to ride over the people.^ Wesley
departed for other fields of labor. But the minister of Wednes-
bury, Mr. Egginton, with several neighboring justices, Mr. Lane,
of Bentley Hall, and Mr. Persehouse, of Walsal, in particular
stirred up the basest of the people to violence.^
The storm broke about the 22A of May, 1743, and with
intermissions raged the remainder of that year and part of the
next.^^ The signal for this outburst was a visit from Charles
^Tyerman, Life and Times, vol. i, pp. 406-407.
'John Wesley, Works, Letter to J. Smith.
^ohn Wesley, Journal, April 15-17, 1743-
It was afterwards learned that this was a neighboring clergyman.
'John Wesley, Works, Short History of Methodist People, par. 23.
Note — The account here of the Wednesbury riot is taken chiefly from a
pamphlet entitled Modern Christianity Exemplified. Other brief accounts
may be found in Jonathan Crowther, Methodist Manual, p. 10 ; John Wesley's
Journal, February 18, 1744; John Wesley's Works, A Farther Appeal, par. 6flP.;
Tyerman, Life and Times of John Wesley, vol. i, pp. 4o6ff.; John Wesley's
Works, A Short History of the Methodist People, pars. 23ff.
'^John Wesley, Works, Modern Christianity, Exemplified at Wednes-
bury, par. 5.
NoTK — Modern Christianity Exemplified at Wednesbury is a pamphlet
published l)y John Wesley, now found in his Works. It consists of the depo-
METHODIST PEOPLE AXD THE ^lOBS 89
Wesley. He came on the 20th, and found a society of above
three hundred members. The enemy raged exceedingly, and the
ministers preached against the ^lethodists. A few had returned
raihng for railing, but the generality had behaved as the fol-
lowers of Jesus Christ.^^ On the 21st he preached at Walsal.
The mob shouted, and threw stones incessantly, and as he w^as
leaving, a ruffian twice bore him down from the steps. ^^ The
next day he preached at Wednesbury again, taking his leave on
the 23rd. ^^ It was now that the black and threatening cloud
poured forth its torrents of fury. It began first at Darlaston.
Ten Methodists, one a woman, had all the windows of their
houses broken, and many of their goods damaged or spoiled;
six, one a w^oman, had all their windows broken twice; three,
one a widow, had their windows broken and money extorted
to save their houses; two had their window^s broken, and their
goods broken or spoiled; one had his windows broken, and his
house broken open, some goods taken and some lost; one had
his windows broken tw^ce, and was compelled to go along with
the rioters ; one, Elizabeth Lingham, a widow with five children,
had her goods spoiled, her spinning wheel broken, which was
the support of her family, and her parish allowance reduced from
two shillings six pence to one shilling six pence a week; one
had his windows broken twice, and his w^ife, who was soon to
become a mother, abused and beaten with clubs ; one had his win-
dows broken, and to save his house was forced to give the mob
drink ; one had his windows and goods broken, and was forced to
remove from the town; one had his windows broken twice, and
his wife so frightened that she miscarried. ^^
The Wednesbury Methodists had joined wath those of
sitions of thirty-four persons, one of whom was Wesley himself. They state
what they experienced or saw. (See John Wesley, Works; also Tyerman
Collection of Pamphlets, vol. xvii.)
^^Charles Wesley, Journal, May 20, 1743.
"Ibid., May 21, 1743.
^^Ibid., May 22-23, 1743.
^*Modern Christianity Exemplified at Wednesbury, par. 5.
90 EARLY IMETHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
Darlaston in their evening meeting to sing, pray, and read the
Bible. When the mob arose and broke the windows of the house
in which they met they too were pelted with clods and stones.
Mr. John Adams, the owner of the house, secured a warrant for
some of the rioters to appear before Justice P. (Persehouse),
of Walsal, on the 30th of May. Mr. Adams desired some of
those of Wednesbury to go with him. Accordingly, several went,
among whom were John Eaton, James Jones, and Francis Ward.
They met their Darlaston friends at a house in Walsal. The
mob there arose and pelted them all with dirt and stones while
going to the justice's house. The justice told them that they
would have to go downtown, then he would hear their complaint.
The mob continued to pelt them, even with the justice present,
for he went with them. Francis Ward desired him to quell the
mob, but he refused. When they reached the town the justice
desired a hearing in the street among the mob, but they prevailed
upon him to go into a house.^^ Here, after a little talk, he ex-
claimed, ''What, are you Methodists?" and left them and went
out to the mob. They stayed in the house for some time, but
when they went out the mob gathered about them, beat and pelted
them with whatever they could find. Several of them were
severely bruised. One struck Francis Ward on the eye and cut
it so that he expected to lose its sight. He got into a shop, had
his eye dressed, and returned to his friends. The mob pursued
him, took him out of the house, and beat him severely. He got
from them, and returned to the house; they brought him out
again, dragged him along the street and through the kennel back
and forth till he was so weak that he could not get up. Then
a woman came and said to the mob, ''Will ye kill the man! " and
lifted him up. He got back to the house, and with difficulty got
home, but the abuse that he had received threw him into a
fever. ^^ The house was a public house, which he and the rest
of the company did not dare to leave till dark, when they made
'Modern Christianity Exemplified, pars, i, 2, and 4.
'Ibid., par. 4.
METHODIST PEOPLE AND THE MOBS 91
good their escape, one and two at a time. John Eaton and
Francis Ward were the last to leave. ^^
On the 19th of June James Yeoman, of Walsal, saw Mary
Bird in her father's house at Wednesbury, and swore that a
mob would come the next day, break their windows, and kill
her.^^ According to this previous arrangement, the next day
a multitude, chiefly from Walsal, Darlaston, and Bilston, gathered
in the churchyard at Wednesbury. When they had assembled
their whole company by sounding a horn they went forth on
their mission of violence. The rioting continued till near the
last of the month. It raged chiefly in Wednesbury, Walsal,
Darlaston, and West Bromwlch.^^ When it ceased, there were
in and about Wednesbury more than eighty houses which had
been assaulted, and in many of these there were not left three
panes of glass. ^^
On the 20th, true to the threat of James Yeoman, the mob
went to the home of John Bird. They demanded money of his
Avife. She offered them some, w^hich they snatched out of her
hand, then broke ten front windows, the sash frames, shutters,
cases, chest of drawers, hanging-press, and damaged the ceiling,
doors, dresser, and many other things. ^^ The daughter, Mary,
was threatened with murder, and struck on the side of the head
■with a stone, which knocked her down, and caused the blood to
The windows, casements, and ceiling of John Turner's house
w^ere broken.^^ Humphrey Hands w^as seized by the throat, and
thrown down; he arose and was struck on the eye and knocked
down; then the mob went to his house, broke the windows,
window posts, and many of his household goods. They went
"Modern Christianity Exemplified, par. 2.
''Ibid., par. 8.
'^John Wesley, Works, A Farther Appeal, part 3, sec. 2, par. 6.
^Modern Christianity, pars. 2 and 11.
^'Ibid., par. 9.
"Ibid., par. 8.
^^Ibid., par. 10.
92 EARLY METHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
to his shop, broke it open and destroyed his pots, bottles, medi^
cines, and iixtures.^^
Again, on the 20th of June, Mr. Adams's house at Darlaston
was attacked by a rude mob, which threw many stones through
the window. Mr. Adams appealed once more to Squire Perse-
house, who again would not act at his own hall, but sent them
down into the town where a great mob was waiting for them.
He then refused to act for them, but went to the door and told
the mob that ''they might do what they would," then took off
his hat, swung it about, and went away. Now the Methodists
were at the mercy of the mob, which beat and bruised them
About a week later the Darlaston mob went to the home
of Jonathan Jones, a farmer, broke nine large windows and
much of his goods; then meeting his man with a team, they beat
and abused him and the team. At night they returned to the
house to destroy the rest of the goods, but Mr. Jones gave them
money, and they went away.^^
At West Bromwich the assembled mob asked Mr. Jonas
Turner whether he w^ould keep from these Methodists and go to
the church. He replied that he went to the church very often,
but never saw any of them there. They then dragged him about,
and broke all of his windows, and threw into the house three
basketfuls of stones to break his goods.^^
The next day, June 21st, they assembled again in the
churchyard. ^^ From here they went first to the home of John
Eaton. He was constable,, so he went to the door with his con-
stable's staff, and began to read the Act of Parliament against
riots, but the stones flew so thick about his head that he was
forced to retire. They broke half of his windows, and went
"Modern Christianity Exemplified, par. 11.
"Ibid., par. 3.
"Ibid., par. 6.
"Ibid., par. 2.
METHODIST PEOPLE AND THE MOBS 93
away, but some hours later returned and broke all the rest, the
door of the house, and a large clock.^^
The home of Mary Turner also was assaulted. She was
within the house and her two daughters without. The mob
threw stones and bricks into the house so fast that she feared
to remain within, and ran out among them. Her daughter
observed this and cried, ^'My mother will be killed." They then
threw stones at the daughter till she ran into a neighbor's house.
They followed the other daughter with stones, and one with a
stake. She was greatly frightened, and ran into another house.
Whereupon the mob broke what panes of glass remained, and a
woman came with a club and broke part of the tiling on the roof.^^
During the latter part of June John Griffiths and Francis
Ward went to a justice of the peace, told him the condition of
themselves and of their neighbors ; how their houses were broken
and their goods spoiled. He replied, *T suppose you follow
these parsons that come about ! " talked roughly to them, and
said, *T will neither meddle nor make," and refused them a
After the commission of these outrages Mr. Mil ford Wilks
heard the Rev. Mr. Egginton say to the mob: "Well, my lads,
he that has done it out of pure zeal for the church; I don't
blame him. My lads, I hope you will let us settle our affairs in
our own parish ourselves; but, if these men should come, and
they should follow them, then your help will be needful." ^^
Wesley again visited Wednesbury on the 20th of October.
This visit was in response to the earnest entreaty of several
persons from the town. He yielded and went. At twelve o'clock
he preached without molestation in a ground near the middle of
the town.^^ On the afternoon and evening of this day occurred
'^Modern Christianity Exemplified, par. i.
'"Ibid., par. 7.
''Ibid., par. 13.
''John Wesley, Journal, October 20, 1743; also Modern Christianity
Exemplified, par. 34.
94 EARLY METHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
the memorable riot against him, which has received further
notice in another chapter.^*
A few days after Wesley left, the following "curiosity," as
Wesley called it, was circulated in this vicinity :
To all High-Constables, Petty-Constables, and others of his
Majesty's Peace-Officers within the said county, and particularly to
the Constable of Tipton [near Walsal.],
Whereas, we his Majesty's Justices of the Peace for the said
county of Stafford have received information that several disorderly
persons, styling themselves Methodist preachers, go about raising
routs and riots to the great damage of his Majesty's liege people,
and against the peace of our Sovereign Lord, the King;
These are in his Majesty's name to command you and every
one of you, within your respective districts, to make diligent search
after the said Methodist preachers, and to bring him, or them, before
some of us, his said Majesty's Justices of the Peace, to be examined
concerning their unlawful doings.
Given under our hands and seal this day of October, 1743.
These were the same justices to whose houses Wesley was taken,
and who refused to see him.
Charles Wesley was near the place and was urged to go and
preach to the people in the middle of the town. He responded and
reached Wednesbury after dark October 25. The Methodists
held a service that night at Francis Ward's, and again early in
the morning. Then, as soon as it was light, Charles Wesley
walked down the town and preached from Rev. 2. 10, after which
he received into the society a young man, who had had his arm
broken in protecting John Wesley from the mob, six days before ;
also he received on trial "Honest Munchin," as he was called,
the captain of the mob that assaulted John Wesley, and the man
who finally rescued him from the rabble. Charles Wesley then
departed, riding through the town unmolested.^^
^'Above, pp. 26ff.
^'John Wesley, Journal, October 20, 1743.
^Charles Wesley, Journal, October 25, 1743.
METHODIST PEOPLE AND THE MOBS 95
Rioting broke out again in November, at Line and Mare's
Green. The mob went one evening to the place of meeting and
tore down a shop belonging to the place. At the next meeting
they came again and made the roof of the house to crack and
sink so that the members of the society thought it unsafe to
remain within lest it should fall upon them. Therefore they
went out in the dark amid a shower of stones. ^''^
The Methodists then thought it best to meet in the daytime,
but immediately the mob was assembled together by the blowing
of a horn. They went from house to house with threatenings,
and in one instance plundered things to the value of several
The sufferers tried to secure a warrant, but the magistrate
exclaimed : ''What, you are Methodists ! Get about your busi-
ness; you shall have no warrant. I am informed you are the
vilest men that live." ^^
In January and February, 1744,^^ rioting and violence
reached its climax. The common crier went through the town
ringing a bell, and gave notice that all the people belonging to
the society must go to a certain house and sign a paper to the
effect that they would not hear the Methodist preachers any
more, and that, if they did not do so, they must expect to have
their houses pulled down.^^ This the far greater part refused
to do, choosing rather to suffer the loss of all things. Then the
plundering began. House after house was entered and the
"Modern Christianity Exemplified, par. 14.
^®NoTE — In Modern Christianity Exemplified the riots of January and
February are given as occurring in 1743. This is an error, doubtless a mis-
print. The society was not formed till January, 1743, and rioting did not
begin till May 22 of that year. Also, the Methodists heard Charles Wesley on
February 5, 1744, "at the peril of their Hves," and on February 18, 1744, John
Wesley received from James Jones an account of rioting on January 23 and
February i, 6, etc. This account relates the same occurrences, as in 1744,
which are given in Modern Christianity as in 1743. (John Wesley, Journal,
January 8-12, 1743; Charles Wesley, Journal, February 5, 1744; John Wesley,
Journal, February 18, 1744.)
*°Ibid., par. 16.
96 EARLY AIETHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
furniture, and clothing and bedding destroyed or stolen, and in
many instances the windows and doors of the house destroyed ;^^
in one case the house was partly torn down and in another com-
pletely demolished.^^ Many of their shops and business places
were greatly damaged, and in several instances the tools or
goods were ruthlessly destroyed. In one case they destroyed
five hives of bees; killed and carried away the hens, and threw
the hay out of the barn.*^ In another they injured a calf so that
it had to be killed. And this after having rifled and looted the
Thus in the dead of winter the Methodists, with their help-
less children, were driven from their homes perhaps to hide in
the hedges, or in the darkness. And upon re-entering their
houses, themselves cold and wet and tired and penniless, to find
them barren, if not destroyed. In some instances the neighbors
tried to save the homes or the goods of the persecuted by giving
money to the rioters,*^ but they dared not receive them into
their houses lest they should suffer by the spoiling of their own
goods. ^^ All this suffering could have been avoided simply by
signing a paper of recantation. Some wept at such wickedness,
but they rejoiced in the plundering of their goods, some having
suffered thus several times, rather than to offend their con-
sciences.^''' They "continued to meet morning and evening in
great love one with another, nothing terrified by their adver-
saries."^^ Nearly a century later many Methodist families in
Wednesbury still preserved fragments of furniture as precious
memories of the sufferings of their fathers. ^^
Charles Wesley was on the scene again on February 5, and
"Modern Christianity Exemplified,
26, and 30.
'R. Watson, Life of John Wesley, vol. i, p. 196.
METHODIST PEOPLE AND THE ]\IOBS 97
preached to a large congregation, many of whom were present
at the risk of personal danger. He encouraged them as best he
could, taking leave of them at daybreak the next morning. ^^
This visit was at the time of the most destructive of all the riots,
for these disorders were at their height from January to Feb-
ruary, 1744. He was informed that, particularly at Walsal, the
rioters had set up papers in the town calling upon the country
around to rise with them and exterminate the Methodists. ^^
Shocking, however, as was the brutality of this merciless
mob, yet more bestial still was their treatment of some of the
women. The sufferings of some have been noticed above. The
worst came nearly the last. One was knocked down, and bruised
in many places ;^^ another was forced to flee from her home
and to stay in the fields in midwinter with her infant, born only
two weeks before, in her arms,^^ and a third was assaulted by a
group of men, who threw her to the ground, and four or five
held her that another might force her. She fought bitterly and
untiringly, and, after being severely beaten, escaped them.^*
Others also, even pregnant women, were treated in a manner
"too horrible to mention." ^^ In April Charles Wesley sent
sixty pounds to Wednesbury for the relief of this afflicted
It is not surprising that this spirit of persecution spread
against a sect that was "everywhere spoken against," particularly
after such an example had been set in the vicinity of Wednes-
bury. It found bitter expression at Sheffield, where, on the 25th
of i\'Iay, only a few days after the outbreak at Wednesbury, the
Methodist meetinghouse was leveled to the ground.^' This mode
°°Charles Wesley, Journal, February 5, 1744.
°^Ibid., February 4, 1744.
"Modern Christianity Exemplified, par. 16.
°^Ibid., par. 27.
"Ibid., pars. 17, ^2; also John Wesley, History of People Called Meth-
odist, par. 23; also John Wesley, A Farther Appeal, part 3, sec. 2. par. 9.
"John Wesley, Journal, February 18, 1744.
^^Charles Wesley, Journal, April 19, 1744.
"James Everett, Historical Sketches of Alethodism in Sheffield, p. 43.
98 EARLY METHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
of attack was repeated in April, 1745. Wesley, shortly after this,
preached on the floor, which was all that remained of the build-
jj^g 5s Then, for better security against the mob, the next house
was built in the form of a dwelling, and was occupied as such.
In February, 1746, the mob extended its operations to this house.
The rioting began on Monday, and continued all that week till
Saturday, when the building was finally demolished. ^^ Violences
and annoyances continued here with varying degrees of bitter-
ness till 1765, when they finally abated.
At Hampton were also serious disturbances. The local
preacher, who led the society and preached to the people, was
thrown into a lime pit, and later into the river, where he was
injured. A young woman had her arm broken in two places and
several others were seriously hurt.^^ A complete and detailed
account of this riot is not given, but it necessitated collecting
sixty pounds for the relief of the sufferers.
Another great outbreak was in Cornwall, and rivaled that
of Wednesbury for bitterness. It began probably some time in
May, 1743,^^ and raged for more than a year, before its bitter-
ness abated. The mass of the people were sunk into deep ignor-
ance, extreme brutality, and vulgar vices. There was, however,
a small company that withstood the common wickedness. These
met in a society by themselves for religious exercises. They
were found by a captain, who told them of the Methodists.
They then sent an invitation to the Wesleys to visit them, which
led to the beginning of the society in Cornwall.^^ But Wesley
sorrowfully records that the ''same imprudence which laid the
foundation for all the disturbances in Staffordshire had broken
out here also, and turned many of our friends into bitter and
°®John Wesley, Journal, April 29, 1745.
^"James Everett, Historical Sketches, pp. 57-58.
'"''George Whitefield, Works, vol. ii, p. 31 ff.. Letter to Mrs. D., July 9,
"'John Wesley, Journal, May 17, 1743.
'•John Wesley, Works, History Methodist People, par. 2J ; also Tyer-
man. Life and Times of John Wesley, vol. i, p. 416.
METHODIST PEOPLE AND THE ^^lOBS 99
implacable enemies." ^^ Charles AVesley reached Saint Ives be-
tween seven and eight o'clock on the evening of July 16, 1743,
and was saluted roughly by the mob. He found the people as
sheep among wolves. "The priests stir up the people, and make
their minds evil effected toward the brethren." On Sunday,
the 17th, he heard the rector preach, when he spoke of ''the new
sect," calling them ''enemies of the church, seducers, troublers,
scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, etc." He then rode to Wed-
nock, where he heard the curate preach on "Beware of false
prophets," and uttered such a "hodgepotch of railing, foolish
lies as Satan himself might have been ashamed of."^* He
preached at Saint Ives, and the mob broke upon them, beat and
dragged the women about and trampled upon them without
mercy.^^ This brutality was repeated several different times.
Later the}^ demolished the preaching-house, and went in the
dead of night and broke the windows of the houses of all that
were suspected of being Methodists. Into one home they threw
heavy stones, some of which fell on a pillow within a few inches
of an infant child.^^ All the summer of 1744 the persecution
here raged as violently as in Staffordshire. ]\Iany were knocked
dow^n, and many were very bloody, having been beaten severely.^ "^
Some were imprisoned and sent for soldiers, as we shall see in
another chapter.^ ^ This persecution extended to various parts of
Cornwall and continued for several years. The people were
scattered for a time, but were gathered together again, and helped
each other to stand firm.
During the year 1744 persecution was by no means local.
Wesley says that at this time the war against the jMethodists,
so called, was everywhere carried on, and with far more vigor
'^John Wesley, Journal, May 17, 1743.
"Charles Wesley, Journal, July 15-17, 1743.
"Ibid., July 22ff.
•^^Ibid., July I9ff., 1744-
"John Wesley, Journal, September 16, 1744.
"^^Charles Wesley, Journal, July 21, 1746.
100 EARLY :METH0DISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
than that against the Spaniards. *^^ Wherever they went there
was opposition, reviling or violence, or all combined.
In February violence broke out at Dudley. Houses were
broken into, robbed, and destroyed, and, if any were heard sing-
ing or pra3'ing by day or by night, the house would be broken
into, and the people robbed or beaten with impunity. "^^ There
was still violence here as late as 1749.
February 5, 1744, there was rioting at Birmingham, where
also the storm had begun in earnest. The people were violently
driven from their place of meeting and pelted in the streets with
dirt and stones."^^ The mob struck Mr. Sant on the temple with
a large stick and knocked him down. He was taken home for
dead. They might have killed him, but for the cries of a little
child, which alarmed the family inside, who rescued him.'^^
There were also disturbances here in 1753, in 1764, and in 1766.''^
On February 6, 1744, disturbances broke out at Wittenton.
On the 8th at Litchfield, where the mob laid waste all before
them, two families suffered loss to the amount of two hundred
On April 29, 1745, there occurred a shameful riot at Exeter
at which the women, as they left the preaching house, were
pushed down into the dirt. A few days later another riot occurred
here, which was far more violent than the former. "^^ Tyerman
quotes the following from the London Evening Post for May 16,
1745 : 'Tn Exeter the Methodists had a meetinghouse behind the
Guildhall, and on May 6th the mob gathered at the door and
pelted those who entered with potatoes, mud, and dung. On
coming out the congregation were all beaten without exception;
many were trampled under foot; many fled without their hats
'■'John Wesley, Journal, September 16, 1744.
'"Charles Wesley, Journal, February 3, 1744.
"'Ibid., February sff., 1744.
"Ibid., February 8, 1744.
''John Wesley, Journal, March 22, 1753; March 21, 1764; March 19, 1766.
^'Christian History, vol. vii, pp. 44-45; Charles Wesley, Journal, Feb-
ruary 9, 1744.
^'Christian History, vol. vii. No. 2, p. 34.
METHODIST PEOPLE AND THE MOBS lol
and wigs, and some without coats, or with half of them torn to
tatters. Some of the women were lamed, and others stripped
naked and rolled most indecently in the kennel, their faces be-
smeared with lampblack, flour, and dirt. This disgraceful mob
consisted of some thousands of cowardly blackguards, and the
disturbance was continued till midnight." '^^
The author of an anonymous pamphlet, published in 1745,
assures the public that he never would have ''taken up his pen in
defense of the Methodists, had they not been daily and openly
treated in Exeter with such rudeness, violence, and abuse as
would have made even Indians or pagans to have blushed. . . .
The Methodists, not only on the day of the grand riot, but many
times since, have been treated by this lawless rabble with the
utmost fury and violence. They have been mobbed and insulted
at noonday in the open streets, and furiously pelted with dirt,
stones, sticks and cabbage-stumps." '^'^ He relates that "the rioters
violently entered the Methodist meetinghouse, interrupted the
minister with opprobrious and obscene language, and fell upon
him in a most furious manner with blows and kicks. They
treated every man they could lay their hands upon with such
abuse and indignity as is not to be expressed. But what is more
than all was their abominable rudeness to the poor women. Some
were stripped quite naked. Others, notwithstanding their most
piercing cries for mercy and deliverance, were forcibly held by
some of the wicked ruffians while others turned" their garments
"over their heads, and forced them to remain in that condition as
a spectacle to their infamous banter and ridicule ; the poor crea-
tures being afterwards dragged through the kennel, which had
"Tyerman, Life and Times of John Wesley, vol. i, p. 473.
"Tyerman, Life of George Whitefield, vol. ii, p. 114!?.
Note — This pamphlet is entitled A Brief Account of the Late Persecu-
tion and Barbarous Usage of the Methodists at Exeter by an Impartial Hand.
The writer assures his readers that he is not a Methodist himself, and he
"concludes by saying that his pamphlet was written 'for his own private
amusement, and without any design to publish it,' and that its publication was
the result of what he saw and heard after the pamphlet was finished."
(Tyerman, Life of George Whitefield, vol. ii, pp. ii4ff.)
102 EARLY METHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
been filled with mud and dirt. Others of the women had their
clothes," even their underclothes, ^'torn from their backs. Toward
the close of the evening one of the mob forced a woman up into the
gallery and attempted other outrages three different times. After
many struggles she freed herself, leaped over the gallery, and so
made her escape. Many, to avoid falling into the hands of this
wicked crew, leaped out of the windows, and got over the garden
walls to the endangering of their lives. This outrage was com-
mitted in the center of the city, and in the presence of many
thousands. The riot continued for several hours. . . . Many of
the women are now in very critical circumstances, under the care
of surgeons and apothecaries, and their lives are even yet, two
days after the riot, in danger." '^^
In February, 1747, riots broke out at Devizes. The mob
began by ringing the bells backward, and by men running back
and forth through the streets. While searching for the preacher,
who was their intended victim, they broke open and ransacked
the house where they supposed him to have been. They also
went to the inn and plied the fire engine upon it, thinking him
there. In the meantime they caught an influential member of
the society, threw him into a pond, and seriously injured him.
It was reported that his back was broken. "^^
In May of this year there were disturbances in Manchester,^^
and about the same time at Port Isaac, where the mob assaulted
Edward Grenfill, whom they left for dead.^^ It was probably
during this year also that John Nelson's wife suffered so cruelly
near Wakefield. She and some other women had set out for
Birstal, but the mob overtook them in the fields. She spoke to
them; the men left, but the women cursed her, saying, "You
are John Nelson's wife, and here you shall die." Though they
saw that she was soon to become a mother, yet they beat her so
^"Tyerman, Life of George Whitefield, vol. ii, pp. Ii4ff.
"Charles Wesley, Journal, February 24, 1747.
"*John Wesley, Journal, May 7, 1747.
"Ibid., July 13, 1747.
METHODIST PEOPLE AND THE MOBS 103
brutally as to kill the child, and caused her to miscarry imme-
diately upon reaching home.^^
At Roughlee a mob assembled, which caused the people to
run before it amid showers of dirt and stones. They neither
regarded age nor sex. They trampled some in the mire, or
dragged them by the hair, or beat them with clubs. They forced
one to leap from a rock ten or twelve feet high into the river,
and when he crawled out, wet and bruised, they were restrained
with difficulty, from throwing him in again.^^ While this outrage
was being perpetrated the magistrates were well content to let
Even Lady Huntingdon's home was not spared from being
the scene of these riots, though not till the spring of 1750, when
some of the better people, so called, "stirred some of the baser
sort to riot before her Ladyship's door, while the gospel was
preaching," and while some of the people were returning home
they narrowly escaped being murdered.^*
At Wrangle a company of people was assaulted, many of
whom were beaten, some knocked down, and others dragged
away and thrown into drains or deep water. The mob then
broke into a house, dragged the man out of bed, and forced him
out of the house naked; then they spoiled the goods of the
house.^^ At Uffcumbe the mob having been disappointed in
their victim, caught a poor chimney-sweep, though not a Meth-
odist, dragged him away, and half killed him before he escaped
In 1 75 1 at Frome a most cowardly persecution took place,
and again, as so frequently before, women were the bitterest
sufferers. The people were quietly engaged in a service, in a
licensed house, when two men began a violent abuse, and engaged
in vulgar and obscene songs. They then began to destroy the
*^John Nelson, Journal, p. 91.
*^John Wesley, Journal, August 25, 1748.
®*George Whitefield, Letter, Ashby, May 19, 1750.
^''John Wesley, Journal, August 15, 1751.
^"Ibid., August 30, 175 1.
104 EARLY METHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
pulpit furniture. Some women tried to quiet them, when one
woman was thrown violently to the floor, and injured by the
fall. Whereupon, this injured woman and her sister, an elderly
lady, were summoned to appear before a magistrate. Their
assailant, with others, swore that they had assaulted him and
torn his shirt. They were locked up for that night, and the
next day, Sunday, were taken to jail in a neighboring town.
Then they were taken out of jail and conducted to Taunton,
where the court was held, in company with common criminals.
At the court, for three successive days, they were placed in the
common coop with these criminals. Here, without friends or
advisers, they were told that the matter would be dropped against
them, and were advised that this was best for them. They
accepted, and the mock case was ended. But the women wrote
a full account of the affair, which was published in pamphlet
form. Mr. Tuck reproduced part of this pamphlet in his account.
This occurrence broke up the society in Frome. It was re-
established about five years later, though not without bitter
persecution, in which wom.en were grossly insulted on their way
to and from the meetings. At one time a meeting was broken
up, and the furniture of the room carried into the street and
burned. At other times men who were engaged in prayer were
seized by the mob, and their heads struck against the wall with
such force as to cause the blood to gush out from the nose
In 1752 there occurred a riot at Norwich. The Gentleman's
Magazine attempts to give some of the reasons for this disorder.
This writer says that one cause seemed to he that the preacher,
who ought to have been content with preaching on Sundays,
called his hearers together two or three times a day; that the
parish was loaded with helpless infants by this much preaching,
while the preacher '^pocketed ten or twelve guineas every week."
It is a little surprising that such a magazine should rehearse the
''Stephen Tuck, Wesleyan Methodism in Frome, pp. i6ff. He copies
from a pamphlet published at the time of the occurrence.
METHODIST PEOPLE AND THE MOBS 105
common slanders of the day. He adds, however, that the popu-
lace did great damage to the houses of several of the Methodists,
and injured the persons of others.^^ There was violence here
again in 1754, 1761, and as late as 1775. At this last date the
captain of the mob "struck many, chiefly women, with a large
At Chester, in 1752, the Methodists were insulted by the
base and savage, and threatened with dismissal by those of
education and polished manners. In July the preaching house
was partly demolished by the mob.^^
At Leeds, in 1753, one, "by the courtesy of England, called
a gentleman," hired a townsman eminent for drunkenness and
fighting to head the mob, which pursued the preachers from
place to place, and damaged the house of a neighbor who allowed
Methodist services to be held in his home.^^ In the same year
the meetinghouse at Nantwich was demolished. And Whitefield
writes regretting that the tumults in certain parts still continue
at such a height.^ ^
William Green, a schoolmaster, was the principal Methodist
at Rotherham, and consequently was the chief object of the
vengeance of the mobs. At one time, about 1750 or later, a "mob
assembled, which was not infrequently the case when he passed
along the street. Some of the most ferocious caught him by the
hair and dragged him through the most conspicuous parts of the
town." At another time the mob went to his house, broke his
windows and forcibly entered his home. In the meantime Mr.
Green had escaped by the back door. After many fruitless
attempts to find him themselves, they set hounds upon his trail.
He escaped by climbing a tree and hiding himself among its
foliage. The hounds went round and round the place where he
^^Gentleman's Magazine, March 22, 1752.
*°John Wesley, Journal, December 2, 1775.
""Ibid., July 3, 1752; Methodist Magazine, 1809, p. 232ff.
'^Methodist Magazine, 1803, p. 110=
"George Whitefield, Letter, Wolverhampton, October 27, 1753; Letter,
London, December 17, 1753.
io6 EARLY ^lETHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
was concealed without manifesting any sign of detecting his
However, there were occasional incidents that would appear
humorous, were it not for the brutality involved. One of these
occurred in Oxfordshire in 1764. A mob was intent upon catch-
ing the Methodist preacher, who escaped them. One of the
persecutors, not willing entirely to miss the sport, sought an
eminence, and began to mimic the preacher. Thereupon the
mob carried the farce much farther than he had anticipated.
They pulled down the mock preacher and rolled him about in
the dirt, to their great delight but to his mortification, till he
was very glad to escape.^*
On August 21, 1770, "a great riot happened at the Meth-
odist Chapel in Cumberland St." (probably London). "The
preacher was worsted, the congregation driven out, and a pad-
lock put upon the door."^^ And as late as 1774 a mob assem-
bled at Richmond, near London, to the "no small terror" of the
Methodists. The mob then selected one of their own number,
whom they called Rowland Hill. They held a mock trial, and
condemned the victim to death, and ordered him chained down.
Two days later they proceeded to the mock execution in the
exact form that was observed with criminals, till they reached
a place opposite the Methodist meetinghouse, where there had
been a gallows set up. Here they completed the farce, some
affirm, by hanging an effigy, while others say that the victim was
hanged with the rope under his arms.^^
"^Wesleyan Methodism in Sheffield, pp. 84, 86.
'^Methodist Magazine, 1807, p. 413.
"'Gentleman's Magazine, August, 1770, p. 391.
""Gospel Magazine, 1774, p. 215.
PERILS OF THE LAY PREACHERS IN IRELAND
In any case of persecution, that the preachers were marked
men and the chief objects of popular hatred has been observed
in regard to England/ and it was the same in Ireland. Were
it not for the depositions, which were prepared in order to
place evidence before the grand jury, we would know much less
about the details of the sufferings of the Methodist people.
There having been no such depositions left by the preachers, our
chief sources of information concerning them are their biogra-
phies, written by themselves, or by friends. Where no biogra-
phies remain we know but very little about them, only that they
all suffered with the Methodist people in general.
In November, 1747, during Charles Wesley's first visit to
Dublin, having heard that the minister had procured a mob to
hinder the preaching, he would not allow either preachers or
people to expose themselves.^ Near Athlone, however, the
preachers were unexpectedly exposed and assaulted. Charles
Wesley, in company with six others, one of whom was Jonathan
Healey, a preacher, was riding toward the city when they were
met by five or six horsemen. Mr. Healey was three or four
yards ahead of the others. A volley of stones flew, and Mr.
Healey was knocked off his horse. He fell backward and lay
senseless upon the ground. The mob was seen to be gathering
from all sides. Wesley observed that the man who had knocked
down Mr. Healey was striking him in the face with a club. He
called to him to stop, which drew the assailant upon himself, but
he thinks that probably by this he saved Mr. Healey 's life.^
^A.bove, p. 61.
^Charles Wesley, Journal, November 12, 1747.
^Ibid., February 10, 1748.
io8 EARLY METHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
The priest of the village had preached against the Methodists
on the previous Sunday, and had encouraged the mob. The
man who struck Mr. Healey was the priest's servant, and rode
his master's horse. After attacking Wesley he returned to his
attack upon Mr. Healey, and was about to finish him with a
knife, ^'swearing desperately that he would cut him up," when
a poor woman went from her hut to his rescue. She was struck
a terrible blow, which ''half killed her," ^ and from which she
afterward died.^ However, she hindered the assailant till other
help arrived. A Mr. Jamison, a Protestant, "ran in with a pitch-
fork and struck the clerk into the shoulder. The bone stopped it.
The man made a second push at him, which was broke by Mr.
Hanby," one of Wesley's company, who ran in and saved his
The hedges were lined with papists, who kept the field till
they saw the dragoons coming out of Athlone. Then they took
to their heels, and Mr. Hanby after them. In the midst of the
bog they seized the priest's servant, carried him prisoner to
Athlone, and charged the high constable with him, who quickly
let him go. A Protestant met him and beat him unmercifully;
but he escaped at last and fled for his life, sorely wounded." ^
When Wesley and his company returned to the place of attack,
they found Jonathan Healey in a hut where a woman and her
husband had carried him. They got him to Athlone, where his
wounds were dressed by a surgeon, who would take no fee for
his labor. At Athlone, Tyerman says, ''A congregation of
above two thousand assembled in the market. Charles Wesley
preached to them from the windows of a ruined house; and
then the knot of brave-hearted Methodists marched to the field
of battle, stained with Healey's blood, and sang a song of
triumph and of praise to God." ^
*Charles Wesley, Journal, February lo, 1748.
'Ibid., September 24, 1748.
•Ibid., February 10, 1748.
"Tyerman, Life and Times of John Wesley, vol. ii, p. 2.
PERILS OF LAY PREACHERS IN IRELAND 109
Persecution seems to have been very bitter at this time in
different parts of Ireland. Mr. Crookshank quotes Wesley in
1750 as saying: 'That any of the Methodist preachers are alive
is a clear proof of an overruling Providence, for we know not
where w^e are safe. A week or two ago, in a time of perfect
peace, twently people assaulted one of our preachers near Limerick.
He asked their captain what they intended to do. He calmly
answered, To murder you,' and, accordingly, presented a pistol,
which snapped twice or thrice." This was Mr. Michael Fen-
wick, 'Svho then rode away. The others pursued and fired after
him, but could not overtake him. Three of his companions they
left for dead." ^
Mr. Thomas Walsh was one of the early Irish converts to
Methodism. Not long after his conversion he began to preach,
and became one of the most earnest and consecrated itinerants.
Robert Southey says of him, "The life of Thomas Walsh might
almost convince a Catholic that saints are to be found in other
communions as well as in the Church of Rome." ^^ However,
his saintliness did not save him from hardships. His biographer,
James Morgan, says that opposition was so violent at times that
nothing ''less than taking away his life was designed." He adds :
"It may, perhaps, be tedious to enumerate all the instances. The
following I set down abridged from his journal." ^^
On January 4, 1750, he set out for Roscrea. About a mile
from the town he met a company of men armed with clubs.
Seventy men had been sworn on this occasion. At the first
sight of them young Walsh was a little daunted, but he prayed,
and was strengthened. He argued with them, and they con-
sented to let him go on condition that he "swear never more to
come to Roscrea." When he refused to promise they threatened
to put him in a well, and hurried him into the town, where he
®C. H. Crookshank, History of Methodism in Ireland, vol. i, p. 74.
"'Robt. Southey, Life of Wesley, vol. ii, p. 283.
"James Morgan, Life of Thos. Walsh, p. ']:>3\ this is reproduced in
Jackson's Lives, vol. iii.
no EARLY ^lETHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
was surrounded ''as by so many human wolves." Now the mob
disagreed among themselves, so he was allowed to go.^^
In June, 1750, he went to a town in the county of Cork,
and about twenty miles from that city. He began to preach in
the open under a tree. Being forbidden, he selected as his text,
Job 21. 3: "Suffer me that I may speak; and after that I have
spoken, mock on." The magistrate's sergeants, being astonished
at the text, permitted him to finish. ^^
On his return into the town, however, he was seized by the
officers and taken before the magistrate, who was a Mr. Ellis,
and was also the rector of the parish. He let the preacher know
that unless he would promise to preach no more in that town he
would be committed to prison without delay. Mr. Walsh asked,
"Are there no swearers, drunkards, Sabbath-breakers, and the
like in these parts?" "Being answered, 'There are,' he added,
*If after he had preached there a few times, there appeared to be
no reformation for the better amongst them, he would never come
thither more.' " This challenge, however, was not taken, and
he was ordered to prison. He preached from the windows of his
cell to the people, who generally sympathized with him, and who
provided him with bed and provisions. "It was not long before
the magistrate sent to let him go." ^*
At a later date at Newtown, while he was at prayer on the
church-green a mob of several hundred assembled. They caught
him by the breast and pulled him violently to the ground. They
dragged him through the mob and nearly choked him.^^
Escaping from the mob, he went to another place to preach
to the people, who were anxious to hear. But here he was
attacked again, and compelled to retire. He then went to a little
house at some distance in a garden, but again was obliged to flee.
This time to escape his pursuers he made his way through wet
"Jackson's Lives, vol. iii, p. 91 ; also Coke and Moore, Life of
Wesley, p. 301.
'^Jackson's Lives, vol. iii, pp. 96ff.
'"Ibid., vol. iii, pp. gSfi. ; also John Wesley, Journal, July 26, 1756.
PERILS OF LAY PREACHERS IN IRELAND iii
meadows, and then climbed over the mountains till he reached
the house of a friend, who cared for his wants. However, his
tender constitution could not stand the strain and exposure, and
in a few days he was obliged to take to his bed and was con-
fined with a fever for some time.^^
His energy and earnestness aroused the activities of the
Catholic priests. His name was known in all their churches, and
wherever it was at all probable that he would preach the priests
endeavored to render him as obnoxious to the people as possible.
Yet they themselves carefully avoided a debate with him. One
priest assured his people "that he had been servant boy to a
certain priest; and that having stolen his master's books, he
learned to preach by that means." Another vehemently ex-
claimed, "As for that Walsh, who had some time before turned
heretic, and went about preaching, he had been dead long ago;
and that he, who then preached in this manner, was but the
devil in his shape." ■^'^
About 1752 Mr. John Edwards was preaching in and about
Dublin. "It was a time of great persecution. The rage of the
adversary was often so violent as to place his life in the most
imminent danger." At one time, as he was returning to the city
from preaching in a neighboring village, the Ormond mob recog-
nized him as "swaddling John," and declared their intention of
throwing him over the bridge into the Liffey. This was ob-
served by the Liberty mob on the opposite side of the river.
They immediately encountered his assailants, rescued him out of
their hands, and took him home in triumph, saying that "he was
their swaddling John, for he lived on their side of the river, and
none should hurt him." ^^
At another time, after preaching in the open, the "White
Boys" beset the house to which he had gone, and threatened to
burn it to the ground, unless he were turned out. Consequently,
he was let down in a basket through a rear window, which
^^Jackson's Lives, vol. iii, pp. gSff.
"Ibid., vol. iii, pp. loiff.
"Life of Countess of Huntingdon, vol. ii, p. 152.
112 EARLY METHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
opened into the garden of a justice of the peace who himself
was "a bitter persecutor of the Methodists." Not knowing
what else to do, he knocked boldly at the door of the magistrate,
stated his circumstances, and appealed to his generosity for pro-
tection. His appeal had its desired, though unexpected, effect.
The magistrate protected him, and entertained him hospitably
for two days in his home.^^
On one occasion some soldiers, who had been brought under
his influence, were removed to another town, and they invited
him thither to preach. He complied, but when about a mile or
two from the town, the soldiers met him, and advised him with
grief, that because of the **cruel threatenings of the people
against his life," if he preached, they would not answer for his
safety. Undismayed, however, he preached in the street. Among
his audience were several persons of distinction, who by their
presence and respectful behavior prevented any disturbance.
After the service the mayor invited him to breakfast with several
of the principal inhabitants, and told him that they were glad
he had come; that the people were extremely dissolute in their
manners, and the clergy, both Protestant and Catholic, were
exceedingly remiss in their duty, and they hoped the Methodists
would succeed in their endeavors to reform the town.^^
At Derg-bridge, in 1772, a Mr. Brown was assaulted while
preaching. One man was sent to "pull the fellow down. . . .
He looked ! he listened ! and returned, saying, 'I will not, for he
is a pretty man, and is preaching the word of God.' " A more
savage man then advanced and asked some questions. The
answers not satisfying him, a struggle ensued. The lights were
extinguished, and in the darkness Mr. Brown escaped through a
In 1773, "when Mr. John Smith was riding within two or
three miles of Killashandra, he was met by a minister, who, in a
most insulting manner, said to him, 'How dare you go about
^'"'Life of Countess of Huntingdon, vol. ii, p. 153.
"'Arminian Magazine, 1784, p. 578.
PERILS OF LAY PREACHERS IN IRELAND 113
preaching, frightening the whole country out of their senses,
and thinning my congregations?'" ''To which the evangehst
repHed that instead of turning the brains of the people, he only
endeavored to turn their hearts to the Lord, thus teaching them
true wisdom." Upon this ''the minister in a rage called him a
scoundrel and a canting rascal and horsewhipped him unmerci-
On March 4, 1773, "Mr. John MacBurney was invited to
preach at Mr. Perry's within a few miles of Enniskillen. In the
evening while the congregation was singing a hymn, a large mob
beset the house. Six of these rushed in armed with clubs, and
immediately fell upon the people. But many of them joining
together, thrust the rioters out, and shut and fastened the door.
On this they broke every pane of glass in the windows, and
threw in a large quantity of stones. They then broke into the
house through a weak part of the wall, and hauling out both men
and women, beat them without mercy. Soon after they dragged
out Mr. MacBurney, whom they instantly knocked down. They
continued beating him on the head and breast while he lay sense-
less on the ground. Yet, after a while, coming a little to himself,
he got up; not being quite sensible, he staggered and fell again.
Then one of them set his foot upon his face, swearing, 'he would
tread the Holy Ghost out of him.' Another ran his stick into
his mouth. As soon as he could speak he said, 'May God forgive
you, I do.' They then set him on his horse, and one of the
ruffians got up behind him and forced him to gallop down the
rocky mountain to the tow^n. There they kept him till a gentle-
man took him out of their hands, and entertained and lodged him
in the most hospitable manner. But his bruises, on the head and
breast particularly, would not suffer him to sleep. After lingering
a few^ years, he died at Clones, in consequence of this treat-
^'C. H. Crookshank, History of Methodism in Ireland, vol. i, p. 269.
"^Coke and Moore, Life of John Wesley, pp. 305ff. ; also John Wesley,
Journal, May 24, 1773; also C. H. Crookshank, History of Methodism in
Ireland, vol. i, pp. 271 ff.
114 EARLY METHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
In 1779 ]\Ir. William Myles, who later wrote a Chrono-
logical History of Methodism, was en route to Kirkeel. When
near the place some friends met him with the information that
a mob was waiting to apprehend him and send him on board a
tender that was lying in the harbor, it being in time of war.
However, knowing himself innocent of any crime, he went for-
ward. The mob only stared at him and allowed him to pass.
But in the evening they surrounded the house where he was
preaching. But the preacher escaped without injury.
On another occasion he was at Dromore, and preached in
the street. An excise officer went out of a public house, where
he had been drinking, and swore that he would kill him. He
drew a sword out of his cane and made a thrust at him, but the
innkeeper, perceiving his intention, struck his arm and broke the
blow. Mr. Myles exhorted the congregation to peace and finished
When Mr. James Hall was on the Athlone Circuit, in 1779
or 1780, he was informed that the preacher "in the next circuit
had been used exceedingly ill, and that his life was in danger by
the injuries he had received from a set of ruffians." He went
over to see him, and found him recovering, though he was
scarcely able to walk. "His hair had been torn off his head by
handfuls, and his right arm and leg were dreadfully bruised by
the blows he had received," the effects of which he must feel "to
the day of his death." ^^ Mr. Hall received the following account
of the occurrence:
A justice of the peace, who could not prevail upon his wife
and daughter to forsake the Methodists, determined to resort
to other measures. Consequently, "he hired twenty-four papists,
and divided them into three companies ; these were stationed upon
the three roads leading to the place where our friend was to
preach, in order to waylay him. They had proper instructions
for their proceedings from their inhuman master.^^
"Methodist Magazine, 1797, pp. 26iff.
^''Account of James Hall, pp. 55ff. ; Tyerman Collection of Pamphlets,
vol. ccxxxiv. '*Ibid.
PERILS OF LAY PREACHERS IN IRELAND 115
"The preacher was unapprised of any danger till he found
himself surrounded by eight ruffians, who instantly knocked him
off his horse, and beat him most cruelly with their knotted sticks
for some time. They then produced a book, and insisted that
the preacher should swear upon it that he never would preach
in that place any more. This he could not with a good conscience
agree to. The papists then drew their knives, swearing 'they
would cut the heart out of his body.' They tore and cut his
clothes all to pieces, and when they had stripped him stark-naked,
except only a part of one of his boots, they dragged him by the
hair of his head down a field into a pond of water, beating him
with their sticks all the way, and there left him to perish. . . .
When the preacher recovered his senses he found himself naked
and sorely wounded; but by the good providence of God he was
enabled to crawl to a friend's house about the distance of two
miles from the place where he had suffered these cruelties." ^^
The wounded preacher told Mr. Hall that he had a large
congregation and a lively society, and requested him to preach to
them, as he himself could not. This Mr. Hall agreed to do.
He says : "Accordingly at the time appointed I went there with
the intention of spending two days among them. The first
evening we met with no interruption, but the next day as we were
upon the road three savages, vulgarly called gentlemen, with
their footmen, suddenly surrounded us. One part of them rushed
upon a young man, a volunteer, who was one of our company
and took his sword and pistols from him. Another part of the
gang fell upon two young men, farmer's sons, but they escaped
into a house, and there secured themselves. One of the gentle-
men, who had got the pistols from the volunteer, then rode up
to me, insisting that I should promise to go about my business,
and never return to preach at that place any more. I answered
'that we could not enter into any such engagement, so long as
we regarded the salvation of our souls or that of others.' He
then swore that he would instantly lodge the contents of the
"Account of James Hall, pp. 55ff. ; Tyerman Collection of Pamphlets,
ii6 EARLY METHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
pistol in my body. I replied 'that I knew there were two balls in
that pistol, but if I could not preserve my life without sinning
against my conscience, he might fire when he pleased, for I was
not in the least afraid to die.' He then cocked the pistol and
presented it to my breast, swearing he would shoot me dead
upon the spot. I opened my bosom to receive the discharge,
which I expected every moment. The gentleman, finding that I
was not to be terrified with his threats, then took the sword, and
lifting it up to heaven, swore by the eternal God that he would
split me in two ; and immediately made a stroke at me. But the
glittering of the sword frightened my horse, and he gave a spring
at that moment, which probably saved my life. I felt the sword
glaze upon my back, but the saddle received the blow.^^
Mr. Hall then began to reason with him on the injustice and
cruelty of his conduct. He tried to show him that it was his
duty to protect strangers, rather than to assassinate them. He
insisted upon being taken before a magistrate; that, if he was
guilty of any wrong, he should be sent to prison. They agreed
and started for a magistrate. On the way they noticed a number
of men planting potatoes. The gentlemen called to them to
bring their forks and spades and beat the preacher. The poor
wretches readily obeyed, and ''sprang over the ditch as fierce
as tigers." But Mr. Hall informed them that he was a licensed
preacher, and that, if any assaulted him, they must expect to be
punished according to law. At this the men were confounded,
and stood gaping and staring at one another. The gentlemen
with vociferations and execrations tried to persuade them to fall
upon their victims. Failing in this, they began to beat the poor
men, who "were glad to throw down their working tools and
scamper over the ditch as fast as possible to save their own
They had another argument then, and the preacher per-
suaded the assailants that it was worse than a heathen to con-
'"Account of James Hall, pp. 55ff.
PERILS OF LAY PREACHERS IX IRELAND 117
demn a man unheard. They then swore that "they would go and
hear what the honest black devil had to say." On the road two
of the gentlemen saw their mother approaching, who was anxious
for the consequences, should they injure the preacher. They
exclaimed, ''We shall break her heart," and left the preacher and
his company to themselves.^^
He went on and met the congregation, which was very large
and greatly excited, for they had heard of what had happened.
After preaching to the people the society entreated them with
m.any tears not to forsake them.^^
They endeavored to take the matter into the courts, and to
secure the arrest of the persecutors, but finally by the advice of
the injured preacher, who feared that because of complications
nothing could be done, the matter was dropped.
** Account of James Hall, pp. ^5ff.
VIOLENCE IN IRELAND
The first Methodist Society in Ireland was organized in
1746, by Mr. Thomas WiUiams.^ In 1747 John Wesley visited
the island and remained from the 9th to the 23rd of August.
On the 9th he preached at Saint Mary's Church, Dublin. The
next morning he visited the curate of the church, who com-
mended his sermon of the previous day in strong terms, and
begged that he might see him again the next morning. At the
same time, however, the curate expressed ''the most rooted
prejudice against lay preachers, or preaching out of a church,
and said the Archbishop of Dublin was resolved to suffer no
such irregularities in his diocese." On the nth Wesley waited
upon the Archbishop at Newbridge, ten miles from Dublin, with
whom he spent two or three hours, and answered many objections.
On Sunday, the i6th, as he left the choir of Christ Church,
where he attended, he observed nearly the whole congregation
drawn up in rows in the body of the church from one end to
the other, who stared at him as he passed out among them, but
scarcely any spoke either good or bad.^ At his preaching services
he had large congregations. Returning to England, at Garth
Wesley met his brother going to Ireland.
Charles Wesley landed at Dublin September 9, 1747, and
remained in the country till March 20, 1748.^
As in England, mobs were common in Ireland. It was not
difficult, therefore, to direct their attacks against the Methodists,
or against any other society that might meet with popular dis-
favor. Charles Wesley, who, as we have seen, spent over six
'Tyerman, Life and Times of John Wesley, vol. i, pp. 556fif.
*John Wesley, Journal, August pff., 1747.
^Charles Wesley, Journal, September 9, 1747.
VIOLENCE IN IRELAND 119
months in Ireland, exclaimed, *'Woe is me now, for my soul is
wearied because of murders, which this city [Dublin] is full
of ! " He adds : "The Ormond mob and liberty mob seldom part
till one or more are killed. A poor constable was the last whom
they beat and dragged about till they had killed him, and then
hung him up in triumph. None was called in question for it,
but the earth covered his blood. Last week a woman was beaten
to death by the rabble, but that was all fair, for she was caught
picking a pocket: so there is an end of her." He then adds,
"No wonder if in such a place there should be no justice for
Christians ! " * Under these conditions it is not surprising that
there was trouble for the Methodists.
As is noticed, John Wesley left the island on August 23,
1747. Rioting against the Methodists began at Dublin on the
following Sunday, August 30. "A mob of papists and Prot-
estants assaulted the house where the society was met after
evening service. They met them going out with sticks and
stones, knocked down several, both men and women, and beat
them in a barbarous manner. Some escaped the back way;
others retreated to the house and shut the door. The mob broke
it open, and another inward door, tore down the desk and forms,
carried two large counters, chairs, and part of the wainscoting
into the street, and openly burnt all but what they stole." ^
"There was a warehouse over the preaching-room, which
they broke open and ransacked. Above one hundred pounds
worth of goods they seized as lawful prize, and committed the
rest to the flames.^
"They have often threatened our lives. Mr. Paterson they
knocked down, and cut in several places while on the ground;
then threw him into a cellar, and cast stones on him. Mrs.
Young and many others were treated in the same manner. Half-
hour past nine the mayor came with his guard, and saw with his
"Charles Wesley, Journal, September 15, 1747; also C. H. Crookshank,
History of Methodism in Ireland, vol. i, pp. I7ff.
^Charles Wesley, Journal, September 17, 1747.
120 EARLY METHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
own eyes the havoc the mob had made. He readily granted
warrants to apprehend them. Some of the poorest, papists mostly,
were sent to Newgate; but the better sort made a mock of his
authority, and walked about the town from alehouse to alehouse
with the constables, whom by drink and money they had secured
of their party." "^
The trial of the persecutors did not take place till after the
arrival of Charles Wesley in Ireland. On September 17 he
heard that the grand jury had thrown out the bill.^ On the
19th he dined at Mr. Aggit's and found him ''full of indignation
at the injustice of the jury," and not without reason, for this
miscarriage of justice exposed the Methodists to the unrelenting
fury of the mobs.^ Mr. Crookshank tells us that in a letter to
John Wesley Mr. John Trembath, the stationed preacher, says
"that all the city w^as in an uproar; the lives of the Methodists
were in imminent peril; some of the citizens said it was a shame
to treat them thus, and others that the dogs deserved to be
hanged, and the magistrates refused to interfere." ^^ And Coke
and Moore, quoting from this same letter adds: "We were like
sheep driven by the wolf into the fold. When we went out we
carried our lives in our hands." ^^ And, indeed, it was so. "A
poor, weakly man, of Mr. Cennick's society was so abused by his
neighbor, who knocked him down, and stamped upon his stomach,
that he died soon after. The murderer was indeed brought to a
trial, but acquitted as usual." ^^
During Charles Wesley's stay in Dublin he was frequently
insulted by mobs. On September 23 he heard that on the pre-
vious Sunday, after he had gone, a Catholic mob fell upon the
women, but were beaten off by the soldiers. ^^ On the 28th the
landlady nailed up their preaching place, which cost them a day
"Charles Wesley, Journal, September 17, 1747.
"Ibid., September 17, 1747.
^'Ibid., September 19, 1747.
^"C. H. Crookshank, History of Methodism in Ireland, vol. i, p. 18,
"Coke and Moore, Life of John Wesley, p. 288.
"Charles Wesley, Journal, September 15, 1747.
"Ibid., September 23, 1747.
VIOLENCE IN IRELAND 121
of time before they could open it.^* On October 30 they were
stoned for the length of a street or two. At this time Wesley
received his first blow after arriving in Dublin. ^^ On November
12, upon hearing that the minister had procured a mob to hinder
their preaching, Wesley would not allow any of the preachers
or people to expose themselves at Hanbury-lane. At night,
however, the mob, having waited in vain for them till then, broke
into the house and took possession of it.^^ Wesley said that in
Dublin there were very many who longed to hear the word but
were kept away by fear. He adds : "Neither is their fear ground-
less, for unless the jury find the bill against the rioters, murder
there will surely be; and if it begin, it will not end with us." ^"^
In June, 1752, a large mob assaulted the new preaching-
house at Dublin, and did considerable damage. ^^ The rioters
were arrested but were acquitted by a packed jury. Ten or
eleven of the jurors were Catholics, and these frightened the
other so that he did not contradict. ^^ The arrest, however, of
itself seemed to have a wholesome effect, as it struck terror into
the hearts of the mob. The Methodists were then permitted to
walk through the principal streets of Dublin unmolested.^^
Another terrible riot occurred here on Sunday, July 3, 1757,
at which time Whitefield suffered severely at the hands of a
brutal rabble. 2^
During part of 1749 and 1750 Cork experienced brutal and
inhuman riots. These outrages were led by a vagabond ballad
singer, Nicholas Butler by name, who seemed so utterly depraved
as to delight in the most brutal outrages. In Ireland the Meth-
odists were called swaddlers from one of the preachers using the
"Charles Wesley, Journal, September 28, 1747.
"Ibid., October 30, 1747.
^^Ibid., November 12, 1747; also above, p. 107.
"John Wesley, Works, Letter to E. Blackwell, September 17, 1747.
^^John Wesley, ■ Letter to Ebenezer Brackwell, July 20, 1752.
^^John Wesley, Journal, July 20, 1752.
*°John Wesley, Works, Letter to E. Blackwell.
"C. H. Crookshank, History of Methodism in Ireland, vol. i, p. 119:
also above, pp. 59ff.
122 EARLY METHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
text, which speaks of the Babe wrapped in "swaddhng clothes."
Butler and his mob seemed to have been commissioned to drive
the "swaddlers" out of Cork, by means as foul as his brutal
nature could devise.^^ He dressed himself *'in a parson's gown
and bands, and with a Bible in one hand and a bundle of ballads
in the other, he went through the street, singing ballads and
selling ^doggerel rhymes, stuffed with the vilest lies respecting
the Methodists.' " ^^ By this means he aroused the people to
follow and support him in deeds of violence. Fortunately, how-
ever, by the time of these outbreaks, Methodism had become so
thoroughly established and fortified that it passed through this
persecution with but little loss.
In August, 1748, Charles Wesley says: "Much good has
been done in this place. Outward wickedness has disappeared,
outward religion succeeded. Swearing is seldom heard on the
streets ; the churches and altars are crowded, to the astonishment
of our adversaries. Yet some of our clergy, and all of the
Catholic priests, take wretched pains to hinder their people from
hearing us." ^* A few days later he was "set upon in the street
by a Romish priest for words, which he was told one of our
preachers spoke against him." Wesley tried to undeceive him,
but without success. The next day he defended the Methodists
"from that slander that they rail against the clergy." ^^ On
September 5 "innumerable stories are invented to stop the work,
or rather repeated, for they are the same we have heard a
thousand times. . . . All manner of wickedness is acted in our
society, except the eating of little children." ^^ On the 13th he
adds: "I marvel not that Satan hates us. We never meet but
some or other is plucked out of his teeth." ^"^
Just when the riots broke out at Cork is not given. How-
"John Wesley, Journal, May 25, 1750,
^'Tyerman, Life and Times of John Wesley, vol. i, p. ZT-
"Charles Wesley, Journal, August 21, 1748.
"Ibid., August 27, 1748.
^"Ibid., September 5, 1748.
"Ibid., September 13, 1748.
VIOLENCE IN IRELAND 123
ever, Mr. John Gaulter says that in November, 1748, Mr. Crown-
ley went there ''where he preached at the peril of his life." ^^
On May 3, 1749, while going down the street, Elizabeth Holleran
saw Nicholas Butler on a table with the Bible in one hand and
ballads in the other. ^^ She expressed some concern thereat, where-
upon Sheriff Reilly ordered his bailiff to take her to the bridewell.
Afterward she was taken to prison, where she remained from
eight o'clock in the evening of the 3rd till twelve o'clock on the
5th.^^ On the same day Butler and his mob assembled before
the house of Thomas Jones, a merchant. And in the evening
they went to the house where the Methodists were holding
service, and as the people were leaving they threw dirt and hurt
several of them.
On May 4 Thomas Jones with some others went to the
mayor, told him what had been done, and asked him to stop the
rioting. He gave his word and honor that "there should be no
more of it." However, that same night a larger mob than ever
went to the house where the Methodists were, threw dirt and
stones at the people while they were in the house, and when they
went out fell upon both men and women with dirt, stones, clubs,
hangers, and swords, so that many were considerably wounded.
The next day Mr. Jones went again to the mayor, and told
him of what had happened on the previous night, and that
Butler had declared that on this night there should be a greater
^^Jackson's Lives, vol. ii, p. 11.
'^NoTE — This account is taken largely from the works of John Wesley.
He was at Cork before the riots began, passed through the city during the
riots, and visited the place immediately after the disturbances were ended. His
account is a copy of depositions by Methodist laymen who had suffered at
the hands of the mob. For other accounts the reader is referred to William
Myles, Chronological History of People Called Methodists, pp. 62ff. ; Coke
and Moore, Life of John Wesley, pp. 29off. ; Tyerman, Life and Times of
John Wesley, vol. ii, pp. 37&, 8off. ; C. H. Crookshank, History of Methodism
in Ireland, vol. i, pp. 5iff. ; William Smith, History of Methodism in Ireland,
pp. ipff. ; and Methodist Magazine, 1812, pp. 44ff. or 26ff. This author's
wife was a girl in Cork at the time of the persecutions.
'"John Wesley, Works, Letter to Rev. Mr. Baily. The description of the
events which follows is taken from this source.
124 EARLY METHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
mob than ever. Again the mayor promised to prevent it, and
again the mob assembled and beat and abused the people so that
they were covered with dirt and blood. John Stockdale, seeing
his wife on the ground and the mob abusing her, entreated them
not to kill her. Then one of them beat him with a large stick,
as they did many others, so that he was hurt in several places,
and *'his face a gore of blood." Mr. Jones took the mayor to the
place, w^here he saw "many of the people covered with dirt and
blood." There were still some of the people remaining in the
house, who were driven out to the mob in the presence of the
mayor, by two sheriffs and an alderman, who then nailed up the
doors of the house.
From the 6th to the i6th of May the mob assembled every
day but one before the home of Daniel Sullivan, a baker, and
abused all who went to his shop, to the great damage of his
business. On the i6th Butler took a large mob and abused all
that went to the house, and the mayor walked by while he was
doing this, but did not hinder him. The mob afterward broke
his windows, and threw dirt and stones into his shop, and spoiled
a large quantity of his goods. Also, from the i6th to the 28th
the mob assembled every day before this house. On the 28th
Butler swore that they would come the next day and "pull down
the house of that 'heretic dog,' and called aloud to the mob, 'Let
the heretic dogs indict you: I will bring you all off without a
farthing cost ! '"
Accordingly, the mob assembled. Mr. Sullivan went to the
mayor, who, after much urging, walked with him down the
street. But "when they were in the midst of the mob, the mayor
said aloud : Tt is your own fault for entertaining these preachers.
If you will turn them out of your house, I will engage there
shall be no more harm done; but if you will not turn them out,
you must take what you will get.' " After further, but futile
conversation, the mayor told him that the Methodists were not
tolerated, and advised him to go into his house and shut the
doors. This he did, but the mob continued to break his win-
dows and throw stones till near midnight.
VIOLENCE IN IRELAND 125
On May 31 the mob assembled before the Methodist preach-
ing house and threw dirt and stones into the house, which obhged
the congregation to lock themselves in. The mob then broke
down the doors, and, as the people were going out, hurt, beat,
bruised, or cut many of them so that they bled profusely. Mr.
Sullivan had gone to the mayor seeking his protection, which he
again declined to give, though he saw passing by him some that
had been bruised and wounded. Later the mob tore up the
benches, pews, and floor of the meeting house, burned part of
it in the street, and carried away the remainder. After this
damage was done the mayor sent a party of soldiers to guard
These riots continued all through the month of June. How-
ever, now the mob seems to have gone from house to house. On
the 1 2th Ann Cooshea, while at her father's house, was called a
vile and vulgar name, and struck on the head with a stone and
rendered senseless for some time; Ann Wright was struck in
the face with a stone, and fled from her own home, leaving the
goods of her shop to be spoiled; Thomas Burnet, while at work
in his master's shop, was struck on the side with a stone which
disabled him for more than a week, and his wife, without any
provocation, was struck so severely that she was obliged to take
to her bed, and a year later she had not fully recovered.
"Margaret Griffin, of Cork, deposes, that on the 24th of
June, as this deponent was about her business, Butler and his
mob came up, took hold on her, tore her clothes, struck her
several times, and cut her mouth ; that after she broke from him,
he and his mob pursued her to her house, and would have broken
in had not some neighbors interposed: that he had beat and
abused her several times before, and one of those times to such
a degree, that she was all in a gore of blood, and continued
spitting blood for several days after." On this same day Jacon
Conner was beaten till a gentleman interposed.
On the 29th Ann Hughes asked Butler why he had broken
open her house on the 21st. Thereupon he called her many
abusive names, being attended by his mob, dragged her up and
126 EARLY IMETHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION"
down, tore her clothes, and with his sword stabbed and cut both
her arms. On the same day and the day following the mob
assaulted the house of Daniel Flint with drawn swords. He
believed that had not some one interfered, he would have been
On the 30th the mob attacked Mary Fuller, a widow, at
her shop, and threatened her life. She fled from them, leaving-
her goods in their hands, many of which they destroyed. They
also assaulted the shop of Margaret Trimmell, bruised her arm
with a club, drew their swords and threatened her life, cut her
goods, threw some into the street, carried some away, and threw
dirt and stones into her shop.
The Methodists, finding that it was useless to attempt to
oppose Butler through the magistrates, patiently submitted to
suffer whatever he and his mob might choose to inflict upon them
till the time for the court to convene. They hoped through this
to receive relief. Consequently, twenty-eight depositions were
drawn up, from which the above is taken, and laid before the
grand jury, August 19. But they did not find any one of these
bills. Instead of this, they made that "memorable presentment"
as follows : "We find and present Charles Wesley to be a person
of ill fame, a vagabond, and a common disturber of his Majesty's
peace; and we pray he may be transported." And the same
presentment was found against James Williams, Robert Swindle,
Jonathan Reeves, James Wheatley, John Larwood, Joseph
M'Auliff (which is said to be a mistake for Joseph Crownley),
Charles Skelton, William Tooker, and Daniel Sullivan. These
were all preachers except Daniel Sullivan, who was a respectable
citizen. His crime was that he had received the preachers into
Butler and his mob were now in high spirits. They paraded
the streets day and night, "frequently hallooing as they went
along, 'Five pounds for a Swaddler's head!'" Butler declared
''John Wesley, Journal, August 19, 1749; William Myles, Chronological
History of Methodism, pp. 68ff.
VIOLENCE IN IRELAND 127
to them all that "he had full liberty now to do whatever he
would even to murder, if he pleased." ^^
The court that convened at Cork on October 5 produced
another ''memorable presentment" : "We find and present John
Horton to be a person of ill fame, a vagabond, and a common
disturber of his Majesty's peace; and we pray that he may be
transported." Complaint was made that this presentment was
wholly illegal, and it was dropped.
Shortly after this Butler went to Dublin and tried to sing
his ballads there, but having little success, he returned to Cork.
In January, 1750, he began to "scour the streets again," pursuing
the Methodists with a large mob at his heels, who were "armed
with swords, staves, and pistols." Again complaint was made to
the mayor, and again "the riots were not suppressed; nay, they
not only continued but increased." ^^
On February 23 Butler and his mob assaulted the home of
William Jewell, a clothier. They beat his wife and broke the
windows of his house. On the 26th the mob went to the home
of Mary Phillips, whom they abused "in the grossest terms," and
then struck her a blow on the head, which stunned her. And on
the 28th Elizabeth Gardelet, wife of a soldier, as she was going
out of her house was assaulted by Butler and his mob. Butler
struck her on the side of the head with both his fists, which
knocked her against a wall. He then pursued her, and struck
her several times in the face. In her efforts to escape she ran
into a school yard for shelter. At this Butler caught hold of
her, and with a vile epithet, said, "'You stand on consecrated
ground,' and threw her with such force across the lane that she
was driven against the opposite wall. . . . When she had re-
covered herself a little she made the best of her way to her
*^John Wesley, Works, Letter to Rev. Mr. Baily, par. 12.
^^Ibid., pars. 13, 14, and 15.
Note — Whitefield received news on January 3 that Butler was again
"making havoc of the people." He adds, "I have been with some, who will go
to the Speaker of the House of Commons and represent the case." (George
Whitefield, Letter to the Rev. Mr. C, London, January 3, 1750.)
128 EARLY METHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
lodging" ; but Butler "still pursued, and overtook her as she was
going up the stairs. . . . He struck her with his fist on the
stomach, which stroke knocked her down backward," and, "fall-
ing with the small of her back against the edge of one of the
stairs, she was not able to rise again." "Her pains immediately
came upon her, and about two in the morning she miscarried." ^^
Depositions to the above facts were presented to the grand
jury in April, but they did not find cause for any true bill, but
they found a bill against Daniel Sullivan, Jr., for discharging a
pistol without a ball over the heads of the rioters while they were
pelting him with stones.^^
At the session of this court the Methodists appeared who had
previously been indicted as vagabonds. "The preachers assembled
at the house of Mr. Jones, and went from thence in a body to the
court, accompanied by Mr. Jones and other reputable inhabitants.
His Majesty's judge behaved as became him. He inquired where
were the persons presented" as vagabonds. "On their being
pointed out to him, he was for some time visibly agitated, and
unable to proceed. He at length called for the evidence, on
which Butler appeared." ^^ "The judge, looking at him with a
suspicious eye, asked what his calling was. The worthless fellow
hung down his head and sheepishly replied, T sing ballads, my
lord.' ^'^ The judge lifted up his hands in surprise, and said, *Here
are six gentlemen, indicted as vagabonds, and the first accuser
is a vagabond by profession.' A second witness, being called,
was asked the same question. He impudently answered, T am
"'John Wesley, Works, Letter to Rev. Mr. Baily, par. 15; also John
Wesley, Journal, April 14, 1750.
^^^Ibid., par. 16.
""Ibid., par. 17; also Coke and Moore, Life o£ John Wesley, pp. 293!?.
^'NoTE — In the early part of June, 1750, Butler was in Waterford raising
disturbances. (John Wesley, Journal, June 13, 1750.) Here he found others
as brutal as himself. In a brawl with some of these Butler received injuries,
that cost him his right arm. Being thus disabled, the poor, deluded fellow
dragged out the remainder of his life in extreme misery. (William Smith,
History of Methodism in Ireland, p. 34.) He fled to Dublin, and Mr. Taylor,
while there, was informed that "the Methodists supported him, or he might
have famished." (Methodist Magazine, 1812, p. 27 or 45.)
VIOLENCE IN IRELAND 129
an anti-swaddler, my lord.' The judge resented the insolence,
and ordered the buffoon out of court." He declared that it
was an insult to the court to bring such a case before him, and
dismissed the accused. ^^
After this it was supposed that there would be no more dis-
turbances at Cork. However, Wesley was not so sure that the
spirit of persecution could thus easily be quieted. He soon had
occasion to learn that he had rightly judged. On May 19 he
was again in Cork as the guest of Alderman Pembrock. The
next morning, which was Sunday, understanding that the house
where preaching was generally held would not contain the people
that would want to hear him, he preached in the open without
disturbance. He intended to preach here again at five, but there
were rumors of opposition by the mayor, which was confirmed
by two messengers, whom he sent to ask the mayor's consent. ^^
Consequently soon after five he began preaching in the house.
While he was preaching the mayor's drummers and sergeants
went with a mob to the preaching house and drummed till the
end of the service. When Wesley left the house he was immedi-
ately surrounded by the mob. He asked one of the sergeants to
protect him, but received the reply, *'Sir, I have no orders to do
that." He escaped without injury, but "many of the congre-
gation were roughly handled, particularly Mr. Jones, who was
covered with dirt, and escaped with his life almost by miracle."
The mob then carried out the seats and benches, doors and
window and window frames, tore up the floor — indeed, all the
woodwork that remained. Part of this they carried off for their
own use and the rest they burned in the street.^ ^
The next day "from three in the afternoon till after seven
the mob of Cork marched in grand procession," and burned
Wesley in efligy. On Tuesday "the mob and drummers were
moving again between three and four in the morning." That
evening they attacked Mr. Stockdale's house and broke all the
^^Tyerman, Life and Times of John Wesley, vol. ii, p. 40.
^^John Wesley, Works, Letter to the Rev. Mr. Baily, par. 18.
"Ibid., par. 20.
130 EARLY METHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
windows and most of the window frames. The next day they
broke down the boards that he had nailed up at his windows,
destroyed what frames and shutters remained, and damaged a
considerable part of his goods.^^ On Friday and Saturday, as
had occurred for several days, "one Roger O'Ferrall fixed up
an advertisement at the public Exchange, that he was ready to
head any mob in order to pull down any house that should dare
to harbor a Swaddler." On the 30th Wesley was back in Cork
again, and preached to the soldiers at the Barracks. After the
sermon the soldiers conducted him to his lodgings at Alderman
Pembrock's, the mob not molesting.*^
Wesley summarizes these persecutions at Cork as follows :
Do not "continue to put persecution in the place of reason; either
private persecution, stirring up husbands to threaten or beat
their wives, parents their children, masters their servants ; gentle-
men to ruin their tenants, laborers, or tradesmen by turning them
out of their farms or cottages, employing or buying of them no
more because they worship God according to their own con-
science ; or open, barefaced, noonday, Cork persecution, breaking
open the houses of his Majesty's Protestant subjects, destroying
their goods, spoiling or tearing the very clothes from their backs ;
striking, bruising, wounding, murdering them, in the streets;
dragging them through the mire without any regard to age or
sex: not sparing even those of tender years; no, nor women,
though great with child ; but, with more than Pagan or Moham-
medan barbarity, destroying infants that were yet unborn." ^^
All this suffering could have been avoided simply by re-
nouncing Methodism and their faith in the saving grace of God
through Jesus Christ. But this they steadfastly refused to do,
choosing rather to suffer persecution than to offend their con-
sciences, or to neglect what they firmly beheved to be the way
of life, and for the orood of mankind."*^
*'John Wesley, Works, Letter to the Rev. Mr. Baily, pars. 21 and 22.
*^Ibicl., par. 22.
"Ibid., part iii, par. 13.
**Ibid., part i, par. 4.
VIOLENCE IN IRELAND 131
At Waterford, in 1750, a mob pursued the Methodists to
their own doors, and pelted them with dirt and stones.^ ^ Again,
in 1773, a mob of CathoHcs assaulted the Methodists while in
one of their meetings. They knocked down John Christian and
several more, who endeavored to quiet them. But officers inter-
fered, so that in the end the rioters suffered more than the
In the vicinity of Sidare and Knockmanoul lived a barbarous
youth who was fond of violence. He became the leader in his
neighborhood of the persecutors of the Methodists ''and cruelly
maltreated all who came within his reach, not sparing even his
aged mother, whom he dragged out of one of the meetings."
He beat all who dared to interfere with his brutality. During a
service at Knockmanoul, in 1768, this youth ''collected a mob
of about one hundred persons, called loudly for his mother and
sisters, and began to belabor those about the door, breaking the
jawbone of George Magee." This led to resistance which put the
cowardly barbarian and his mob to flight. At Sidare, in 1771,
this young man broke into the house of Mr. Armstrong, where
a prayer-meeting was in progress. He struck several with a
loaded whip, which he carried. Miss Nancy Armstrong, how-
ever, was his chief object of attack, for he accused her of making
his sister a Methodist.^ "^ He struck her a blow on the temple
with his whip, which rendered her senseless for several hours.
Wesley thought that he intended to kill her. From the effects
of that blow she never fully recovered.*^
The Methodists soon observed the cowardice of this youth,
and determined to put an end to his outrages. Hence William
Little, a preacher, went to him and told him that unless he
promised to change his course, he would give him a good thrash-
ing. He not only ceased himself to molest, but used his influence
*^John Wesley, Journal, June 15, 1750.
^^Ibid., April 24, 1773.
*^C. H. Crookshank, History of Methodism in Ireland, vol. i, pp. 2i7ff.
**Ibid. ; also John Wesley, Journal, July 7, 1771.
132 EARLY METHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
now to check other disturbers. Thus peace was restored from
But opposition arose in another quarter. "Several of the
younger members of the Henderson family, at Drumbulcan,
having become Methodists, were very harshly treated by their
parents. They were locked up in their rooms, received but little
food, and were severely beaten, yet persisted in attending the
services. Miss Henderson was obliged to leave home for a
time, and retire to the house of Mr. Little, near Florence Court.
Her father brought a clergyman to reason with her, who failed
to move the young convert." Then the parents tried to drive out
of the community the two preachers who were there, but this
also failed. Finally, however, "Miss Henderson's family were
induced to attend the preaching of the word. Several, if not all,
were brought into the society, and she had the heartfelt satis-
faction of seeing them walk in the ways of the Lord." ^^
Enniskillen and vicinity were also the scene of bitter perse-
cution. In 1 773 Wesley in company with several friends passed
through the town. For the sake of safety they separated into
groups. Wesley escaped without injury, but some of his friends
were not so fortunate. John Smith received "a shower of dirt
and stones," which left him "pretty much daubed and bruised." ^^
At Roosky Wesley received an account of the suffering of
some of his people at Achalun, a village six or seven miles from
Enniskillen. While they were singing a hymn in a private house
a large mob assembled, six of whom rushed into the house,
armed with clubs, and fell upon the people. They were thrust
out and the door fastened. Whereupon they broke every pane
of glass in the windows, and threw in a large quantity of stones.
They then broke through a weak part of the wall, and hauled out
both men and women, whom they beat without mercy. ^^
The Methodists secured warrants for the arrest of six of
"C. H. Crookshank, History of Methodism in Ireland, vol. i, pp. 2i7ff.
"•Ibid., p. 218.
'''John Wesley, Journal, May 24, 1773.
VIOLENCE IN IRELAND 133
the rioters, but the constable would not take them, and shortly
after the grand jury threw out all the bills. After this a Meth-
odist preacher could not pass through the Protestant town of
Enniskillen without endangering his life.^^
In time, however, all this bitterness passed away. In 1787
Wesley preached in the market house at Enniskillen, "formerly
a den of lions," but now the people "flocked together from every
part and were all attention." ^*
At Tonyloman two members of the society were so severely
beaten that they died from the effects. This, however, attracted
public attention, and the perpetrators of the outrage were arrested
at the instigation of the local magistrate.^^
The above are a few examples of what those of Ireland
suffered who desired to cast in their lots with the Methodists.
Crookshank adds: "Almost every hand was lifted against the
Methodists. The aristocracy opposed them ; the clergy both in and
out of the pulpit railed at them ; and the magistrates, in general,
not only denied them a hearing but in some instances were amongst
their most bitter persecutors. The bonds of friendship were sev-
ered ; family ties broken, and young men and women driven from
the homes of their fathers to seek shelter elsewhere. The preachers
especially were the objects of hatred and malignity. In some
instances, brave men armed with guns and bayonets, and carrying
a supply of provisions, escorted the servants of God traveling
byroads in order to escape attacks from lawless mobs. Mr. G.
Irwin, of Magheralough, and others, often thus acted as a body-
guard to the itinerants." ^^
All this they endured for the sake of what they steadfastly
believed. If they had chosen to forsake their faith and the pure
lives which they lived, and had given themselves to blasphemy,
drunkenness, adultery, obscenity, low and vulgar jests, and all
manner of vileness, not a hand would have been lifted against
"C H. Crookshank, History of Methodism in Ireland, vol. i, p. 271.
"John Wesley, Journal, May 30, 1787.
"'C. H. Crookshank, History of Methodism in Ireland, vol. i, p. 268.
'"'Ibid., vol. i, p. 268.
134 EARLY METHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
them.^'^ But they determined in their hearts to Hve pure Hves,
and to teach to others the gospel that had led themselves to
forsake impurity and obscenity, and to seek the pure and the
good. And they counted not their lives dear to themselves, pro-
vided they could thus live nobly, and persuade others to imitate
their examples. Hence they suffered.
"C. H. Crookshank, History of Methodism in Ireland, vol. i, p. 267.
THE PRESS GANGS
In England the eighteenth century was a period of unrest
and turbulence. The century began with danger from the Pre-
tender. In 1688, by the consent and solicitation of the people,
William and Mary came over from Holland and ascended the
English throne, while King James, forsaken even by his own
daughters, fled to France. He, however, still claimed the throne.
He died in 1701, and his claim, therefore, descended to his son,
James Edward. In 171 5, being supported by France, James
Edward made an attempt by force of arms to seize the throne.
This insurrection was speedily suppressed, but the support of
France made the claims of the Pretender a real menace. And,
if at a later time, the old Pretender, as James Edward came to be
called, seemed to become less a source of unrest, his son, Charles
Edward, who came to be known as the young Pretender, was
more determined and active. For several years there were
rumors of another effort to seize the throne, and a corresponding
fear. These suspicions were realized on August 2, 1745, when
Charles landed on the Scottish coast, and called the Jacobites to
his standard. He was not defeated till April 27, 1746, but then
made good his escape back to France, from whence he con-
tinued his efforts to foment an uprising in favor of the Catholic
This dread of the Pretender, together with continental strug-
gles, made necessary a large army, and the magistrates were
enforcing a law, passed in 1706 (4 & 5 x\nne, cap. 21), " 'for the
better recruiting Her JMajesty's Army and ^Marines,' which gave
the power to justices, assisted by their subordinates, *to raise and
levy such able-bodied men, as have not any lawful calling or
136 EARLY ]\IETHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
emplo}aiient or visible means for their maintenance and liveli-
hood, to serve as soldiers.' " ^
Moreover, this danger of the Pretender intensified the feel-
ing against the Methodists, for they were falsely accused of
being disloyal. It was published all over the land that Wesley
w^as a popish emissary in disguise, and a secret supporter of the
Pretender. He tells us at Saint Ives, Cornwall, it was vehemently
asserted of him that he had taken the Pretender with him in the
previous autumn as a Methodist preacher under the name of
John Downes.^ Doubtless masses of the common people, and
perhaps some of the higher classes, believed these idle tales. At
any rate, these were turbulent times for the Methodists. "Knock
their brains out"; "Press them for soldiers," were the common
Another reason for the earnest desire on the part of some to
rid the country of these men was greed. John Nelson declares
that "several ale-house keepers cursed me to my face, and told
me that I ought to be transported, for I preached so much hell
and damnation that I terrified the people so that they durst not
spend sixpence with a neighbor" for intoxicants,^ and Southey
says that the ale-house keepers proposed that "John should be
pressed for a soldier, for as fast as he made converts, they lost
Southey hints at a third reason, which seems to have been a
factor in all the persecutions. He says, "The vicar of Birstal,
which [place] was John Nelson's home and headquarters, thought
it justifiable to rid the parish by any means of a man, who
preached with more zeal and more effect than himself." ^ What-
ever the cause or causes, beginning in 1744, press gangs were
^John Ashton, Social Life in Reign of Queen Anne, p. 401.
This forcing men into military service was called "pressing."
^John Wesley, Journal, April 16, 1744.
^Charles Wesley, Journal, July 18, 1746; also John Nelson, Journal, p. 94.
*Robt. Southey, Life of John Wesley, vol. ii, p. ZT, also John Nelson,
Journal, pp. 104 and 109.
^Robt. Southey, Life of John Wesley, vol. ii, p. zi \ also John Nelson,
Journal, p. 104.
THE PRESS GANGS 137
on the track of the Methodist preachers and of the Methodist
people. Their opponents beheved that, if they could rid the
country by any means of the preachers, Methodism would perish.
Hence the vigor with which they sought the leaders.
The first dated notice of these press-warrants against the
Methodists is from Charles Wesley, who says that in March
magistrates threatened *'to take Daniel Sant, an industrious
founder with four children, whose only crime is that he suffers
the poor people to pray in his house." ^
In April the Rev. Mr. Graves was pressed at Saint Just,
and sent on board a man-of-war, and several of the people,
"who were quiet, industrious men," were pressed by the same
warrant "and taken away from their work, and wives and fami-
lies." "^ In July a poor baker's boy "was taken by his uncle,
dragged away to prison. They kept him a week, and then
brought him before the commissioners, who could find no cause
to punish or detain him," so he was released.^
James Everett says that "the societies for a considerable
distance round Sheffield were thrown into the greatest alarm in
the month of May." Mr. John Downes was pressed, and for
the better security of his person was thrown into Lincoln gaol.^
Mr. Downes was taken at Epworth. He was the man whom the
people of Cornwall suspected to be the Pretender. On May 14
Wesley preached at Epworth, and the constable who took Mr.
Downes was in his congregation.^^ Mr. Downes was released
either the latter part of May or early in June.^^
The case of John Nelson is most widely known, for he
wrote quite a full account of his experience, and published it some
twenty years or more later in his Journal. Robert Southey,
poet laureate of England, as he studied the circumstances of the
^Charles Wesley, Journal, March 19, 1744.
'John Wesley, Works, Account of Samuel Kitchens, par. 2 ; also History
of Methodist People, par. 28.
^Charles Wesley, Journal, July 13, 1744.
^James Everett, History of Methodism in Sheffield, p. 48.
^"John Wesley, Journal, May 14, 1744.
"Charles Wesley, Journal, June 6, 1744.
138 EARLY METHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
impressment, and the spirit of the man, declared that "Jo^^
Nelson had as high a spirit and as brave a heart as ever English-
man was blessed with/' ^^ Surely in every respect Mr. Nelson
showed himself as noble as his persecutors were base, and he
was more than a match for them all in courage and controversy.
Mr. Nelson had been away on a preaching trip, and upon
his return home was told that they were going to press men for
the King's service, and that "several of the ale-house keepers and
clergy had agreed to press" him for one.^^ A little later as he was
at work a man went to him and said that *'he had called at a
public house for a pint of ale, a little way from Birstal, and he
heard the landlord offer to lay five pounds with some that were
drinking that John Nelson would be sent for a soldier before
ten days were passed." The man said to him, *T would have
you take care, for evil is determined against you." Mr. Nelson
replied, "I am not my own, but the Lord's ; he that lays hands on
me will burn his own fingers, and God will deliver me after he
hath tried me." ^^ Wherever he went to preach for ten days
together he was told that the constables had orders to press him.
He himself now felt that trouble was brewing. At night as he
was going to a neighboring town to preach, he was met by one
who told him that the parson and ale-house keepers had agreed
to press him that night and to send him away the next morning;
for the commissioners were to sit at Halifax, and they would
dispatch him before he could get anyone to appear in his behalf.
She said, 'T would have you turn back, for there is one ale-house
keeper that swears he will press you, if his arm rots from his
shoulder." Mr. Nelson replied, "I cannot fear, for God is on my
side, and his word has added strength to my soul this day; and
if I fall into the hands of wicked men, God shall be glorified
thereby, and when he hath proved me in the furnace, he will
bring me forth as gold." Therefore he went on and preached to
''Robt. Southey, Life of John Wesley, vol. ii, p. 38.
'■''John Nelson, Journal, pp. I04ff. The rest of the narrative is taken
from this source except where otherwise indicated.
"Ibid., p. 107.
THE PRESS GANGS 139
a well-behaved congregation according to his appointment.^^
When he had concluded his discourse, Joseph Gibson, a con-
stable's deputy, and an ale-house keeper, who found his craft in
danger, pressed him for a soldier. This was on May 4, 1744.
Mr. Nelson asked by whose order. "He said, several of the in-
habitants of the town, who did not like so much preaching";
and, says Nelson, ''by his own talk it appeared they were those
of his own craft, and the clergyman, who had agreed together." ^^
Mr. Nelson says, *'He caused me to go to the White Hart,
whither Mr. Charlesworth and Mr. Holmes, of Sikehouse, and
several more went with us, and Mr. Charlesworth offered five
hundred pounds bail for me till the next day, but no bail was to
be taken for a Methodist, so called." Consequently, Mr. Nelson
was taken to the constable's house, where he was kept ten hours
before the warrant arrived. Here he and his friends sang a
hymn, prayed together, and parted.
The next morning he went to Birstal to his own home and
changed his clothes, then was taken to Halifax. He was taken
before the commissioners, and as soon as they saw him they
smiled at one another. They ordered the doorkeeper not to let
anyone in, but a friend, Mr. Thomas Brooks, got in, and they
said, 'That is one of his converts." They called Joseph Gibson
and asked, "How many men have you brought?" He said,
"One." "Well, and what have you against him?" "'Why,
gentlemen,' said he, 'I have nothing to say against him, but he
preaches to the people, and some of our townsmen do not like
so much preaching.' " At this the commissioners laughed, and
one of them said that Mr. Nelson was fit to go for a soldier,
where he might have preaching enough. Mr. Nelson said, "Sir,
you ought not to swear." He replied, "Well, you have no license
to preach, and you shall go for a soldier." Mr. Nelson answered,
"Sir, I have surely as much right to preach as you have to swear."
^''John Nelson, Journal, pp. io8ff.
^"Ibid., pp. lopff.; John Wesley, Journal, May 15, 1744; Charles Wesley,
Journal, May 14, 1744.
140 EARLY METHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
The commissioner said to an officer present, "Captain, is he fit
for you?" "Yes," said the captain. "Then take him away." ^''^
Mr. Nelson protested that there were present several of his
neighbors; that the commissioners ought to give him the liberty
of another man, and to hear from these neighbors whether he
was such a man as the warrant mentioned. They replied, "Here
is your minister, one of the commissioners, and he has told us
your character, and we will hear no more."
Then Mr. Brooks laid a petition before them, sent to Mr.
Nelson by "several neighboring gentlemen, which testified that
I had done no evil, but had behaved myself well in my neighbor-
hood, and had always maintained my family very well, and they
desired them to set me at liberty." Mr. Brooks said, "Gentlemen,
you see he is not such a man as is mentioned in the warrant."
They commanded Mr. Brooks to hold his peace, and the minister
falsely accused him of living with a woman of "the worst char-
acter in our town." ^^
Upon this Mr. Nelson said, "Gentlemen, I see there is neither
law nor justice for a man that is called a Methodist; but all is
lawful that is done against me. I pray God forgive you, for you
know not what you do." They replied, "Surely your minister
must be a better judge of you than any other man, and he has
told us enough of you and your preaching." Mr. Nelson asked:
"Mr. C , what do you know of me that is evil ! Whom have
I defrauded! Or where have I contracted a debt that I cannot
pay?" He said, "You have no visible way of getting your living."
"I answered, 'I am as able to get my living with my hands as any
man of my trade in England is, and you know it; and had I not
been at work yesterday, and all the week before.' " To this the
commissioners did not reply, but ordered the captain to take
Afterward several others were taken before the commis-
sioners. Three were condemned to go with Mr. Nelson, and four
"John Nelson, Journal, pp. iioff.
^"Ibid., p. III.
THE PRESS GANGS 141
or five were acquitted. These, however, all had their neighbors
to speak for them.
The prisoners were then guarded to Halifax, where the
keeper would not allow them to be put into his jail, so they were
sent to the officer's headquarters. Here friends went to Mr.
Nelson and sympathized with him as brothers. ^^
At six that evening they left Halifax, and when they reached
Bradford the captain "went and fetched the keeper of the dun-
geon; and said, 'Take this man, and put him into the dungeon;
and take this other along with you.' (A poor harmless man,
all the clothes upon whose back were not worth one shilling:
neither did they lay any thing to his charge, when he was ordered
for a soldier.)"
When they reached the door of the dungeon a soldier "went
to the captain and said, 'Sir, if you will give me charge over Mr.
Nelson, my life for his, he shall be forthcoming in the morning.'
But the captain threatened to break his head, if he spoke about
me any more." ^^
The captain passed by them before they went down into the
dungeon, and Mr. Nelson asked : "Sir, what have I done that I
must go to the dungeon? If you are afraid of me that I should
run away, set a guard over me in a room, and I will pay them."
The captain replied, "My order is to put you in the dungeon."
This dungeon, says Nelson, "stunk worse that a hog-sty, or little
house, by reason of the blood and filth which sink from the
butchers who kill over it."
That night a citizen of Bradford went to the dungeon, and
though he was an enemy of the Methodists, "when he smelt the
ill savor of the place, he said, 'Humanity moves me.' He went
away directly and about eleven came again, and said, T will
assure you I am not in your way of thinking, but for all that, I
have been with your captain, and offered ten pounds bail for
you, and myself as a prisoner, if he would let you lie in a bed but
®John Nelson, Journal, p. 114.
"Ibid., pp. iisff.
142 EARLY METHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
all in vain, for I can get nothing of him but bad words. If a
justice were in town, I would have gone to him, and would soon
have fetched you out, but since it is as it is, I pray God plead
your cause/ "
All that day Mr. Nelson had had neither food nor drink,
except a little tea in the morning. Before going into the dungeon
he desired a little water, but this the captain refused him. In
the evening, about ten o'clock, several of the people went to the
dungeon with candles and food and water, which they gave to
him through a hole in the door. They also took food for the
poor man, who was his companion. Had it not been for their
kindness, he would have suffered hunger, for as soon as the two
men were locked up, the officers went their way, and took no
more thought of them, leaving them without so much as a stone
upon which to sit. When Mr. Nelson had refreshed himself
with food and water, he gave thanks to God, and he and his
company spent ^'almost all night" singing hymns; they without
and he within.
At four o'clock in the morning his wife, who had journeyed
from Birstal, and several others reached the dungeon. They
talked with him through the hole in the door. His wife, who
had two children at home, and soon expected a third, said to him,
*Tear not; the cause is God's for which you are here, and he
will plead it himself. Therefore, be not concerned about me and
the children, for he that feeds the young ravens will be mindful
of us." 21
At five o'clock he was taken out, and the prisoners were
guarded as they marched to Leeds, which they reached about
ten o'clock. Just as church began, the others were ordered to the
ale-house,22 but Mr. Nelson was guarded to jail. Hundreds of
people stood in the street to look at him through the iron grate,
and, he says, were ready to fight about him. Several offered
bail, and Mr. Nelson was told that one hundred pounds, which
"John Nelson, Journal, p. 117.
"Ibid., pp. iiSflF.
THE PRESS GANGS 143
was offered by a stranger, was refused. Here the jailer was
civil. At night about one hundred of his friends visited him
in the jail. They sung a hymn and prayed. Mr. Nelson
gave an exhortation, and they parted. A friend, not willing
that he should lie on stinking straw, sent a bed to the jail for
At five o'clock the next morning he was let out again, and
shortly afterward they started on their march toward York.
Many of his friends went with him for about three miles. When
they left him they were deeply affected, but the captive exhorted
them to "stand fast; in nothing to be terrified by your adver-
They reached York about three o'clock in the afternoon.
Mr. Nelson was taken before several officers, *Svho seemed to
rejoice as men that had taken great spoil, and saluted" him "with
many a grievous oath." Mr. Nelson rebuked them for their
unseemly talk, but they answered, "You must not preach here,
for you are delivered to us for a soldier, and must not talk
to us that are officers. " Mr. Nelson replied, "There is but one
way for you to prevent me." "They said, 'What is that?' " Mr.
Nelson answered, "To swear no more in my hearing." ^^
Then the pressed soldiers were guarded through the city.
Mr. Nelson, of course, was recognized. He says, "The streets
and windows were filled with people, who shouted and huzzaed
as if I had been one that had laid waste the nation." ^^
At the guardhouse the captains cast lots to decide who
should have him. They then offered him money, which he re-
fused. Thereupon he was guarded to prison by a file of mus-
keteers, where he was kept for two nights, and part of three
days, surrounded by exceedingly coarse and blasphemous men.
So, he says, "I had work enough both day and night to reprove
^^John Nelson, Journal, p. 120.
'*Ibid., p. 121.
'''Ibid., p. 122.
144 EARLY METHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
Several of the townspeople visited him, and inquired about
the doctrines of the Methodists. These he explained to them,
whereupon they wished him well and out of the enemy's hands.
They then left him, he says, to his "company of drunkards and
He says, "I may indeed say I have fought with beasts at
York, for so these men live : yet my speaking to them was not in
vain, for they bridled their tongues in my presence after the first
twenty-four hours." ^^
In this prison strangers brought him food. And here he
received another visit from his faithful wife and her friend.
After an affecting interview they wished him a good repose on
his bed of boards and left him for the night. The next morning
they visited him again, took him some food, and encouraged
him to "be strong in the Lord, and not fear them that can kill
the body only." He says, "My heart was rejoiced to see them
so steadfast in the faith."
After this second interview, he was taken to a court-martial,
guarded by a file of musketeers with bayonets fixed. The officers
asked, "What is this man's crime?" The answer was, "This is
that Methodist preacher, and he refuses to take money." The
officers then said to him, "Sir, you need not find fault with us,
for we must obey our orders, which are to make you act as a
soldier; for you are delivered to us, and, if you have not justice
done you, we cannot help it." They offered him some more
money, which he again refused. But instead of punishing him,
they allowed him to go to his quarters. He spent most of this
afternoon in company with his wife and friends till evening
when he went to parade. ^''^
On the following Sunday, by the request of several, Mr.
Nelson preached on the moor to about three hundred persons.
ITe went again in the evening, and found a great company, which,
he l)elieved, consisted of six thousand people. But a great part of
^"John Nelson, Journal, pp. i23ff.
"Ibid., pp. 124-125.
THE PRESS GANGS 145
the soldiers were there almost drunk, who began to quarrel with
the people, so, fearing a disturbance, he withdrew.^^
The next morning Mr. Nelson heard that some clergymen
were with the officers. At night an officer sent for him and said :
"What, you cannot leave off preaching yet; but we must be
blamed about you? But if ever you preach publicly any more,
you shall be severely whipped." Mr. Nelson made no promise,
so was dismissed with many threats.^^ He had promised to go
to Acham, a village about a mile out of York. So the next
evening he went and preached in a field to almost the whole
Shortly after this he met his brother and a friend. How-
ever, he had but a short time with them, for he was soon called
to answer for his preaching. The ensign, having heard that he
had preached, sent for him, and said, " *D — m your blood, sir,
have you been preaching this morning?' " "I told him I had, on
which he swore he would have no preaching nor praying in the
regiment. Then said I, *Sir, you should have no swearing nor
cursing either; for surely I have as much right to pray and
preach as you have to curse and swear.' " ^^
For this offense he was confined again, entering the prison
just as the church service began, and remained for two nights
and nearly three days.^^ On Tuesday he was taken before the
major, who told him that preaching was no crime, and that
when he had done his duty he could preach every night in a
house or any private place out of the town, but he should make
no mobs. Mr. Nelson again was allowed to go to his quarters.^^
On Thursday morning they left York,^* marching through
^^John Nelson, Journal, p. 35.
^^Ibid., p. 136.
^'^Ibid., p. 137.
'^Ibid., p. 138.
^^Ibid., p. 139.
^^Ibid., p. 140.
^*NoTE — The report having been circulated that the army was about to
leave York, many of the people came and said, "We are sorry you are going
so soon from York- But, if you get your liberty, we hope both you and Mr.
146 EARLY METHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
Easingwold, and rested on Sunday at Darlington. Here he was
hectored and tormented in the street by a petty officer, ^^ the one
that had put him in prison at York for preaching. He said to
Mr. Nelson, **I will make you mind your firelock and leave off
your preaching." ^^
On the Monday following the army marched to Durham.
About noon Mr. Nelson went to the Market place, where he met
his friend Westell, who was inquiring for him among the sol-
diers.^''' Mr. Westell informed Mr. Nelson that Wesley would
reach Durham about four o'clock in the afternoon. This was a
Wesley will come, for we have need of such plain dealing, and thousands in
this city would be glad to hear. You see what a populous, wicked place it is.
Pray, do not forget us, but think of us, when you see us not. We expected
some of you two or three years ago, but you had no regard for our souls
till God brought you by force. Surely, you were not sold hither, but sent for
good. Therefore, forget us not." (John Nelson, Journal, p. 141.)
^NoTE — This seems to have been the hardest temptation in all this bitter
experience. Mr. Nelson relates it as follows : "In the evening one of the offi-
cers came to me and said, Well, sir, why was you not at church to-day?' I
answered, T was, sir, and if you had been there, you might have seen me, for
I never miss going, when I have an opportunity.' 'Well, sir,* he added,
'have you preached since you came hither?' 'Not publicly, yet,' I replied.
He swore he wished I would that he might punish me severely. 'But, sir,'
I told him, 'if you do not repent and leave off that habit of swearing, you
will be worse punished than you are able to punish me.' He said, T will
make you mind your firelock, and leave off your preaching.' 'Yes, sir,' I
answered, 'when I leave off speaking.' This was he who put me in prison at
York for preaching. . . . (Ibid,, pp. I44ff.)
"He called for one of his soldiers and took the cockade out of his hat,
putting it in mine, and swore he would make me wear it. This caused a sore
temptation to rise in me to think that an ignorant, wicked man should thus
torment me in the street and prison, and I was able to tie his head and heels
together. I found an old man's bone in me, but the Lord lifted up a standard
when anger was coming in like a flood, else I should have wrung his neck
to the ground, and set my foot upon him, which would have brought a
reproach upon the gospel, and wounded my soul. But, oh, God is good to me,
for he showed me my danger, and delivered me from it in a moment. Then
I could look on him with pity, and pray for him from the ground of my
heart." (Ibid., p. 145.)
'"'John Nelson, Journal, p. 144.
^Ibid., p. 146.
THE PRESS GANGS 147
great comfort to him. Accordingly, the two friends went to a
common about a mile from town, where they first met their
chief.^^ Afterward Mr. Nelson and Thomas Beard, a fellow
prisoner and preacher, met Wesley again, and went to the inn
and stayed till nine o'clock.^^
The next move of the army was to Sunderland. On the
next Saturday night Mr. Nelson was ordered to stand sentry
on the Sunday following. But, he says, "I desired I might stand
another day, or pay for my guard. I believe ten men offered to
stand for me, but all in vain; for the ensign, who had showed
hatred for me all along, was the officer of the guard that day;
and he protested he would make me do it myself. I asked, 'Sir,
what have I done that I cannot have the same liberty of another
man?' He answered, 'You love the church too well, and I will
keep you from it, and make them go who do not like to go.' "
After this interview Mr. Nelson went to the guardhouse, where
many went to talk with him ; but he says, "I did not stand sentry
till six on Monday morning." *^
Mr. Nelson's sufferings were now rapidly drawing to a
close. He appears to have won the esteem and the sympathy at
least of many of the soldiers. On the march about twenty offered
to carry his gun for him or anything else that he had.^^ About
ten offered to stand sentry in his place, and when he went to the
guardhouse many of them went to talk with him.^^ A few days
later, when he preached, several of them went to hear him and
gave good attention. Moreover, many of the people of the
towns where his regiment was quartered were convinced of the
injustice that he suffered. And many were convinced that the
Methodists were misrepresented.^^ The papers evidently were
discussing the matter, and, as the army reached Sunderland, a
^*John Nelson, Journal, p. 147.
^^Ibid; also John Wesley, Journal, July 11, 1744.
nbid., p. 148.
"Ibid., p. 146.
*'Ibid., p. 148.
*^Ibid., p. 151.
148 EARLY METHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
landlord approached Mr. Nelson, requesting him to choose a
companion and ask to be billeted at his home.'*'*
The week after the effort to make him stand sentry on
Sunday, he spent an hour in the chamber with an officer, who
expressed sympathy for him, assured him that he should not be
kept from church again so long as he was with the army, spoke of
the injustice of his impressment, spoke appreciatively of him as
a man, and of the Methodist doctrine, and secured for him a
furlough for a week. During this furlough, he received a letter
from Charles Wesley, which stated that "the Earl of S. had
assured the L. H. that I should be set at liberty in a few days." ^^
Through the Countess of Huntingdon efforts were made with
those high in government positions for the release of the
preachers. Of Mr. Nelson, the author of the Life of Countess
of Huntingdon says : "Lady Huntingdon exerted all her influence
to obtain his discharge. By means of her acquaintance with
Judith, Dowager Countess of Sunderland, she obtained an inter-
view with her stepson, Charles, fourth Earl of Sunderland, after-
ward Duke of Marlborough, who had a short time before been
promoted to the rank of brigadier-general of his Majesty's forces.
On a faithful representation of the case, his Lordship assured
Lady Huntingdon that those for whom she had interested herself
should be set at liberty in a few days."^^ Through these in-
fluences, and probably redeemed by a substitute, Mr. Nelson
was released on Saturday, July 28.^^ That night he preached
and several soldiers were present. When he took leave of them
some of them were deeply affected. They said, "We are glad
you are set at liberty, but sorry to part with you." ^^ And the
major, upon giving him the discharge said, "I wish you well
wherever you go, for I believe you Methodists are a well-meaning
"John Nelson, Journal, p. 148.
*''Iljid., p. 151.
^"Life and Times of Countess of Huntingdon, vol. ii, p. 258; see also
John Nelson, Journal, p. 153.
"Jackson, Life of Charles Wesley, vol. i, p. 385.
"John Nelson, Journal, p. 158.
THE PRESS GANGS 149
people." ^^ For many years after this Mr. Nelson was one of
Wesley's most effective preachers.
Thomas Beard was pressed about the same time as Mr.
Nelson, and was his companion in arms. Even the powerful
frame of John Nelson nearly broke under the strain of outraged
justice. For three weeks he was ill, but recovered. ^^ But
Thomas Beard did not fare so well. The following brief account
is quoted from Wesley's Journal:
"I left Newcastle, and in the afternoon met John Nelson at
Durham, with Thomas Beard, another quiet and peaceable man,
who had lately been torn from his trade and wife and children
and sent away as a soldier, that is, banished from all that was
near and dear to him, and constrained to dwell among lions for
no other crime either committed or pretended than that of calling
sinners to repentance. But his soul was in nothing terrified by
his adversaries. Yet the body, after a while, sunk under its
burden. He was then lodged in the hospital at Newcastle, where
he still praised God continually. His fever increased : he was let
blood. His arm festered, mortified, and was cut off. Two or
three days after God signed his discharge, and called him to his
^'Servant of God, well done! Well hast thou fought
The better fight, who single hast maintained.
Against revolted multitudes, the cause
Of God, in word mightier than they in arms." ^^
Efforts to take Methodists for soldiers were renewed with
increased vigor the next year. Several attempts were made to
secure Richard Moss, but without success. At Epworth, on
June 5, as he was preaching the constable and churchwardens
entered and ordered him to stop, saying that they had a warrant
to take him for a soldier. However, his friends in the congrega-
tion formed a sort of bodyguard, and kept the opposers from ap-
^John Nelson, Journal, p. 157.
"Ibid., p. 157.
^John Wesley, Journal, July 11, 1744.
I50 EARLY :METH0DISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
preaching the pulpit. The contest lasted for about half an hour,
till one of the chief gentlemen of the town called to Mr. Moss,
took him to his own house, and sent him out of the town.^^
He was back again at the appointed time one week later.
This time the officers succeeded in getting hold of him, and
dragged him down the stairs. His friends began to pray. One
of the mob hearing this, said, 'T will have nothing to do in this
matter." This influenced the others, who released him, and
allowed him to go his way undisturbed. The next week he was
back again, but this time the people sent him away, lest he should
be taken. ^^
Tyerman states the following: **The Westminster Journal
for June 8th, 1745, narrates that a noted Methodist preacher
named Tolly had been pressed for a soldier in Staffordshire,
and had appeared before the magistrates, attended by many of
his 'deluded followers of both sexes, who pretended he was a
learned and holy man; and yet it appeared that he was only a
journeyman joiner, and had done great mischief among the
colliers.' The poor, luckless joiner was, therefore, coupled to a
sturdy tinker, and sent off to Staffordshire jail. He had already
been pressed once before, and the Methodists had subscribed
forty pounds to obtain his freedom, and were intending to repeat
the kindness. But the impeccable editor of the Westminster
Journal hopes that the magistrates will be proof against golden
bribes, for 'such wretches' as Tolly 'are incendiaries in a nation,'
and greatly to be dreaded." ^*
At Redruth, Cornwall, Wesley was informed that Thomas
Maxfield had been pressed. He immediately started to intercede
for his friend. He found him at the home of one Henry Tomp-
kins, "nothing terrified by his adversaries." He asked to see
the warrant. "It was directed by Dr. Borlase and his father,
and Mr. Eustick to the constables and overseers of several
"Methodist Magazine, 1798, p. 58; also John Wesley, Journal, August
"Tyerman, Life and Times of John Wesley, vol. i, p. 473.
THE PRESS GANGS 151
parishes, requiring them to 'apprehend all such able-bodied men
as had no lawful calling or sufficient maintenance, and to bring
them before the aforesaid gentlemen at Marazion on Friday, 21,
to be examined whether they were proper persons to serve his
Majesty in the land service.' " This warrant contained "the
names of seven or eight persons, most of whom were well known
to have lawful callings, and a sufficient maintenance thereby.
But that was all one; they were called Methodists, wherefore
soldiers they must be. Underneath was added, 'A person, his
name unknown, who disturbs the peace of the parish.' " ^^
On the day set for the trial Wesley appeared at court. He
says : ''About two Mr. Thompson and I went into the room
where the justices and commissioners were. After a few minutes
Dr. Borlase stood up and asked 'whether we had any business?'
I told him, 'We have. We desire to be heard concerning one who
was lately apprehended at Crowan.' He said: 'Gentlemen, the
business of Crowan does not come up yet. You shall be sent
for when it does.' So we retired and waited in another room
till after nine o'clock. They delayed the affair of Air. Maxfield,
as we imagined they would to the very last. About nine he was
called. I would have gone in then, but Mr. Thompson advised
to wait a little longer. The next information we received was
that they had sentenced him to go for a soldier. Hearing this,
we went straight to the commission-chamber, but the honorable
gentlemen were gone." ^^
Mr. Maxfield was offered to the captain of a man-of-war,
but he refused to take him, saying that he had no authority to
receive such as he.^''^ He was then taken immediately to Pen-
zance, where, as Wesley heard the next day, he was "put down
into the dungeon." The mayor was inclined to let him go, but
Dr. Borlase in order to prevent this, had gone hither himself,
and delivered him to "one who was to act as an officer." ^^
^''John Wesley, Journal, June 19, 1745.
''Ibid., June 21, 1745.
"*Ibid., June 22, 1745.
152 EARLY METHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
On June lo, 1745, a Mr. Beaumont preached at Waltown.
At the close of his sermon he was pressed for a soldier, and taken
to the home of the justice and left there. As the justice was
not at home, the preacher scarcely knew what to do. Finally,
however, he ascended the steps of the house and defended his
right to preach under the government, and then went his way.
Soon after he was apprehended again by another constable, and
taken before the commissioners. Here he proved himself to
have a small income from a freehold, and consequently was
On June 25, after Wesley had finished his sermon at Saint
Just, the constable apprehended Edward Greenfield by a warrant
from Dr. Borlase. Mr. Greenfield was a tinner, forty-six years
of age, with a wife and seven children. Three years previously
"he was eminent for cursing, swearing, drunkenness, and all
manner of wickedness." Wesley asked, "What objection there
was to Edward Greenfield," and received the answer: "Why, the
man is well enough in other things, but his impudence the gentle-
men cannot bear. Why, sir, he says he knows his sins are
An attempt was now made to press Wesley himself. On
the evening of July 2, Wesley preached at Saint Just. He noticed
several gentlemen who probably had never been present before,
and a large number of tinners, who stood at a distance from the
rest, and a great multitude of men, women, and children, who
seemed not to know why they were there.^^
Just as he concluded his sermon Mr. Eustick, a neighboring
gentleman, made his way through the congregation to Wesley's
presence and said, "Sir, I have a warrant from Dr. Borlase, and
you must go with me." Then, turning around, he said, "Sir, are
you Mr. Shepherd? If so you are mentioned in the warrant too.
Be pleased, sir, to come with me." He took them to a public
house. Here Wesley expressed his readiness to go before Dr.
"'Christian History, vol. vii, part iii, pp. I4ff.
'"John Wesley, Journal, June 25, 1745.
"'Ibid., July 2, 1745.
THE PRESS GANGS 153
Borlase at once, but after some delay Mr. Eustick left him at the
inn promising to take him before the Doctor in the morning.
The next morning, accordingly, Wesley and Mr. Shepherd waited
till nine o'clock, but no Mr. Eustick appeared. Mr. Shepherd
then went to inquire for him at the house where he lodged. "He
met him coming, as he thought, to our inn." But after waiting
for some time, they inquired again, and learned he had turned
aside to another house in the town. "I went thither and asked,
*Is Mr. Eustick here?' After some pause one said, 'Yes,' and
showed me into the parlor. When he came down he said, 'O,
sir, will you be so good as to go with me to the Doctor's?' I
answered, 'Sir, I came for that purpose.' 'Are you ready, sir?'
I answered, 'Yes.' 'Sir, I am not quite ready. In a little time,
sir, in a quarter of an hour I will wait upon you. I will come to
William Chenhall's.' In about three quarters of an hour he
came, and finding there was no remedy, he called for his horse,
and put forward for Dr. Borlase's house. But he was in no
haste; so that we were an hour and a quarter in riding three
or four measured miles. As soon as we came into the yard, he
asked a servant, 'Is the Doctor at home?' Upon whose an-
swering, 'No, sir, he is gone to church,' he presently said,
'Well, sir, I have executed my commission. I have no more
In the afternoon Wesley and Mr. Shepherd reached Gwenap.
Here, "finding the house would not contain one fourth of the
people," Wesley stood before the door and was reading his text
when two men rode into the congregation. One seized several
of the people; the other cried out saying : " 'Seize him, seize him.
I say seize the preacher for his Majesty's service.' But no one
stirring, he rode up and struck several of his attendants, cursing
them bitterly for not doing as they were bid. Perceiving still
that they would not move, he leaped off his horse, swore he would
do it himself, and caught hold of my cassock, crying, 'I take
you to serve his Majesty.' A servant taking his horse, he took
^John Wesley, Journal, July 2, 1745.
154 EARLY METHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
me by the arm, and we walked arm in arm for about three quar-
ters of a mile. He entertained me all the time with the wicked-
ness of the fellows belonging to the society. When he was taking
breath, I said, 'Sir, be they what they will, I apprehend it will
not justify you in seizing me in this manner, and violently carry-
ing me away as you said to serve his Majesty.' He replied : *I
seize you and violently carry you away ! No, sir, no. Nothing
like it. I asked you to go with me to my house. And you said
you were willing. And, if so, you are welcome. And, if not,
you are welcome to go where you please.' I answered, 'Sir, I
know not if it would be safe for me to go back through this
rabble.' 'Sir,' said he, 'I will go with you myself.' He then
called for his horse, and another for me and rode back with
me to the place from whence he took me." ®^
This was Mr. B , probably Dr. Borlase.^* Whoever it
may have been, he evidently was greatly disturbed. His embar-
rassment may have been due to the weakness of his cause, and
also to the remarkable presence of mind and self-command of
Wesley. This would naturally react upon a person under excite-
ment. Regardless of the popular feeling against him, the fact that
Wesley was an ordained clergyman, a scholar, and the leader of
a great movement, which was known throughout the three king-
doms, would tend to create no inconsiderable amount of respect
for him. In dealing with him the officers often seemed ill at
ease. Perhaps they knew the injustice of their cause. At any
rate, the calm, kindly and courteous presence of a man naturally
would disturb another such as he describes his assailant to have
been. There are other instances of men who were awed by his
presence. By experience he had learned how to meet and how
to contend with a whole mob. Therefore it would take one man
of great resistance to withstand a strong personality trained in
the school of bitter experience, as was Wesley.
Before Wesley had completed his sermon at Stithians on
'John Wesley, Journal, July 2, 1745.
THE PRESS GANGS 155
July 14 the constables and churchwardens went to the place and
pressed one of his hearers.^^
Howell Harris in a letter to Charles Wesley says that he
and his associates were hunted "like partridges, but still the work
prospers. Four of our brethren have been pressed, and are now
in Brecon Gaol. One of them was apprehended last year. Of
the other three, one was a private man, one a Welsh schoolmaster
to Mr. Griffith Jones, and the other taught an English school,"
"At Woodley in Cheshire, John Bennet and three other
Methodists were pressed." ^'^ In this instance most of the press
gang were dissenters.
Peter Jaco tells us that at Grampound, in 1754, he was
pressed, "and kept under a strong guard for several days without
meat or drink, but what I was obliged to procure at a large
expense." It also was threatened that he should have his feet
tied under the horse's belly while he was carried eight miles before
the commission. He was honorably acquitted, yet he says it
cost him a rather large sum of money as well as much trouble.^ ^
In 1757 William Hitchens was pressed at Bradford and
taken to an inn. A friend hearing of his apprehension went to
the inn and offered bail for the appearance of Mr. Hitchens at
court the next day. He was told that they would take his word
for one thousand pounds, but not for the preacher's release, as
he must go to the roundhouse. To this he was conveyed by five
soldiers. He found nothing to sit upon but a stone, and nothing
to lie upon but "a little straw." Soon after a friend took him a
chair, upon which he sat all night, guarded by twelve soldiers.^^
In the afternoon he was taken before the commission. He
showed them that he had a lawful business and also an estate.
Upon this he was allowed to give bond to appear again in three
'John Wesley, Journal, July 14, 1745.
*John Bulmer, Memoirs of Howell Harris, p. 41.
^Tyerman, Life and Times of John Wesley, vol. i, p. 472.
^Jackson's Lives, vol. i, p. 264.
^John Wesley, Journal, February 22, 1757.
156 EARLY i\IETHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
weeks. At the appointed time he appeared, taking with him the
papers showing his title to his estate. His brother also made an
oath concerning him to the commission. Whence they allowed
him to be set at liberty. "^^
In the year 1758, while a Mr. Thompson was preaching, "an
unruly mob arose (instigated by the minister of the parish),
and cruelly assaulted him and several of the principal Meth-
odists, carrying them off in triumph, and taking the people, with-
out any kind of a trial, on board a transport, which then lay
ready to sail with a fleet of men-of-war. Mr. Thompson was
confined in prison, expecting every hour to be sent on board the
transport also, and he was not permitted to see any of his friends.
The parson and the noble justice of the peace (who, I presume,
resided in the same parish) sometimes deigned to visit him in
order to dispute with him on religious subjects." '^^
This aft'air having reached the ears of the Countess of
Huntingdon, she, with some others of influence, ''made applica-
tion to the government by which means Mr. Thompson and the
people were soon set at liberty." "^^
On the evening of July 4, 1759, Wesley was preaching near
Stockton market place. He says, 'T had hardly finished the
hymn when I observed the people in great confusion, which was
occasioned by a lieutenant of a man-of-war, who had chosen
that time to bring his press gang and ordered them to take Joseph
Jones and William Atwood."^^ Joseph Jones told the lieutenant
that he belonged to Wesley, and was released. William Atwood
showed that he was a licensed preacher, and was also released.
The lieutenant "seized upon a young man of the town, but the
women rescued him by main strength. They also broke the
lieutenant's head, and so stoned both him and his men that they
ran away with all speed." '^^
^"John Wesley, Journal, February 22, 1757.
^'Anon., Experiences of Methodist Preachers, p. 381.
"John Wesley, Journal, July 4, 1759.
THE PRESS GANGS 157
This is interesting, as it is one of the very rare instances
of meeting physical force with physical force. But it is to be
observed that it was the women that resisted. It also indicates
that the Methodists were gaining in popular favor. For in the
earlier periods, as has been noticed, even the women were not
exempted from the most brutal violence, even when they offered
The last recorded instance of these impressments is that of
George Cussons, September, 1761. This was a little more than
seventeen years after the first efforts at this kind of persecution.
Mr. Cussons and three others "were forcibly taken away by a
press gang, and sent on board the tender, or receiving ship,"
where they were kept all night, and the greater part of the next
day, and from whence they were to be sent to a man-of-war.
A contrary wind sprang up which caused delay. This gave time
for the friends to interfere, and on the afternoon of the second
day they were set at liberty. ''^^
Mr. Cussons attributes this affair to "persons in a higher
situation, who were showing their hatred to" them, "and who
were endeavoring to banish" them "from the place. And they
so far succeeded in their design that, during the winter" their
"meeting'^^ together for worship was in a great measure pre-
At another time Mr. Cussons was stopped in the street by
the press gang, and taken to the house of rendezvous, where he
was kept for a short time. He says, he was "handled very
roughly, and much coarse language was bestowed" '^'^ upon him.
This, however, was the extent of his suffering from them, for he
was soon set at liberty, and the Methodists were henceforth free
from persecution of this nature.
^^Memoirs of George Cussons, p. 20, Tyerman Collection of Pamphlets,
THE CLERGY AND THE MAGISTRATES
Dr. Samuel Chandler says : "The Christian Religion abso-
lutely condemns persecution for conscience sake. Were the
doctrines of the gospel regarded as they should be, and the pre-
cepts of the Christian religion submitted to by all who profess to
believe it, universal benevolence would be the certain effect, and
eternal peace and union would reign amongst the members of the
Christian Church. For, if there are any commandments of
certain clearness, any precepts of evident obligation in the gospel,
they are such as refer to the exercise of love, and the maintaining
universal charity." ^ In support of this statement he quotes the
Sermon on the Mount ; the new commandment of love, etc. He
also makes the following declaration, lamentable because appar-
ently undeniable : *'It is a truth too evident to be denied that the
clergy in general throughout almost all the several ages of the
Christian Church have been deep and warm in the measure of
persecution, as though it had been a doctrine expressly inculcated
in the sacred writings, and recommended by the practice of our
Saviour and his apostles."^ This was published in 1813 and is
quite applicable to the attitude of the clergy of England toward
the Methodists, during most of the eighteenth century. Also in
certain localities they were ably assisted by the magistrates and
justices of the peace. Of course they were not all opposed;
there were a few noble exceptions, but in the main, the clerg)^
"were exceedingly bitter." ^ Their sermons often abounded with
cruel invectives and false and injurious calumnies. Some repre-
sented the Methodists as the most wicked, abominable, aban-
'Samuel Chandler, The History of Persecution, p. 390,
*Ibi(l., p. 360.
'John Morris, Autobiography, Methodist Magazine, 1795, p. ^2.
THE CLERGY AND THE MAGISTRATES 159
doned wretches in the world. "* The pulpits rang with "popery,
madness, enthusiasm," ^ etc. Of course these addresses from
the pulpits, and similar writings which followed, prejudiced the
minds of many thousands against the Methodists, and caused
them to suffer bitter persecution in various forms, and for many
years. Sometimes the minister was enraged with the people
because of their familiarity with the Scriptures ; ^ others because
of the unusual zeal of the preacher,''' and some because the ser-
mons applied with uncomfortable directness to the habits of the
Another and perhaps chief cause of this opposition was the
extraordinary success of the Methodists. Though there were
some notable admirers and adherents among the upper classes,
and though a number of the nobility heard Wesley, and especially
Whitefield, and a few joined the societies, yet it is quite true, as
a rule, that the gentry and nobility either held aloof, or strongly
opposed the movement. The masses, however, waited expectantly
for a Methodist preacher to visit their community, and when he
came, flocked to hear him. We read of congregations varying
from one to many thousands listening to these preachers.^
Moreover, the poor people readily joined the societies. There
are frequent references to opposition and to persecution following
hard upon the heels of this great success.
Generally, the lesser clergy were not seeking to defend the
principles of Christianity, and seldom, almost never, undertook
the defense of the Bible or Bible doctrines. They opposed, and
often most vehemently and with violence, what seemed to them
to be an attack upon an institution, namely the church, ^^ which
they served, and which they thought must be protected. To
*John Wesley, Journal, June 16, 1755; Tyerman, Life and Times of
John Wesley, vol. i, pp. 239ff., etc.
'Charles Wesley, Journal, July 17, 1744.
^Ibid., July 30, 1744.
^Southey, Life of John Wesley, vol. ii, p. Zl-
^John Wesley, Works, Letter to J. Smith, June 25, 1746.
®Life of Countess of Huntingdon, vol. ii, p. 276.
"John Nelson, Journal, p. 92.
i6o EARLY METHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
read in succession one account after another of their opposition
one is made to feel that they were defending the church much
as a pohtician might defend his party, the emphasis being placed,
not so much upon the principles which the party represents as
upon the party as an organization in itself. The doctrines, the
principles of the gospel, seemed subordinated. Indeed, the Bible
was sometimes openly attacked. But "the church," the institu-
tion, was paramount. It must be protected at any cost.
Methodism was intended by its originators to be a move-
ment for the revival and reform of the Church of England,
from within. Therefore, being clergymen of the Established
Church, its leaders naturally sought the pulpits of the church
from which to convey their messages. However, their emphasis
of certain doctrines and their earnestness, their entire work in
fact, soon met with disapproval, and they received the name of
"enthusiasts." They were then excluded from pulpit after pulpit
till practically all the churches of the three kingdoms were
closed against them.^^
In 1739 Whitefield had a conversation of two hours with
an opposing clergyman, whose chief objection was against the
private societies, and using extempore prayer. ^^ A little later
he preached at Malmesbury, where he learned that much oppo-
sition had been made against his coming. The minister in
particular had written to the churchwarden to stop him,^^ but in
vain. At Bristol, the dean being absent, the chancellor threatened
to suspend him. He then preached at Newgate, taking a col-
lection for the prisoners, but this also was forbidden by order
of the mayor. ^'^
Charles Wesley met a minister, who "complained heavily
of the multitude of our communicants, and produced the canon
against strangers. He could not admit it as a reason for their
"John Hampson, Memoirs of John Wesley, vol. ii, p. 13; Original
letters of John Wesley, p. no; George Whitefield, Journal, p. 187.
^''George Whitefield, Journal, p. 120.
'nbid., p. 215,
^'Memoirs of George Whitefield, printed for W. Ross, p. 23,
THE CLERGY AND THE MAGISTRATES i6l
coming to his church that they had no sacrament of their own."
Wesley offered his assistance to lessen his trouble, but he declined
it. "There were a hundred new communicants," he told them,
"last Sunday, and I am credibly informed that some of them
came out of spite to me." ^^
John Wesley, before going into the street and highways, as
was his custom, sent to borrow the church. "The minister, one
of the better disposed, sent back a civil message; would be glad
to drink a glass of wine with me, but durst not lend me his
pulpit for fifty guineas." He adds, "Mr. Whitefield durst lend me
his field, which did just as well." ^^ They were forced, there-
fore, to go into the fields and streets ; to build preaching-houses
and tabernacles of their own, or to forsake their calling.
Among the dissenters there was some opposition, but by no
means as bitter as that from the ministry of the Established
Church. Quite frequently, however, they were sympathetic. It
was only occasionally that they were among the persecutors. At
one time Charles Wesley heard from a dissenting layman of the
extreme bitterness of his two ministers, w^ho made it their busi-
ness to go from house to house to set their people against the
Methodists and to threaten all who heard them with excom-
munication.^^ At another time the rector and the Baptist minister
did all they could to prevent the people from hearing the
preachers. ^^ Once two dissenting laymen assisted the curate in
setting on the mob, encouraging them and supplying them with
as much ale as they could drink while they played a fire engine
into the house, broke the windows, flooded the rooms, and
spoiled the goods. ^^
At this time in England the Catholics were pretty well
crushed, and their influence was not felt to any great extent.
However, in Ireland they were powerful, and on more than one
^^Charles Wesley, Journal, October 13, 1739.
^"John Wesley, Journal, August 25, 1739.
"Charles Wesley, Journal, September 17, 1748.
^^Ibid, March 16, 1768.
^'Southey, Life of John Wesley, vol. ii, pp. 47ff.
i62 EARLY METHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
occasion their opposition caused intense suffering. ^^ Charles
Wesley says that "all the Catholic priests take wretched pains
to hinder their people from hearing us." ^^ Moreover, none
were fiercer than the Irish mobs, many of whom were Catholics.^^
Closing the churches having failed to check the Methodists,
the ministers preached against them, sometimes mentioning them
by name. One minister represented them as those "whom Saint
Paul foretold, who have the form, the outside show of holiness,
but not the power, for they are ravening wolves, full of hypoc-
risy within." ^^ Others represent them as "both heretics and
schismatics; ... as introducing popery, raising sedition, prac-
ticing both against church and state; and all manner of evil was
publicly said both of us and [of] those who were accustomed
to meet with us." ^* The vicar at Sarum sent his footman to
Mr. John Furz with the message, "My master bids me tell you
you have a soft place in your head." Later in the day the vicar
reported to the Earl of Pembroke that "There is a young fellow
in the town, who, under a pretense of preaching, makes three
riots every week, and disturbs all the inhabitants from one end
to the other." ^^ Howell Harris went to church on a Sabbath
and heard himself pointed out as "a minister of the devil, an
enemy to God, to the church, and to all mankind." ^^ Moreover,
numerous mention is made by the Wesleys and their associates
of going to church and hearing sermons against the Methodists
or against themselves personally. By these, however, the Meth-
odists were undaunted, but pressed forward wherever duty called.
But all the ministers did not stop with words. Some of them
used violence. One took John Nelson by the collar, pulled him
down from his preaching place, and tore his clothes consider-
^"Charles Wesley, Journal, February lo, 1748; Jackson's Lives, vol. iii,
^'Charles Wesley, Journal, August 21, 1748.
"Above, chapters vii and viii.
^'John Wesley, Journal, August 24, 1743.
"Ibid., March 11, 1745.
"Arminian Magazine, 1782, p. 570.
■"John Bulmcr, Memoirs of Howell Harris, p. 31.
THE CLERGY AND THE MAGISTRATES 163
ably.^^ Others exerted themselves in raising and leading mobs.
At Devizes the curate rang the bells backward to call the mob
together.^^ At Tealby the minister hired a mob in order "to
give the finishing stroke to Methodism." ^^ At Shepton John
Wesley was informed that the curate had hired a silly man with
a few drunken companions to make a disturbance.^^ The attitude
of the minister at Wednesbury is quite well known.^^ Of him
Charles Wesley says, "Their unhappy minister was the contriver
of it all." 22
At Colne, in order to assemble the mob, the minister had
posted the following proclamation : "Notice is hereby given that,
if any man be mindful to enlist into his Majesty's service, under
the command of the Reverend Mr. George White, Commander-
in-Chief, and John Bannister, Lieutenant-General of his
Majesty's forces for the defense of the Church of England, and
the support of the manufactory in and about Colne, both which
are now in danger, let him repair to the drum head at the Cross,
where each man shall have a pint of ale for advance, and other
proper encouragements." This mob, "hired for the purpose and
headed by the parson," disturbed Mr. Grimshaw while preach-
There are accounts of mobs, headed by the clergy or hired
by them as late as 1773.^^ About this time, or a little later, as
we shall see, the attitude of the clergy changed somewhat and
opposition ceased, or at least became milder.
The Methodists, moreover, frequently were repelled from
the Sacrament, though they were members of the Church of
England. At Temple Church Charles Wesley was told by the
"John Nelson, Journal, pp. 78fif.
^^Southey, Life of John Wesley, vol. ii, pp. 47ff.
^^Methodist Magazine, 1798, pp. 478ff.
^"John Wesley, Journal, August 6, 1746.
^' Above, pp. 88, 93.
^"Charles Wesley, Journal, June 24, 1743.
^^J. Crother, Methodist Manual, p. 46, Tyerman Collection of Pamphlets,
^*Jackson's Lives, vol. v, p. 46.
i64 EARLY Z^IETHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
minister, "I repel you from the sacrament." ^^ And once when
he went forward to take the sacrament the clerk came forward
and cried out, "Avant, Satan, avant!" Wesley, finding that
nothing would quiet the clerk, withdrew to his pew and the
service ended. ^^
While at Epworth John Wesley sent to the curate to inform
him that they desired to take the communion on the following
Sunday. The minister, though he was under great obligation to
the Wesley family, sent back the answer, "Tell Mr. Wesley
that I shall not give him the sacrament, for he is not fit." ^'^
To us this seems a very strange answer, coming as it did from a
drunken curate and applied to a man of such self-denial and
purity of character as Wesley. It is probable, however, that
the curate laid the emphasis, not upon what the man was, but
upon what he believed, and Wesley taught doctrines of faith and
of life, of which it is very improbable that Mr. Romley was
able to comprehend the meaning.
Occasionally a curate fell under the influence of the Meth-
odists, and began to preach and to live as they did. One of these
was warned that "Unless he kept away from this people, he
must leave his curacy." ^^ Some were dismissed. One of these
was Dr. Coke,^^ who then determined to cast in his lot with the
people for the principles of whom he had been cast out. He
became a very able helper of Wesley, both in England and in
It is impossible to single out any one group of the clergy
and to say that ecclesiastical opposition began here, for it seems
to have begun among them all at about the same time. With the
others the bishops were equally, if not more responsible than
the lower clergy for the sufiferings of the Methodists. Their
influence was greater, and because of this they doubtless could
'^Charles Wesley, Journal, July 27, 1740.
^"H. Moore, Life of John Wesley, vol. ii, p. 18.
"Southey, Life of John Wesley, vol. ii, p. 21.
'^John Wesley, Journal, November i, 1767.
""Ibid., August 19, 1777.
THE CLERGY AND THE ^MAGISTRATES 165
have checked disturbances had they so desired. There is no
trace of any united effort to do this. On the other hand, some of
them, by their utterances, actually urged on the opposition.
In June of 1739 a bishop had forbidden a minister to allow
any of the Methodists to preach in his church, and the Bishop of
London had authorized forcible exclusion.^ ^ Before the Wednes-
bury riots the minister had "heard a vehement visitation-
charge,"^^ which added to the intensity of his opposition. In
1750 John Wesley wrote as follows to the Bishop of Exeter:
"Against whom does your Lordship arm the ministers of all
denominations, particularly our brethren of the Established
Church, inciting them to point us out to our several congregations
as not fit to live upon the earth ? The effects of this have already
appeared in many parts, both in Devonshire and Cornwall. Nor
have I known any considerable riot in any part of England for
which such preaching did not pave the w^ay." ^^ This was Bishop
Lavington, whose Enthusiasm of Methodists and Papists Com-
pared, as will be shown later, was so bitter and violent as un-
avoidably to stir up strife. The Bishop of Cork openly entered
the list against the Methodists.*^ A formidable attack came
from the Bishop of London, who in a pastoral letter warned his
people against the Methodists, and made severe charges against
these people.** Bishops forbade their clergy to allow the Meth-
odists to preach in their churches, and some bishops would not
allow the minister to admit a Methodist preacher to the com-
munion table.* ^
There is an interesting anecdote in connection w^ith White-
field, toward whom, because of his popularity and recognized
oratorical powers, the bishops were especially antagonistic.*^
*°Charles Wesley, Journal, June 19, 1739.
"John Wesley, Works, Letter to J. Smith.
**Ibid., Letter to Bishop of Exeter, par. 13.
"Ibid., Letter to Mr. Baily, par. 13.
"J- J. Ellis, John Wesley, p. 69; John Wesley, Works, Letter to Bishop
*^John Wesley, Journal, June i, 1777.
"Life and Times of Countess of Huntingdon, vol. i, p. ^S.
i66 EARLY :\IETHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
Therefore they were anxious to silence him. Lord Bohngbroke
is quoted as saying in a letter to the Countess of Huntingdon
that "the King has recommended to his Grace of Canterbury
that Mr. Whitefield should be advanced to the [Bishop's] Bench
as the only means of putting an end to his preaching." Boling-
broke adds : "What a keen — what a biting remark ! but how just
and how well-earned by those mitred lords !" *^
As already mentioned, during all those turbulent times some
of the clerg}^ though few indeed, were friendly. Yet in later
years others, even those who had been violent persecutors, became
more favorable. Bishop Gibson was a steady friend of the
Established Church, and an opponent of the Methodists, yet he
was always a great enemy to persecution.^^ Occasionally a
minister was the means of quieting the mob.*^ Even Dr. Borlase,
who had been such a bitter persecutor,^^ reformed, and in 1757
Wesley learned that he no longer persecuted the Methodists, nor
would allow anyone else to do so. Moreover, in a late famine
he had relieved the sufferings of a great number of the poor.^^
Near the close of Wesley's life there was a remarkable
change in the attitude of the clergy toward him and his work.
Persecution had not ceased. There was still enough of it to keep
the Methodists humiliated, but the change was so marked as to
cause Wesley to wonder whether the shame of the cross had
ceased. In 1778 a minister not only allowed Wesley to preach
in his church but also offered him a bed at his house.^^ By
1780 there are very frequent references to his preaching in
churches. In 1783 and again in 1789 Wesley says that the tide
has so turned that he had more invitations to preach in churches
than he could accept. ^"^^ In 1790 a clergyman was willing that
''Life and Times of Countess of Huntingdon, vol. i, p. 38; vol. ii, pp.
'"Whitehead, Life of John Wesley, p. 125.
"Charles Wesley, Journal, February 5, 1747.
""John Wesley, Journal, June 21, 1745.
■^'Ibid., September 21, 1757.
"Ibid., April 14, 1778.
'^^Ibid., January 19, 1783 ; December 27, 1789.
THE CLERGY AND THE MAGISTRATES 167
Wesley should preach in his church, but was afraid of offending
the bishop. A gentleman asked the bishop whether he had any
objection to it, and he replied, "None at all." ^^ However, as
previously noticed, at this same time the Methodists were having
trouble enough, °^ and Wesley seems to think the bishop respon-
sible for it. He says, "They desire a license to worship God
after their own conscience. Your Lordship refuses it, and then
punishes them for not having it." ^^ In this also the bishop
failed, through interference by the King's court, and the Meth-
odists were allowed to pursue their w^orship unmolested.
If the clergy were chiefly responsible for the mobs, certainly
the justices and magistrates were close seconds, for they had
the power and authority to quell the disturbances, yet often they
would take no action at all, refusing warrants to those who
applied for them, and in some cases they themselves stirred up
the basest of the people to violence. Some times they refused to
act unless the injured would forsake the Methodists, ^'^ Others
refused to act at all, as at Cork, Wednesbury, etc., and by this
means encouraged the rioters. The magistrates and ministers
seem usually to have worked together, ^^ and quite frequently the
gentry could be included in this group. ^^ In 1745, while Wesley
was preaching, some "were as rude as they dared to be, having
none of the great vulgar to set them on." ^^ Later in his life he
speaks very frequently of disturbances while he was preaching
by some who by the courtesy of England are called gentlemen,
implying that notwithstanding their rank in society, he esteemed
them vulgar. He speaks of a lawyer who disturbed him while
preaching; ^^ of a gentleman, who sent for him and told him
that "he would hire a mob to pull the house down, for we were
"John Wesley, Journal, October 20, 1790.
'^^ Above, p. 14.
°'John Wesley, Works, Letter to Bishop of , June 26, 1790.
"John Wesley, Journal, May 25, 1743.
^^Christian History, vol. vii, sec. 2, pp. i6ff.
■^^Coke & Moore, Life of John Wesley, pp. 202ff.
®°John Wesley, Journal, May 10, 1745.
'^Ibid., September 3, 1745.
i68 EARLY :METH0DISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
the most disturbing dogs in the nation/' and of "having been
threatened more and more, especially by the gentry, who say
they will send us for soldiers." He tells of a justice who en-
couraged the mob, of a mayor who behaved badly, of a squire
who, when the vicar announced that Wesley was to preach in
the church, objected and compelled the preacher to go elsewhere,
of a magistrate who directed the mob, "Do what you will, then,
so you break no bones." ^^ Also the conduct of the justices who
condemned John Nelson to serve as a soldier must be remem-
bered.^^ Moreover, it was two justices that fined the Meth-
odists so heavily in 1790, and which caused Wesley, now an
old man, so much anxiety.^^ Together these groups of men
stirred up a great deal of strife in England, and caused intense
suffering on the part of the Methodists. However, through the
courage, the devotion, and the spirit of sacrifice on the part of
both preachers and people, they surmounted all obstacles placed
before them, terrible as they were, and in time changed the
attitude of nearly all England toward themselves. Toward the
close of Wesley's life many of the clergy were friends who had
®^John Wesley, Journal, April 9, 1755; July 29, 1764; March 18, 1768;
July 8, 1 76 1.
"^Above, pp. I39ff.
'*John Wesley, Works, Letter to Member of Parliament.
THE UNIVERSITY AND THE METHODISTS
It is well known that the three great leaders of the Meth-
odist movement were associated together at Oxford University,
and that it was there that the name "Methodist" was first applied
to them, and to the group with which they were associated, and
which they had gathered about themselves.
In order to understand better the relationship of events at
Oxford a few dates will be helpful. In 1720 John Wesley was
elected a student at Christ Church College, Oxford;^ in 1725,
August 19, he was ordained deacon by Dr. Potter, Bishop of
Oxford;^ on March 17, 1726, he was elected Fellow of Lincoln
College, Oxford ; ^ and at the same time his brother, Charles,
was elected a student of Christ Church College.^ John Wesley
proceeded to the Master of Arts February 14, 1727,^ and from
August of that year he was his father's curate at Wroote till
November, 1729, when he returned to the university, where he
remained till he sailed for America. From the time of his
election as a student in 1726, Charles Wesley remained at Oxford
continually till he, with his brother, sailed for Georgia in 1735.
Notwithstanding the influence of his brother, Charles Wesley
admitted that his first year at Oxford was lost in diversions.
Later, however, he became studious and serious. By study, by
devotions, and by correspondence with his brother, who was then
his father's curate, he sought the best method of procedure. In
due time he became settled in his religious convictions, and
^John Whitehead, Life of John Wesley, vol. i, p. 235.
^Ibid., p. 244.
^Ibid., p. 246.
*Ibid., p. 72.
"Ibid., p. 252.
I70 EARLY METHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
shortly afterward gathered about himself a small group of
friends, who were of the same mind. He says of himself : *T
went to the weekly sacrament, and persuaded two or three young
students to accompany me, and to observe the method of study
prescribed by the Statutes of the University. This gained for
me the harmless name of 'Methodist.' In half a year after this
my brother left his curacy at Ep worth, and came to our assistance.
We then proceeded regularly in our studies, and in doing what
good we could to the bodies and souls of men." ^ Dr. Whitehead
says: "The following particulars appear evident: i. That he
[Charles] was awakened to a most serious and earnest desire of
being truly religious and devoted to God while his brother was
at Epworth as his father's curate; 2. that he observed an exact
method in his studies, and in his attendance on the duties of
religion, receiving the sacrament once a week; 3. that he per-
suaded two or three young gentlemen to join him in these things,
among whom, I believe, Alorgan was one; 4. that the exact
method and order which he observed in spending his time, and
regulating his conduct gained him the name 'Methodist.' Hence
it appears that Charles Wesley was the first Methodist, and laid
the foundation of that little society at Oxford, which afterward
made so much noise in the world." "^ Mr. Jackson says, "They
were diligent and methodical in the prosecution of their studies,
and in the improvement of their time, unusually sober in their
spirit and general deportment, and very regular in their atten-
tion to religious duties, particularly the Lord's Supper, which they
received every week." ^ And John Wesley says the name "was
first given to three or four young men at Oxford by a student
of Christ Church, either in allusion to the ancient sect of physi-
cians, so called from their teaching that almost all diseases might
be cured by a specific method of diet and exercise, or from their
observing a more regular method of study and behavior than
'John Whitehead, Life of Charles Wesley, vol. i, p. 72.
Hbid, p. 75.
'Thomas Jackson, Life of Charles Wesley, p. 31.
THE UNR^ERSITY AND THE METHODISTS 171
was usual with those of their age and station." ^ Again he says :
'The regularity of their behavior gave occasion to a young
gentleman of the college to say, T think we have got a new set
of Methodist.' . . . The name was new and quaint; it clave to
them immediately, and from that time both those four young
gentlemen and all that had any religious connection with them
were distinguished by the name 'Methodist.' " ^^
The name, therefore, because of its quaintness, was first
applied in derision to Charles and his friends; and before the
return of John to Oxford, the "Methodists," though not more
than three or four in number, were known all over the univer-
John Wesley, in 1725, "was much affected by reading
Kempis' Christian Pattern, and Bishop Taylor's Rules for Holy
Living and Dying." ^^ In 1726-27 Charles was with him at the
university, but the elder brother did not succeed in arousing in
the younger any response to his own seriousness.^^ However,
when John Wesley returned to the university in 1729 the group
was ready and anxious for his leadership, which he naturally
and readily assumed, being older than the others, a Master of
Arts, a Fellow, and tutor in the college.
As John Wesley joined this group ridicule was heaped
upon him together with the others. Mr. Southey says : "His
standing and character in the university gave him a degree of
credit, and his erudition, his keen logic, and ready speech com-
manded respect wherever he was known. But no talent — and it
may be added, no virtue — can protect the possessor from the
ridicule of fools and profligates." ^^ This is strong language,
®John Wesley, Works, Character of a Methodist, Introduction, p. 3.
^°Ibid., Sermon on Foundation of City Road Chapel, part ii, par. 2.
"Thomas Jackson, Life of Charles Wesley, p. 31.
^'John Wesley, Works, Sermon on Foundation of City Road Chapel,
part ii, par. i.
"Thos. Jackson, Life of Charles Wesley, p. 31.
"Robert Southey, Life of John Wesley, vol. i, p. 48.
Note — Mr. Southey is frequently quoted in this work, not because he is a
"source," nor necessarily an authority, but chiefly because he was an opponent.
172 EARLY METHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
and especially significant, when it is remembered that he was
speaking of the personnel of Oxford University. However, as
the name ''Methodist" found its origin at Oxford, so also did
persecution. And it is not improbable that the conduct of the
students of the university exerted an influence wholesome toward
violence, if not inciting to the terrible outrages that later were
heaped upon the Methodists by the more ignorant and degraded
After John Wesley had become the leader of the Oxford
Methodists, led by Mr. Morgan, one of their number, they began
to visit the sick, the poor, and the condemned in the prisons.
Owing to opposition, John Wesley wrote to his father for advice.
The father directed them first to consult with him "who has a
jurisdiction over the prisoners, and the next is to obtain the
direction and approbation of your bishop." ^^ Consequently, they
consulted Mr. Gerard, chaplain to the bishop, and Mr. Gerard
consulted the bishop, who "not only gave his permission, but was
highly pleased with the undertaking, and hoped it would have
the desired success." ^^
Whitefield says that "sheltered by such respectable authority,
they thought themselves secure, and prosecuted their design
with diligence." ^^ But this authority did not allay the persecu-
tion. Wits now entered the field against them. Hence they were
"objects both of ridicule and censure, and were known in the
university as the Reforming Club, the Godly Club, Sacrament-
arians, Bible Moths, Supererogation Men, and the Enthusiasts,
so that some of them found it difficult to maintain their ground
amidst the raillery and invection with which they were treated." ^^
But most of the opposition "being persons of well-known
characters, they made no proselytes from the sacrament till a
''John Whitehead, Life of John Wesley, vol. i, p. 260.
'"Ibid., vol. i, p. 261.
''Thomas Jackson, Life of Charles Wesley, one-volume edition, p. 42 ; also,
Whitehead, Life of John Wesley, vol. i, pp. 26iff; Henry Moore, Life of
John Wesley, vol. i, pp. 169 and 175.
THE UNIVERSITY AND THE METHODISTS 173
gentleman, eminent for learning, and well esteemed for piety,
joining them, told his nephew that if he dared to go to the
weekly communion any longer, he would turn him out of doors.
This argument had no success; the young gentleman communi-
cated next week. The uncle now became more violent, and
shook his nephew by the throat to convince him more effectively
that receiving the sacrament every week was founded in error.
But this argument appearing to the young gentleman to have
no weight in it, he continued his usual practice." The uncle
now changed his tactics, and "by a soft and obliging manner"
"melted down the young gentleman's resolution of being so
strictly religious, and from this time he began to absent himself
five Sundays out of six from the sacrament." "This success
gave the opposition new strength, and one of the seniors of the
college, consulting with the doctor, they prevailed with two
other young gentlemen to promise they would only communicate
three times a year." ^^
The opposition therefore became more serious still by some
persons of influence taking so decided a part against them.^^
Henry Moore says: "In the beginning of 1731 a mxceting was
held by several of the seniors of the college to consult on the
speediest way to stop the progress of enthusiasm in it. Wesley
and his friends did not learn what was the result of this very
pious consultation, but it was soon publicly reported that Dr.
and the censors were going to blow up the Godly Club." ^^
This continued opposition led the two brothers to write
again to their father for further council. Among other sug-
gestions the father advised them "to use great mildness toward
their persecutors, but at the same time to avoid a mean or sneak-
ing behavior, and rather to show an open, manly firmness, which
is highly becoming in a mind conscious of acting well." In
answer to this Wesley wrote his father : "We all return you our
sincere thanks for your timely and necessary advice ; and should
^^ohn Whitehead, Life of John Wesley, vol. i, pp. 261, 262.
"°Ibid., vol. i, p. 262.
"Henry Moore, Life of John Wesley, vol. i, p. 175.
174 EARLY ^lETHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
be exceedingly glad if it were as easy to follow it as it is im-
possible not to approve it." ^^
In 1732 Whitefield went up to the university. He says the
Methodists "were then much talked of at Oxford," ^^ and before
going there he had heard of them, and notwithstanding their
unpopularity, he had admired them. Without connecting him-
self with them, he began to follow their example, and "to receive
the sacrament at a parish church near our college, and at the
castle where the despised Methodists used to receive once a
month." He adds that he "strenuously defended them" when he
"heard them reviled by the students," and was "strongly inclined
to follow their good example" when he "saw them go through
a ridiculing crowd to receive the holy sacrament at Saint
To quote his journal again, he says : "The first thing I was
called to give up for His dear Name's sake was what the world
calls my fair reputation ; for I had no sooner received the sacra-
ment publicly on a week day at Saint Mary's but I was set up as
a mark for all the polite students that knew me to shoot at.
Soon after I also incurred the displeasure of the master of the
college, who frequently chid, and once threatened to expel me,
if ever I visited the poor again." ^^ Whitefield replied hastily,
"Sir, if it displeaseth you, I will go no more," but adds : "My
heart smote me immediately. I repented and went again. He
heard of it and threatened; but for fear he should be looked
upon as a persecutor, let me alone." ^^ But he says : "I daily
underwent some contempt from the collegians. Some have
thrown dirt at, and others took away their pay from me." ^^
In December, 1740, a student, Charles Casper Graves by
"'"John Whitehead, Life of John Wesley, vol. i, p. 263; Henry Moore,
Life of John Wesley, vol. i, p. 171.
^^George Whitefield, Journal, p. 10, 1756 edition.
^'Ibid., pp. I2ff.
^"Tyerman, Life of George Whitefield, vol. ii, p. 504.
•^George Whitefield, Journal, p. 13.
Note — Whitefield was a servitor at the college.
THE UNIVERSITY AND THE METHODISTS 175
name, in order to receive his testimonial from the university was
compelled to sign a paper containing the following declarations :
"I, Charles Casper Graves, do hereby declare that I do renounce
the modern practice and principles of the persons commonly
called Methodists, namely, of preaching in fields, of assembling
together and expounding the Holy Scriptures in private houses
and elsewhere than in churches, in an irregular and disorderly
manner, and their pretensions to an extraordinary inspiration
and inward feeling of the Holy Spirit. I do further declare my
conformity to the liturgy of the Church of England and my
unfeigned assent and consent to the articles thereof, commonly
called the Thirty-Nine Articles. Lastly, I do declare that I am
heartily sorry that I have given offense and scandal by frequent-
ing the meetings and attending the expositions of the persons
commonly called Methodists, and that I will not frequent their
meetings, nor attend their expositions for the future, nor take
upon me to preach and expound the Scripture in the manner
practised by them." ^^
In August, 1742, Mr. Graves published a full retraction of
this pledge. Of this only the first paragraph is quoted here. It
is as follows : 'T believe myself indispensably obliged openly to
declare before God and the world that the motives whereby I was
induced to sign that paper were partly a sinful fear of man;
partly an improper deference to the judgment of those whom I
accounted wiser than myself, and lastly a resolution that, if my
own judgment should be at any time better informed, I would
then openly retract in the presence of God and man whatever I
should be convinced I had said and done amiss. Accordingly,
having now had (besides a strong conviction immediately conse-
quent thereon) many opportunities of informing my judgment
better, and being fully convinced of my fault, I do hereby declare
my sincere repentance for my wicked compliance with those
oppressive men, who without any color of law divine or human,
imposed such a condition of receiving a testimonial upon me."
*John Wesley, Journal, August 16, 1742.
176 EARLY METHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
In the other paragraphs he retracts all the remainder of the
paper except the articles and doctrines of the Church of Eng-
"On the 4th of April, 1742, Charles Wesley preached in his
turn before the University of Oxford.'* "Whether he ever
preached again in the same place does not appear." ^^
Of himself John Wesley says : "Friday, August 24, St.
Bartholomew's Day, I preached for the last time before the
University of Oxford (1744) . . .^^ it being determined that
when my next turn to preach came they would pay another person
to preach for me. And so they did twice or thrice, even to the
time that I resigned my fellowship." ^^ This he resigned June i,
1751,^^ and thus ended forever his connection as a Fellow with
the university, which he so greatly admired but which had
At Cambridge, in 1764, there was a group of Methodists
of which Rowland Hill was the center. Before going to the
university he had become a Methodist of the Calvinistic wing.^*
Mr. Hill was the son of Sir Rowland Hill, baronet of Hawkstone,
and the brother of Richard Hill, afterward Sir Richard Hill.
Consequently, his birth, position, and wealth gave him an in-
fluence and a protection which many others did not enjoy. How-
ever, Mr. Sidney informs us that "when he entered the university
Mr. Rowland Hill soon encountered the contempt he had ex-
pected to find there, and frequently he has said that he was,
merely on account of his religion, such a marked and hated
'■^John Wesley, Journal, August 16, 1742.
^"Thomas Jackson, Life of Charles Wesley, pp. 250, 251.
^'NoTE — Just eighty-two years earlier to a day occurred the ejection of
about two thousand dissenting ministers from the pulpits of the Church of
England. Among these were both of Wesley's grandfathers, the first John
Wesley, and Dr. Samuel Annesley. A great-grandfather also was ejected
about the same time. (John Wesley, Works, History of People Called Meth-
odist, par. 30.)
"John Wesley, Works, History of People Called Methodist, par. 30; also
Journal, August 24, 1744.
'John Wesley, Journal, June i, 1751.
^^Edwin Sidney, Life of Rev. Rowland Hill, p. 40.
THE UNIVERSITY AND THE METHODISTS 177
person that nobody in the college even gave him a cordial smile,
except the old shoeblack at the gate, who had the love of Christ
in his heart." ^^
Mr. Hill seems not to have been alone very long. He
succeeded in persuading some of his fellow students to join him.
But his "efforts were not confined to the gownsmen of the univer-
sity; he visited the jail and the sick, and commenced speaking
in several place in Cambridge and in the adjacent villages. This
unusual proceeding of an undergraduate brought down on him
the severest censure from his college, and insults from the
populace of the town." ^^
In 1767 matters seem to have reached a crisis. Tyerman
quotes Whitefield as writing : 'There is hot work at Cambridge.
One dear youth is likely to be expelled. Mr. Lee is suspended
without private admonition or having a moment's warning." ^'^
And again he writes, "Our dear Penty [probably Mr. Penty-
cross, a college friend of Rowland Hill] is under the cross at
Cambridge." ^^ Mr. Rowland Hill is mentioned as preaching at
one time when "some gownsmen were there, but were permitted
to do no more than gnash with their teeth." ^^ A friend writes
him concerning the college as follows : "The sum of their deter-
mination concerning me may be comprised in these few words —
that I immediately return to college, and that unless they receive
a letter of my recanting my present principles, which they (who
know not what they say nor whereof they affirm) declare are
contrary to the doctrines of the Christian Church, I am to
have no further benefit from them, and my exhibition of thirty
pounds to be withdrawn." ^^ We are not told that the recanta-
tion was made, nor that the exhibition was withdrawn. The
superiors of Mr. Hill "in the university condemned in the
^'^Edwin Sidney, Life of Rev. Rowland Hill, p. 34.
''Ibid, pp. 36fif.
"Tyerman, Life of George Whitefield, vol. ii, p. 535.
^^Edwin Sidney, Life of Rowland Hill, p. 46.
'^Ibid., p. 39.
*°Ibid., pp. 46, 47.
178 EARLY METHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
strongest terms his infringment of discipline. Hints of a refusal
of testimonials, and even degree were held out as the probable
result of his irregularities."^^ His sister is quoted as writing to
a friend that "to such a deplorable apostasy is the world come
that young men who are steadfastly attached to the church and
live exemplary lives can hardly get their testimonials signed for
orders."*^ And from letters of Whitefield, probably to Mr.
Hill, he was threatened with expulsion. Whitefield says : ''If
the expulsion should be permitted, it will take, I believe, only for
a little time, and soon be repented of."^^ "By your brother
Peter's letter, the hour of expulsion is not yet come. Surely,
they will not be so imprudent, or act so contrary to the laws of
English liberty. I long to know what statutes they say you have
broken." ^* From this it appears that the opposition grew
stronger. However, Mr. Hill was not expelled. In January,
1769, he received his degree, and on June 6, 1773, was admitted
to orders,*^ and soon became one of the leading preachers of
The Oxford and Cambridge Methodists were in close rela-
tions with each other, and, as their leaders corresponded, each
group was familiar with the proceedings of the other. Each
group knew of the threatenings at the other universit}^^^ These
threats appear to have been much the same. Only at Oxford the
threatenings were put into execution, and on March 11, 1768,
six students were expelled.
It appears that the Oxford Methodists were accustomed to
meet for religious exercises at the home of a Mrs. Durbridge,
the widow of a friend of Whitefield. The leader of this group
was Dr. Stillingfleet, Fellow of Merton College, and afterward
Prebendary of Worcester College and a writer. He was a friend
of Lady Huntingdon. He expounded the Scriptures and prayed,
""Edwin Sidney, Life of Rev. Rowland Hill, p. 40.
*^Ibid., p. 48.
"George Whitefield, Works, Letter dated London, August 26, 1767.
^*Ibid., Letter, London, October 23, 1767.
*''Edwin Sidney, Life of Rowland Hill, pp. 55 and 94.
^''Ibid., p. 49; Life of Countess of Huntingdon, vol. i, pp. 42iff.
THE UNIVERSITY AND THE METHODISTS 179
and invited the students to do the same, to which they complied.
This, together with their piety, unusual for the time, their zeal
and their preaching in the neighborhood, excited the ridicule of
the townsmen, and raised a storm about them in the university.*''
These students were Mr. Hallward, of Worcester College; Mr.
Foster, of Queen's College; Mr. Pugh, of Herford College; Mr.
Gordon, of Magdalene College; Mr. Clark, of Saint John's
College, besides the six students who suffered expulsion.*^
It was in the autumn of 1767 that their meetings became
known to the authorities of the university. They then were
threatened with the loss of standing, of degrees, of orders, and of
expulsion, but some of them thought it cowardly to desist merely
because their conduct attracted opposition.*^ However, Mr.
Richard Hill declares, and no one denies, that the six students
who were expelled "did abstain as soon as ever they were told
that their meetings were contrary to the will of those who had the
authority over them in the university, and not one of them had
been present at any such meetings for some months before their
expulsion, but all declared it was their determination not to
attend them again." ^^
It was in the spring of 1768 that the storm broke upon them
with all its fury. But the fury of the storm was directed against
SIX poor men of Saint Edmund Hall, who were without influential
friends to support them. The others, who were in more favor-
able circumstances, were permitted to complete their college
training without interruption.^^
*^Edwin Sidney, Life of Rowland Hill, p. 49; Life of Countess of
Huntingdon, vol. i, p. 421 ff.; also Dr. Nowell's Answer to Pietas Oxoniensis,
pp. 24, 25, 117.
^^Life of Countess of Huntingdon, vol. i, p. 422.
A good account of this may be found in Chapter V of the Rev. Edwin
Sidney's Life of Sir Richard Hill, Bart.
"'Ibid.; also Sidney, Life of Rowland Hill, p. 49.
''"Richard Hill, Pietas Oxoniensis, p. 23; also Answer to same by Dr.
Thomas Nowell, p. 45.
^'Tyerman, Life of George Whitefield, vol. ii, p. 544; Dr. Nowell's An-
swer to Pietas Oxoniensis, pp. 23ff. ; Pietas Oxoniensis, pp. 26ff.
i8o EARLY METHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
The trouble was started by Mr. John Higson, M.A., vice-
principal and tutor of Saint Edmund Hall, a person who was
subject to attacks of insanity. He first complained to the prin-
cipal of the Hall, Dr. Dixon, "that there were several enthusiasts
in that society who talked of regeneration, inspiration, and draw-
ing nigh to God." ^^ The principal, who knew the righteous
lives of the pupils, passed over the complaint as an indication of
recurring insanity. Mr. Higson then complained to David
Durell, D.D., vice-chancellor of the university and visitor of
Saint Edmund Hall, who listened with sympathetic ear, and pro-
ceeded to form a court, to appoint a time for the hearing, and to
bring the young men to trial. ^^
The conclave consisted of Dr. David Durell, vice-chancellor
of the university and visitor of Saint Edmund Hall; Dr. Thomas
Randolph, president of Corpus Christi College, etc. ; Dr. Thomas
Nowell, principal of Saint Mary's Hall; Dr. Thomas Fothergill,
provost of Queen's College, and the Rev. Francis Atterbury,
M.A., senior proctor of the university. The students arraigned
^vere Benjamin Kay, James Matthews, Thomas Jones, Thomas
Grove, Erasmus Middleton, Benjamin Blatch,^* and Joseph Ship-
inan.^^ They were cited to appear before the court by a notice
on the door of the Hall chapel. ^^ Dr. Dixon, who as principal
of their Hall knew them personally, "defended their doctrines
from the Thirty-Nine Articles of the Established Church, and
spoke in the highest terms of the piety and exemplariness of
their lives. But his motion was overruled and sentence pro-
nounced against them." ^^ At the conclusion of the trial the
'^■Pictas Oxoniensis, pp. 8ff. ; Nowell's Answer, p. lo.
'^^Nowell's Answer, p. i8.
"Note — Benjamin Blatch was not a Methodist. Very little is said of him,
except that he was dismissed as not having had any school learning, and not
being certain whether he should pursue a profession. (Nowell's Answer, p. 26,)
'■''^Ibid., p. 28.
'^"Pietas Oxoniensis, p. 14; Nowell's Answer, p. 21.
"Letter quoted in Goliath Slain, by Richard Hill, p. 193, Tyerman
Collection of Pamphlets, vol. cclvii; Pietas Oxoniensis, preface, p. 5; White-
field, Letter to Dr. Durell, Vice-Chancellor of Oxford, p. 21,
THE UNIVERSITY AND THE METHODISTS i8i
vice-chancellor was heard to say to Mr. Higson that for his good
work the whole university was much obliged to him.^^
The vice-chancellor of the university, as noted above, was
also visitor of Saint Edmund Hall, to which these students were
attached. ^^ The depositions were made before him as visitor of
the Hall, and not as vice-chancellor of the university, for the
trial 'Vas never pretended to be an university act; to constitute
it such, it must have had the sanction of convocation, to which
this complaint was not, nor, indeed, could with any propriety be
submitted." ^^ He pronounced the sentence by his visitorial
authority, in which capacity alone he acted by the advice of the
Heads of Houses. Thus it appears not to have been considered
a university affair, but merely a matter relating and confined to
the one Hall.
The expulsion created a great stir. The periodicals of the
time published accounts of it, and commented thereon. The
friends of the young men sent letters to these papers, and some,
who were not Methodists, wrote in behalf of the young men
and in behalf of what they believed to be justice.^^ Also
pamphlets and books were written in defense of the expelled
students. In these communications some very uncomplimentary
statements were made, which reveal to us an exceedingly un-
savory condition existing at the university. In some the vice-
chancellor and his court were vigorously assailed and unspar-
ingly condemned. Indeed, the publicity given to the affair, to-
gether with the vigor and strength of the attacks, compelled the
university men to take the field and to write in their own de-
fense. It is through these pamphlets and books of both parties
that one is able to discern the real issue at stake.
As the students were of the Calvinistic branch of Methodism,
naturally Whitefield was the first of the pamphleteers to write
"Richard Hill, Goliath Slain, p. 193; Nowell's Answer, p. 16.
''^Nowell's Answer, p. 18.
""Ibid., p. 5.
"See Goliath Slain, pp. I93ff. ; also Life of Countess of Huntingdon,
vol. i, p. 423.
i82 EARLY :\IETHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
in their behalf. On April 12, 1768, he published an open letter of
fifty pages to Dr. Durell, the vice-chancellor of the university,
defending the students. ^^ This is a production of considerable
strength, which appealed both to Scripture and to reason. Of
course he does not deny that they held Methodist doctrines of
the Calvinistic type, but he maintains that these are the doctrines
of the Church of England, and quotes the liturgy to prove his
contention. He does not deny that at times they used extempore
prayer, but he says, if that at all times is wrong, "what sinners,
what great sinners, must they have been who prayed and that
too out of necessity in an extempore way before any forms of
prayer were or could be printed or heard of!"^^ He con-
demns the expulsion as contrary both to the laws of man and
A former member of the university, who signs himself
''W. C," answered Whitefield.^* This is a weak attempt of sixty-
two pages at vindication, but a vociferous, and rather vulgar
attack upon the Methodists, and upon Methodist doctrine, which
the author is pleased to call ''enthusiastic rant." ^^ It shows
considerably more spleen than mental penetration or accuracy.
On May 14, 1768, the defense published another pamphlet
of sixteen pages entitled A Vindication of the Proceedings
against the Six Members of Edmund Hall, by a Gentleman of
the University.^^ This is a courteous and well-written document.
From it one gathers that the university made its own laws to
cover these cases, and determined of itself and by itself what
was a violation of these laws, and who was guilty in case of
violation. It also determined, so far as itself was concerned,
what were the doctrines of the Church of England, or, rather,
"Tyerman Collection of Pamphlets, vol. cclvii.
"Whitefield's Letter to Dr. Durell, p. 10, Tyerman Collection of Pam-
phlets, vol. cclvii.
"'Remarks upon Mr. Whitefield's Letter to Dr. Durell, Tyerman Collec-
tion of Pamphlets, vol. cclvii.
"^'Ibid., p. 2.
"'Tyerman Collection of Pamphlets, vols, clxvii and cclvii.
THE UNIVERSITY AND THE METHODISTS 183
how those doctrines were to be interpreted. In March, 1769,
a second edition of this pamphlet was pubHshed with notes and
an appendix.^ ^
On June i, 1768, the strongest attack of all was made upon
the court that expelled the students by Mr. Richard Hill, after-
ward Sir Richard Hill, who was a Master of Arts from the
University of Oxford. Unfortunately, like his younger brother
Rowland, Mr. Richard Hill was rather an intemperate writer,
and somewhat given to extravagance of expression, but his
pamphlet or book of one hundred and two octavo pages, entitled
Pietas Oxoniensis,^^ was so vigorous and so much to the point
that the monthly reviewers demanded an answer. One of them
says : "This is a well-digested and specious defense of the stu-
dents. We look upon it to be a pamphlet of such dangerous
tendency that it ought to be fully answered and refuted by the
gentlemen of Oxford, who are so freely attacked in it." ^^ Like
Whitefield, Mr. Hill used considerable space in defending the
doctrine of predestination. Yet he reserved sufficient room to
make some very pointed arguments, and to ask some exceedingly
annoying questions. This called forth the answer demanded by
At the trial one of the assessors, Dr. Thomas Nowell, took
notes of the proceedings chiefly for his own convenience/^ and
these remain the record of the trial. Being practically forced
into the field. Dr. Nowell published a one-hundred-and-fifty-
octavo-page answer to Pietas Oxoniensis, September 10, 1768.
It is a straightforward account of the matter, though not entirely
unprejudiced, and serves better than anything else published to
show the real attitude of the authorities of the university. Dr.
Nowell had the great advantage of having been present at the
trial, and of having notes upon it. Hence he could write from
"Tyerman Collection of Pamphlets, vol. clxvii,
®^Ibid., vols, clxvii and cclvii.
*®Quoted by Mr. Hill, Appended to Pietas Oxoniensis, p. 100.
'*'Noweirs Answer to Pietas Oxoniensis. p. 13, Tyerman Collection of
Pamphlets, vol cclvii.
i84 EARLY METHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
first-hand information/^ After the pronouncement of expulsion
two of the young men went to the vice-chancellor and asked for
a copy of the articles of accusation. This the vice-chancellor
refused to give.'''^ Mr. Hill got the articles as accurately as
possible from those who were present at the trial, and as they
remembered them. Whitefield asserts that the students "were
hissed at, pushed about, and treated in a manner that the vilest
criminal is not allowed to be; treated whether at the Old Bailey
or any court of justice in the kingdom. '"^^
Another matter of interest lies in the fact that one of their
accusers who had become drunken and had spoken disparagingly
of the Bible, had expressed sentiments of skepticism, and who
was known in the Hall as "the infidel," by signing a recantation
of his errors, was excused and later was promoted to orders. "^^
Also there were other and flagrant instances of the grossest
immorality which were passed over unnoticed, while the Meth-
odist students, against whose character no complaint was made,
were thus severely punished. Mr. Hill well laments that father-
ing illegitimate children should have been passed over without
expulsion, while administering the holy sacrament to an ass, for
which the perpetrator was expelled, should thus be ranked with
reading, praying extempore and expounding the Scriptures in a
It is asserted too by all the university writers that these
students were illiterate, thus classing them all together. Samuel
Johnson says of them, "Sir, they were examined, and found to
"'Note — In this chapter nothing is positively asserted concerning the ex-
pulsion of these students except what is acknowledged, or at least not denied,
by Dr. Nowell.
"Pietas Oxoniensis, p. 14; Nowell's Answer, p. 15.
'^George Whitefield, Letter to Dr. Durell, p. 19, Tyerman Collection of
Pamphlets, vol. cclvii.
Note — Dr. Nowell says that there was no mistreatment during the trial
and while sentence was pronounced. But he does not say a word about what
happened afterward. (See Nowell's Answer, pp. 143, 144, Tyerman Collec-
tion of Pamphlets, vol. cclvii.)
^^Pietas Oxoniensis, pp. 3 iff.; Nowell's Answer, pp. 57ff.
^^Ibid., pp. 26ff. ; Nowell's Answer, p. 50.
THE UNIVERSITY AND THE METHODISTS 185
be mighty ignorant fellows," and for this reason he believed that
their expulsion ''was extremely just and proper." '^^ This state-
ment was made four years after the expulsion, and coming from
such a source indicates that the general impression was false, as
will be shown later. In this the university writers were unfair,
as is shown by the articles of expulsion compared with state-
ments by their friends, which were not denied.
Following this answer by Dr. Nowell, on December 8, 1 768,
Mr. Hill published another pamphlet of two hundred and four-
teen pages entitled Goliath Slain. '^''' This is even more vigorous
than Pietas Oxoniensis. It deals extensively with the doctrinal
and legal phase of the matter, and also makes some strong and
new arguments, and asks some more pointed and embarrassing
questions. This was not answered.
Besides these there were other pamphlets, dialogues, satires,
and short articles. Apparently the most popular production of
the defense and by far the keenest satire of the whole controversy
was a pamphlet entitled Priestcraft Defended : A Sermon Occa-
sioned by the Expulsion of Six Young Gentlemen from the
University of Oxford, for Praying, Reading, and Expounding
the Scriptures. ''^^ It was written under the nom de plume of
"The Shaver." The writer pretends to be an illiterate barber,
who had turned preacher for the occasion, yet the keenness of
his satire, his learning, and the consistency of his style show
him to have been a man of culture."^^ This "Sermon" went
through at least twelve editions. The last, "corrected and much
enlarged," was published in 1771, which shows that the con-
troversy continued unabated for at least three years. The
preacher takes for his text the account of the expulsion of the
six students as it was given in the Saint James Chronicle, March
''^Boswell, Life of Sam. Johnson, G. B. Hill edition, vol. ii, p. 214.
"Tyerman Collection of Pamphlets, vol. cclvii.
■^^Tyerman Collection of Pamphlets, vols, cclvii and cclxvii.
"Note — Tyerman mentions the Rev. John MacGowan, minister of
Devonshire Square Chapel, London, as the author. (Tyerman. Life and
Times of John Wesley, vol. ii, p. 407. See also Life of Countess of Hunting-
don, vol. i, p. 423.)
i86 EARLY METHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
17, 1768. He emphasizes the following words of the text: "For
holding Methodistical tenets and taking upon them to pray, read,
and expound the Scriptures." He argues "that if the vice-
chancellor and heads of houses expelled these six offenders for
praying to God, it is natural to suppose that they are not guilty
of that crime themselves; otherwise they would fall under that
reproof of Romans 2. i."^^ "Six students! — What a miracle
was it, my beloved, that out of so many hundreds of students as
are at Oxford only six should be found guilty of praying, read-
ing, and expounding the Scriptures ! This shows the faithfulness
of their vigilant tutors, in guarding them against such pernicious
practices. Now from this observe : . . .
"i. That those six being expelled, now there are none left
in all the colleges who take upon them to pray, read, and ex-
pound the Scriptures. Therefore gentlemen may with safety
send their sons to that fountain of learning without fearing that
they will become religious, there being none left now to ensnare
them." *^ The "preacher" continues in this strain through the
As said before, the vice-chancellor refused a copy of the
articles of accusation to Mr. Jones and Mr. Middleton, who went
to him after the pronouncement of the sentence of expulsion and
asked for it. But the same opposition that compelled Dr. Nowell
to write in the defense of the authorities, also compelled him to
publish these articles. They are given here in full that the reader
may be his own judge as to the merits of the case. They are as
Before the reverend and worshipful David Durell, Doctor of
Divinity, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford, Visitor of
St. Edmund-Hall in the said University of Oxford, John Higson,
Master of Arts, Vice-Principal and Tutor of the said Hall, appointed
and admitted as such by Thomas Shaw, Doctor in Divinity, Principal
of the said Hall for the time being, in the year of our Lord one
""Sermon by The Shaver, p. 11, Tyerman Collection of Pamphlets,
•"Ibid., p. 13.
THE UNIVERSITY AND THE METHODISTS 187
thousand seven hundred and fifty-one, and approved and confirmed
by the reverend and worshipful John Brown, Doctor in Divinity,
Vice-Chancellor in the University of Oxford for the time being, as
the statutes in that case made and provided direct, begs leave to
propound and offer some articles of accusation against the following
persons, scholars of the said Hall, Benjamin Kay, James Matthews,
Thomas Jones, Thomas Grove, Erasmus Middleton, Benjamin Blatch,
and Joseph Shipman, and other matter relative thereto.
1st. That the aforesaid James Matthews, Thomas Jones, and
Joseph Shipman were bred to trades, and that the last three men-
tioned persons, as also Erasmus Middleton and Benjamin Blatch,
were at the respective time of entrance in the said Hall, and at
present are destitute of such a knowledge in the learned languages as
is necessary for performing the usual exercises of said Hall and of
2dly. That the aforesaid Benjamin Kay, James Matthews,
Thomas Jones, Thomas Grove, Erasmus Middleton, and Joseph Ship-
man are enemies to the doctrines and discipline of the Church of
England, which appeareth either by their preaching or expounding
in or frequenting illicit conventicles, and by several other actions
and expressions contrary to the statutes of the University and the
laws of this realm.
3dly. That the aforesaid Erasmus Middleton is, moreover, an
enemy to the doctrine and discipline of the Church of England as
appears by his officiating as a minister in holy orders, although a
layman, in the parish church at Chevely, or in one of the chapels of
ease belonging and appertaining unto the said church of Chevely
in the county of Berks, and diocese of Salisbury.
4thly. The aforesaid James Matthews, Erasmus Middleton,
and Benjamin Blatch have behaved indecently towards the said
Higson, Vice-Principal and Tutor, either by neglecting to attend his
lectures, or misbehaving themselves when at them ; or by going out
of the University without his, the said Higson's leave, contrary to
the discipline and good order of the said Hall.
5thly. That the above premises are true, public, and notorious,
and what the said parties named jointly and severally know in their
consciences to be true.
6thly. That by the statutes and usage of the University the
said Hall is notoriously subject to visitation of the Vice-Chancellor
of Oxford for the time being.
7thly, and lastly: That the said Higson from a regard to the
honor and welfare of the University in general, and the said Hall
in particular, and actuated by every principle, religious and civil,
makes this application to you the said Vice-Chancellor as Visitor;
and not confining himself to any superfluous proof, but only as far
as he shall prove in the premises that he may obtain in his prayer, he
prays that these persons against whom these articles are exhibited,
i88 EARLY METHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
may be treated and dealt with according to their demerits, and as
the statutes of the Hall and the University require, as far as it shall
seem good to your wisdom and justice, humbly imploring the aid of
your worship's office.
Oxon. St. Edmund-Hall, February the twenty-ninth, 1768.
Sworn before me on the day
and year above written,
D. DuRELL_, Vice-Chancellor.^2
The following are the notes taken by Dr. Newell at the trial :
Minutes of the accusation brought against James Matthews,
Thomas Jones, Joseph Shipman, Erasmus Middleton, Benjamin Kay,
Thomas Grove, and Benjamin Blatch of Edmund-Hall; their accu-
James Matthews. Accused that he was brought up to the trade
of a weaver — that he had kept a tap-house — confessed. Accused
that he is totally ignorant of the Greek and Latin languages, which
appeared by his declining all examination — said that he had been
under the tuition of two clergymen for five years — viz. Mr. Davies
and Newton, though it did not appear that he had during that time
made any proficiency in learning — was thirty years old — accused
of being a reputed Methodist, by the evidence of Mr. Atkins, for-
merly of Queen's College — that he was assistant to Mr. Davies, a
reputed Methodist, that he was instructed by Mr. Fletcher, a reputed
Methodist, — that he maintained the necessity of the sensible impulse
of the Holy Spirit — that he entered himself of Edmund-Hall with
a design to get into holy orders, for which he had offered himself
a candidate though he still continues to be wholly illiterate, and
incapable of doing the exercises of the Hall — proved — That he had
frequented illicit conventicles held in a private house in Oxford^^
— confessed. He produced two testimonials, one vouched by the
Bishop of Litchfield and Coventry, the other by the Bishop of
Thomas Jones. Accused that he had been brought up to the
^'Nowell's Answer, pp. i8ff., Tyerman Collection of Pamphlets, vol. cclvii.
'^^NoTE — The Methodists contended, and were sustained in their conten-
tion by the higher courts of England, that their meetings were not "illicit con-
venticles." It was one of these meetings that the students attended. The
government gave a liberal interpretation to the Toleration Act, and endeavored
to grant religious freedom. The King's Bench invariably remitted fines
against the Methodists, and never prosecuted them. The university held to
the views of the time of Charles II, interpreted the Conventicle Act by the
letter of the law, and refused to be governed by the spirit of the Toleration
THE UNIVERSITY AND THE METHODISTS 189
trade of a barber, which he had followed very lately — confessed —
Had made a very small proficiency in Greek and Latin languages —
was two years standing and still incapable of performing the statut-
able exercises of the Hall — that he had been at the meetings at Mrs.
Durbridge's — that he had expounded the Scriptures to a mixed con-
gregation at AVheaton-Aston, tho not in holy orders, and prayed
extempore. All this he confessed. He urged in his defense that he
had asked his Tutor whether he thought it wrong for him to pray or
instruct in a private family, and that his Tutor answered, he did not,
which, he said, was the reason of his continuing to do it.
Joseph Shipman. Accused that he had been brought up to the
trade of a draper, and that he was totally illiterate ; which appeared
on his examination — accused that he had preached or expounded to
a mixed assembly of people, tho not in orders, and pra3'ed extempore
— all of which he confessed.
Erasmus ]\Iiddleton — confesses to have done duty in a chapel
of ease belonging to Chevely, not being in holy orders, three years
before he entered of the University, but not since. That he was
discarded by his father for being connected with the iMethodists —
That he had been refused orders by the Bishop of Hereford, that
he had written a letter to the Bishop acknowledging his fault, and
recanting his errors — That he was now in hopes of being reconciled
to his father — That he had been maintained by friends, but did not
explain who these friends were — accused that he was deficient in
learning — that he was attached to Air. Haweis, who had boasted
that they should be able to get him into holy orders. That he holds
that faith without works is the sole condition of salvation — that the
immediate imipulse of the Spirit is to be waited for — that he denies
all necessity of work — that he had taken frequent occasion to perplex
and vex his Tutor — Part of this charge, especially concerning his
tenets, he denied, tho proved by the evidence of two gentlemen of
the Hall. 84
Benjamin Kay. Confesses that he had been present at the
meetings held in the house of Airs. Durbridge where he had heard
extempore prayers frequently offered up by one Hewett, a staymaker,
that sometimes Mrs. Durbridge had read to them — accused that he
endeavored to persuade a young man of Magdalen-College, who
was sent into the country for having been tainted with Calvinistic
Methodistical principles, to leave his father — that he talked of their
meeting with great opposition, meaning from the University — of this
there was not sufficient evidence — that he holds the Spirit of God
w^orks irresistiblv — that once a child of God, ahvavs a child of God —
**NoTE — One of these was Mr. Welling, against whose "infidelity" Mr.
Middleton had complained. (Pietas Oxoniensis, p. 31; Nowell's Answer,
190 EARLY METHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
that he holds absokite election — that he had endeavored to instil the
same principles into others, and exhorted them to continue stead-
fastly in them against all opposition. Some of these tenets he
seemed to deny tho it was fully proved by the evidence of Mr. Well-
ing, commoner of the Hall.
Thomas Grove — accused that he had preached to a mixed
assembly of people called Methodists, not being in orders, which he
confessed, and likewise that he prayed extempore — that he could not
fall down upon his knees, and worship God in the form of the
church of England, though he thought it a good form; proved by
the evidence of Mr. Bromhead.^^
The above notes were carefully examined when the court
met after the trial at the vice-chancellor's lodgings. Some par-
ticulars not mentioned in them were recollected, the whole accu-
sation, proof and defense was considered, and a unanimous
decision was reached as to the punishment. ^"^ The sentence wdiich
was pronounced by the vice-chancellor is as follows :
Oxford, March nth, 1768.
I. It having appeared to me D. Durell, Vice-Chancellor of the
University of Oxford, and undoubted Visitor of St. Edmund-Hall
within the said University, upon due information and examination,
that James Matthews of the said Hall had been originally brought
up to the trade of a weaver, and afterwards followed the low occu-
pation of keeping a taphouse ; that, afterwards, having connected
himself with known Methodists, he did, without any the least pro-
ficiency in school knowledge, enter himself of St. Edmund-Hall,
aforesaid with a design to get into holy orders ; and that he still
continues to be wholly illiterate, incapable of doing the statutable
exercises of the Hall, and consequently more incapable of being
qualified for holy orders, for which he had lately offered himself a
candidate. Moreover, it having appeared by his own confession that
he had frequented illicit conventicles held in a private house in the
city of Oxford — therefore, I. D. Durell, by virtue of my Visitatorial
power, and with the advice and opinion of the Reverend Thomas
Randolph, D.D., President of C. C. C [Corpus Christi College]
and Margaret Professor of Divinity in this University ; of the
Reverend Thomas Fothergill, D.D., Provost of Queen's College ; of
the Reverend Thomas Nowell, D.D., Principal of St. Mary-Hall,
and public orator; and of the Reverend Francis Atterbury, M.A.,
Senior Proctor of this University, my several assessors, regularly
"•'Nowell's Answer, pp. 23fi.
''Ibid., p. 27.
THE UNIVERSITY AND THE METHODISTS 191
appointed on this occasion, do expel the said James ^Matthews from
the said Hall, and do hereby pronounce him expelled.
II. It having also appeared to me that Thomas Jones of St.
Edmund-Hall had been brought up to the trade of a barber, which
occupation he followed very lately; that he had made but a small
proficiency in learning, and w^as incapable of performing the statut-
able exercises of the said Hall ; and, moreover, it having appeared
by his own confession that he had frequented illicit conventicles in
a private house in this town, and that he had himself held an assembly
for public worship at Wheaton-Aston, in which he himself, though
not in holy orders, had publicly expounded the Holy Scriptures to
a mixed congregation, and offered extempore prayers — Therefore,
I, D. Durell, by virtue of my Visitatorial power, and with the advice
and opinion of each and every one of my assessors, the reverend
persons aforenamed, do expel the said Thomas Jones from the said
Hall, and hereby pronounce him also expelled.
III. It having also appeared to me that Joseph Shipman of St.
Edmund-Hall aforesaid had been a draper ; was very illiterate, and
incapable of performing the statutable exercises of the said Hall.
Moreover, it having appeared by his own confession that he had
expounded publicly, though not in holy orders, the Holy Scriptures
to a mixed congregation, and offered up extempore prayers — There-
fore, I, D. Durell by virtue of my Visitatorial power and with the
advice and opinion of each and every one of my assessors, the
reverend persons aforenamed, do expel the said Joseph Shipman
from the said Hall, and hereby pronounce him also expelled.
IV. It having also appeared to me that Erasmus Middleton of
St. Edmund-Hall, aforesaid, by his own confession had formerly
officiated in the chapel of ease belonging to the parish of Chevely
in the county of Berks, not being in holy orders ; that he had been
rejected from holy orders by the Bishop of Hereford for the said
offense ; that he was discarded by his father for being connected with
the people called Methodists ; and that he still lies under his father's
displeasure for the same. Moreover, it having appeared by creditable
witnesses that he is still connected with the said people, and professes
their doctrines ; viz. that ''Faith without works is the sole condition
of salvation ; that there is no necessity of works — that the immediate
impulse of the Spirit is to be waited for." — Therefore, I. D. Durell,
by virtue of my Visitatorial power, and with the advice and opinion
of each and every one of my assessors, the reverend persons afore-
mentioned, do expel the said Erasmus Middleton from the said Hall,
and hereby pronounce him also expelled.
V. It having also appeared to me that Benjamin Kay of the
said Hall, by his own confession, had frequented illicit conventicles
in a private house in this town, where he had heard extempore
prayers frequently offered up by one Hewett, a staymaker. More-
over, it having been proved by sufficient evidence that he held
192 EARLY METHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
Methodistical principles, viz, "the doctrine of absolute election ; that
the Spirit of God works irresistibly ; that once a child of God, always
a child of God," that he had endeavored to instill the same principles
into others, and exhorted them to continue stedfastly in them against
all opposition. Therefore, I, D. Durell, by virtue of my Visitatorial
power, and with the advice and opinion of each and every one of
my assessors, the reverend persons before mentioned, do expel the
said Benjamin Kay from the said Hall, and hereby pronounce him
VI. It having also appeared to me that Thomas Grove of St.
Edmund-Hall, aforesaid, though not in holy orders, had by his own
confession, lately preached to an assembly of people called Methodist
in a barn, and had offered up extempore prayers in that congrega-
tion. — Therefore, I, D. Durell, by virtue of my Visitatorial power,
and with the advice and opinion of each and every one of my
assessors, the reverend persons before named, do expel the said
Thomas Grove from the said Hall, and hereby pronounce him
It v^ill be of interest at this juncture to compare the treat-
ment of these six Methodist students with that of Mr. Welling,
a young man who was far from being a Methodist. Of the
characters of the expelled young men the principal of their Hall,
Dr. Dixon, declared to the court and to Mr. Hill personally, "that
he never remembers in his own or any other college six youths
whose lives were so exemplary, and who behaved themselves in a
more humble, regular, peaceable manner." ^^ In contrast to this
Mr. Welling was accused of drunkenness and blasphemy. The
offense occurred on June 24, 1767, but formal charges were not
filed till March 12, 1768,^^ the day following the expulsion of the
six students. His recantation was not made until May 9 ; nearly
a month after the attack by Whitefield. Probably the matter
cannot be outlined more clearly than by giving in full Mr.
Welling's recantation. It is as follows :
Whereas, it hath been alleged upon oath before the Reverend the
Vice-Chancellor, against me, John Welling, that on the 24th of June,
1767, in conversation with Mr. Wright and Mr. Middleton of
•^^Nowcll's Answer, pp. 28ff.
^Tietas Oxoniensis, Dedication, p. 5.
""Nowell's Answer, pp. 57, 59.
THE UNIVERSITY AND THE METHODISTS 193
Edmund Hall in this University, I made use of certain expressions
tending to disparage the truth of revelation, and in particular the
miracles of Moses; I do hereby declare my unfeigned assent to, and
belief of, divine revelation in general, and of the miracles wrought
by Moses in particular: and I do aver that I was intoxicated in
liquor (for which very criminal excess I am most sincerely sorry)
when I uttered those expressions ; and, whereas, by the use of those
expressions I have given but too just occasion of scandal and offense
to the Vice-Chancellor and Members of this University : I do hereby
ask pardon of them for the same, and I do further most solemnly
protest that, however unguarded I may have been in the use of
those, or any expressions whatsoever concerning religion, they were
not declarative of my real principles, inasmuch as those principles
are and ever have been, and I trust will ever continue to be,
diametrically opposite to skepticism and infidelity, which from my
heart I detest and abhor.
Witness my hand,
Sworn before me the Ninth
day of May, 1768.
D. DuRELL, Vice-Chancellor.
We whose names are underwritten do certify that John Welling
read the above declaration publicly in congregation, this tenth day of
D. DuRELL, Vice-Chancellor.
E. Whitmore, Junior Proctor.
B. Wheeler^ Senior Proctor.^^
Upon this expression of concern for his misconduct Mr.
Welling was not only allowed to pursue his course, but shortly-
after was recommended for orders.^ ^ The Methodist students
expressed concern also for their misconduct,^^ and some pleaded
for readmission, but this was denied to them all.^^
Mr. Sidney is of the opinion that there can be no question that
these young men had in some degree deviated from the course
prescribed by the statutes of the university, but he thinks that at
the utmost a reprimand from their superiors would have been
^Nowell's Answer, p. 62.
^'Goliath Slain, p. 32.
''Ibid., p. 31.
'^Nowell's Answer, p. 67.
194 EARLY METHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
punishment sufficiently severe.^^ It seems clear from the articles
of the Church of England that to take upon themselves any of
the functions of a clergyman without ordination was strictly
forbidden.^^ This they unquestionably violated. However, to
enter into the legal discussion of the matter doubtless would be
to open an endless controversy. Opinions differed in 1768, and
may differ still. Therefore the legal aspect is left for church
lawyers to unravel.
Tyerman, however, suggests that in singing, reading the
Scriptures, and praying in private houses they were not alone,
for ''Dr. Stillingfleet, Fellow of Merton College, and afterward
Prebendary of Worchester; Mr. Foster, of Queen's College;
Mr. Pugh, of Hertford College; Mr. Gordon, of Magdalene;
Mr. Clark, of St. John's, and Mr. Hallward, of Worchester
College, had done just the same." ^^ In 1736 Whitefield speaks
of "exhorting and teaching the prisoners and poor people at
their private houses while at the university." ^"^ Indeed, it is a
well-known fact that this was the custom of the first "Meth-
odists" while at Oxford. And to some extent at least it had
been a custom of long standing, for Mr. Samuel Wesley, father
of John and Charles, did the same.^"^'
Again, Mr. Hill asserts that literary deficiency could not be
attributed to them all. For he says, "Mr. Middleton passed his
examination honorably, and offered to produce copies of all his
college exercises," and that "Mr. Kay must be acknowledged by
his most bitter enemies to be well skilled in academic learning."
He also asks, "Can their tutor deny that they made considerable
progress in their learning since they entered at the Hall?" ^® To
all this Dr. Nowell makes a positive, but general reply, saying
that their tutor "can and did deny it; this was a part of his
"Edwin Sidney, Life of Sir Richard Hill, p. 105.
"•"'See Article 23.
"'Tyerman, Life of Whitefield, vol. ii, p. 544; see also Life of Countess
of Huntingdon, vol. i, p. 421.
"^Whitefield, Works, Letter to Mr. H., June 30, 1736.
"'John Whitehead, Life of John Wesley, vol. i, p. 260.
**Pietas Oxoniensis, p. 29.
THE UNIVERSITY AND THE METHODISTS 195
charge against them, and their examination showed that they had
made no such progress." He also affirms that their examination
was very easy.^^
Mr. Hill further affirms, and he produces statements from
the daily press to the same effect, that '*Dr. Dixon, their prin-
cipal, observed to Mr. Vice-Chancellor that, if others were
questioned concerning their knowledge in the learned languages
it would appear that very many were equally, if not more defi-
cient than any of the six expelled gentlemen. ... If the tutor
himself will please recollect, he will find that he now has, and
at the very same period had, a certain illiterate pupil, . . . which
pupil, he desired might be admitted a member of the Hall, when
between thirty and forty years old, that he might just keep his
terms, and get into orders."^^^ . . . That ''Mr. Higson had intro-
duced two or three other pupils of the same stamp, particularly
one Mr. , who though he had been at a public school, and is
now more than four years standing in the University, is equally
deficient in the learned languages with any of the young men,
who w^ere expelled; seldom if ever, attends the tutor's lectures."
. . . That "Mr. B 1 was another of Mr. Higson's pupils,
whom he himself, brought to the Hall before Dr. Dixon was
principal; and often boasted that he taught him the first rudi-
ments of grammar at the university." ^^^ To this Dr. Nowell
makes the simple reply, "I hope not," and adds that, if it be true,
charges should have been made, and the vice-chancellor doubtless
would have heard them.^^^ But to the accusation, however, he
makes no positive denial.
Furthermore, Whitefield declares that "it is notorious and
obvious to all intelligent persons that the grand cause of these
young men's expulsion was this, namely, that they were either
real or reputed Methodists." ^^^ A "Gentleman of the Univer-
^"Nowell's Answer, p. 52.
""Goliath Slain, p. 193 ; Pietas Oxoniensis, p. 30.
"^Pietas Oxoniensis, p. 30, footnote,
^"^Nowell's Answer, p. 53.
"^Letter to Dr. Durell, Tyerman Collection of Pamphlets, vol. cclvii.
196 EARLY ^lETHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
sity/' who wrote in defense of the action of the vice-chancellor,
says : "The propagation of their tenets alone would have been
sufficient cause for expulsion." ^^* . . . "The reason given was
very tuisatis factory, as the want of learning in the expelled mem-
bers w^as, at most, but a secondary cause of their expulsion." ^^^
George Birkbeck Hill, D.L.C., of Pembroke College, Oxford,
writing in 1889 of the event, says, "Nominally they were ex-
pelled for their ignorance; in reality for their active Method-
ism." ^^^ But even nominally they were not all expelled for
ignorance. In the Articles of Accusation by their tutor desti-
tution of knowledge in the learned languages was not alleged
against Benjamin Kay or Thomas Grove. In the Articles of
Expulsion by the vice-chancellor destitution of learning was not
alleged against Benjamin Kay, Thomas Jones, or Erasmus
Middleton. Undoubtedly they were expelled primarily because
they were Methodists. This view was held by all their friends.
It was voiced to some extent at least, and quite strongly through
the public press. It is confirmed by suggestions from the prin-
cipal of the Hall, Dr. Dixon; by the statements and omissions
in the Articles of Accusation and Expulsion, and also acknowl-
edged by "A Gentleman of the University," who wrote in its
defense. Dr. Nowell seemed pleased that the Methodists' "views
of filling the church with their votaries have by this seasonable
interposition been disappointed, and the plan, w^hich they have
for some time been laboring to accomplish, is at present discon-
certed at least, if not entirely defeated." ^^^
^°'A Vindication of Proceedings, ist edition, p. 13.
"'A Vindication of Proceedings, 2d edition, Appendix, p. 34.
^^'^G. B. Hill Edition Boswell's Life of Samuel Johnson, vol. ii, p„ 214.
^"^Nowell's Answer, Preface, p. i.
Note — In August, 1768, Lady Huntingdon opened her school at Trevecka.
Among those who entered was Mr. Shipman. Two years later he died of
consumption, which he contracted while he was preaching. (Methodist
Magazine, 1788, p. 515; Sidney, Life of Richard Hill, pp. 523ff.)
Mr. Matthews was also admitted to Lady Huntingdon's college at
Trevecka. (Life of Countess of Huntingdon, vol. i, p. 425, footnote.)
After his expulsion Mr. Jones was much noticed by Lady Huntingdon;
was ordained; became curate of Clifton, near Birmingham; married the
THE UXIVERSITY AXD THE METHODISTS 197
On March 15, 1769, Joseph Benson entered his name at
the University of Oxford. From that time he regularly re-
mained at Saint Edmund Hall, and was "conscientiously atten-
tive to the studies and obligations of his situation." ^^^ It was
his intention to continue at Oxford till he should graduate, but
was discouraged by the opposition of his tutor, to whom he con-
fessed his connection with Lady Huntingdon and with Wesley,
together with some irregularities which these connections occa-
sioned. ^^^ While classical master at the Kingswood School, in
1768, it was his custom to hold meetings among the cohiers, to ex-
hort them and to pray with them. Also while tutoring at Lady
Huntingdon's school at Trevecka, in 1770, probably during vaca-
tions at Oxford, he was accustomed to go out into the village on
Sundays and preach to the poor and ignorant inhabitants. His
tutor, Mr. Bowerbank, informed him that on these accounts he
would never sign his testimonials for orders. He also refused
to act any longer in the capacity of tutor to him, and this he
refused to do even though Air. Benson should agree for the
future to omit everything of this kind, and to reside wholly at
the university. This he could have done at that time, as he was
no longer connected with either Lady Huntingdon or with
Wesley. However, he was obliged to leave the university. ^^^
Mr. Benson continued to seek admission to the church. He
succeeded in getting testimonials from a beneficed clerg}'man in
Wales, but he was refused ordination by the bishop because of a
lack of a college degree. Nothing remained for him then but to
sister of Cowper's friend, the Lady Austin, and died rather suddenly at a
good old age. (Ibid.)
Mr. Middleton was supported at Cambridge by Mr. Fuller, the banker,
a dissenter, and ordained in Ireland by a bishop of Down. In Scotland he
married into a branch of the ducal family of Gordon. In London he was
made curate to Romaine and Cadogan. There he wrote his Biographia
Evangelica, an octavo publication of four volumes, containing more than two
thousand pages, published in 1816. (Ibid.)
^^''James MacDonald, Memoirs of Jos. Benson, p. 21.
'"'Ibid., p. 24.
""Ibid., p. 2S.
198 EARLY :\IETHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
return to the Methodists, which he did/^^ and became one of
A\^esley's able supporters.
The Arminian Magazine gives an account of the experience
of Robert Roe at Oxford. He appears to have completed the
entire course and in 1777 to have passed his college examination
''cum laude," but was denied advancement to the university
examinations, and to the degree. He was told that his advance-
ment was about to be offered, but some persons objected to it;
"not that they objected to your morals, or your conduct, for
these are unquestionable, but you attend illicit conventicles."
When he denied this, saying that the meetings were legalized, the
principal replied, "What comes to the same in our eyes is that
you have, and do frequent the meetings of the people called
^Methodists." This he acknowledged, but denied that he ever
preached, expounded, or prayed. They refused also to give him
an honorable dismissal, or a transfer to another college, or even
a written statement of the fact that it was merely because he
attended the meetings of the Methodists that they had dealt thus
with him. They feared lest he should use it as a means to enter
another college, which he very much wished to do.
The young man was quite persistent in his efforts to persuade
the instructors to permit his advancement, but without success.
His father, who was unfriendly to the Methodists, also persisted.
He went to Oxford, then wrote a letter in which he said "that
they will hear of nothing; that subscribing to the Articles,
Homilies, or Discipline" would not satisfy, unless the young man
"go and reside there three years and forsake the Methodists."
Both of which he refused to do, and consequently never received
a degree. ^^^
In 1 78 1 Wesley spoke of the expulsion of the six students,
and mentions a Mr. Seagar as having been refused the liberty
of entering the university. These circumstances, he said, had
forced him to see that neither he nor any of his friends need
'"James MacDonald, Memoirs of Joseph Benson, p. 27.
"^Methodist Magazine, 1784, pp. I34ff.
THE UNIVERSITY AND THE METHODISTS 199
expect either favor or justice there.^^^ And the old man turned
sorrowfully away from the institution which he had so fondly
loved, and which he had so often visited during his long and busy
career. Henceforth his affections appear to have been trans-
ferred to his own school at Kingswood. And Methodists seem
entirely to have disappeared from Oxford, which had been so
dear to all its founders, and was the cradle of its origin.
^John Wesley, Works, Plain Account of Kingswood School, par. 16.
THE METHODISTS VILIFIED
John Richard Green says a "savage ferocity . . . charac-
terized political controversy in the England of the Revolution
and the Georges. Never has the strife of warring parties been
carried on with so utter an absence of truth or fairness ; never has
the language of political opponents stooped to such depths of
coarseness and scurrility. From the age of Bolingbroke to the
age of Burke the gravest statesmen were not ashamed to revile
one another with invective only worthy of the fish-market. And
outside of the legislature the tone of attack was even more brutal.
Grub-street ransacked the whole vocabulary of abuse to find
epithets for Walpole. Gay, amid general applause, set the states-
men of his day on the public stage in the guise of highwaymen
and pickpockets. Tt is difficult to determine,' said the witty
playwright, 'whether the fine gentlemen imitate the gentlemen of
the road or the gentlemen of the road the fine gentlemen.' " ^
The same spirit entered into the writings of the pamphleteers
and publishers who took up the pen against the Methodists.
Almost every imaginable form of abuse was heaped upon Wesley
and his colaborers. Men who held the highest stations within
the gift of the church were guilty of publishing rumors upon
hearsay evidence, when the facts in the case could have been
discovered, had a proper sense of fairness prompted them to
make the effort. Methodism was not hidden. Its meeting places
were well known. A careful opponent either would have gone
himself, or sent a substitute, to determine the truth of the rumor
before publishing it. Also, statements were made even by bishops
upon the authority of a second person, and without even so much
as consulting the person concerned. And these statements were
']. R. Green, History of the English People, vol. iv, p. 120, or p. 115.
THE METHODISTS VILIFIED 201
published in pamphlets to be distributed over the three kingdoms,
to work whatever mischief they might.
Moreover, had the Methodists been guilty of one half of
the outrages, corruption, and crimes of which they were accused,
it would have been very easy to rid the nation of them. Sufficient
evidence to convict them before the government courts should
have been produced, and the hangman's rope would speedily
have done the rest. For that was an age when traitors and
criminals were worked off on the gallows by the dozen or by
the score at a time.
In January, 1739, Whitefield took leave of his friends at
Oxford and reached London, where, he says, he met with the
first pamphlet published against him. This was written by a
clergyman.^ But the time was not far distant when there were
plenty of pamphlets, as well as rumors. What time the Meth-
odist leaders had to spare from their busy lives was consumed in
answering accusations and arguments. Southey says, *The
strangest suspicions and calumnies were circulated ; and men will
believe any calumnies, however preposterously absurd, against
those of whom they are disposed to think ill." ^
John Wesley, being the leader of this movement, naturally
suspicions and calumnies centered about him. In August, 1739,
he spent two hours with a zealous man, laboring to convince
him that he was not an enemy to the Church of England.* At
this time the report was current in Bristol that he was a papist,
if not a Jesuit. Some said that he was born and reared in
Rome.^ These reports became common throughout the nation,
and were believed by many. He was accused of taking the
Pretender with him into Cornwall under the name of John
Downes. It was reported that he called himself John Wesle3^
whereas everybody knew that Wesley was dead.^ It was
'George Whitefield, Journal, p. 117.
^Southey, Life of John Wesley, vol. ii, p. 25.
*John Wesley, Journal, August 27, 1739.
^Ibid., April 16, 1744; above, p. 137.
202 EARLY IMETHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
asserted that he had been seen with the Pretender in France;
and others said that he was in prison in London."^ Rumor had
it that he was convicted of seUing gin and fined twenty pounds ;
besides, he kept two popish priests in his house. One man said
he had heard, "That it was beyond dispute, Mr. Wesley had large
remittances from Spain, in order to make a party among the
poor; and as soon as the Spaniards landed he was to join them
with twenty thousand men." ^ At the time of the insurrection,
in Scotland, 1745, it w^as asserted that he was then with the
Pretender in Edinburgh.^ Another said he would make affidavit
that ''he himself saw" John Wesley "administer extreme unction
to a woman, and give her a wafer, and say, that was her pass-
port to heaven." ^^ After the failure of the last effort of the
Pretender to gain the English throne, these reports were less
credited, but the idea of popery was kept before the public mind
by pamphlets and comparisons till the time of Wesley's death.
He was also declared to be a deceiver of the people. A
woman was accused of robbing her master of three hundred
pounds, and was threatened to be put in irons unless she would
confess that she had given the money to Wesley. The money
was afterward found where the master himself had left it.^^
Bishop Lavington accused him in print, upon the alleged state-
ment of a Mrs. Morgan at Mitchell, of having made indecent
proposals to her maid. In the presence of Mr. Trembath and
Mr. Haime, the woman denied to Wesley that she had ever
made any such statement. ^^ Wesley, however, was "not sure
that she had not said just the contrary to others." ^^ Thereupon
the Bishop furnished his witnesses to prove that Mrs. Morgan
had made the statement which he had published. But he seemed
^John Wesley, Journal, April 7, 1744.
^Ibid., August 26, 1741.
"Ibid., November, 1745.
'"Charles Wesley, Journal, April 5, 1745.
"Ibid., May 8, 1740; October 8, 1740.
'"Bishop of Exeter, Answer to John Wesley's Late Letter; John Wesley,
Works, Letter to Author of Methodism and Papists compared.
'■''John Wesley, Journal, August 25, 1750.
THE METHODISTS VILIFIED 203
to have felt no obligation whatever to prove the fact of his
accusation. The maid concerned seems not to have been ques-
tioned at all about the matter.
He was accused of extorting one hundred pounds from his
society. ^^ At Athlone, Ireland, it was reported that he had run
away with another man's wife.^^ At Brandon a gentlewoman
informed him that Dr. B. had averred to her and to many others,
I, "that both John and Charles Wesley had been expelled from
the University of Oxford long ago; 2, That there was not a
Methodist left in Dublin; all the rest having been rooted out by
order of government; 3, That neither were there any Methodists
left in England ; and 4, That it was all Jesuitism at the bottom." ^^
Unhappily and unfortunately, Methodism soon divided into
two sections, Arminian and Calvinistic. So long as Whitefield
lived, friendship and cooperation were maintained. But shortly
after his death, in 1770, a most deplorable controversy arose,
led on the Calvinistic side by two young men, the Rev. Augustus
Toplady and the Rev. Rowland Hill. The Methodists emphasized
the necessity of the new birth, or the transferring, so far as
possible, over into life and conduct of the principles and character
of the Christ. That one of this faith should imbibe a spirit of
bitterness and rancor is quite incomprehensible. Yet Mr. Top-
lady seemed to have drunk quite deeply of this uncharitable
fountain. The following was from a young man concerning
another whose age at least should have commanded respect :
"What shall we say of a man who first hatches blasphemy, and
then fathers it on others? Nay, who adds crime to crime by
indirectly persisting in the falsehood even after the falsehood has
been detected and publicly exposed ?" . . . He "writes a known,
willful, palpable lie to the public." ^^ "Either he is absolutely
unacquainted with the first principles of reasoning, or he offers
"John Wesley, Journal, July 13, I747-
^^Charles Wesley, Journal, September i, 1748.
^"John Wesley, Journal, June 2, 1749.
^'Toplady, More Work for Mr. John Wesley, pp. 7ff,, Tyerman Collec-
tion of Pamphlets, vol. ccx.
204 EARLY METHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
up the knowledge he has as an whole burnt sacrifice on the altar
of malice, calumny, and falsehood." ^^ "No man in the world is
more prone to put things in people's mouths, which they never
said or thought of than John Wesley. . . . But 'tis more prob-
able that 'twas forged and dressed up for the occasion." ^^
Charles Wesley was not a great organizer as was his brother,
nor so great a preacher as either his brother or Whitefield.
Moreover, he seems not to have participated in the numerous
controversies in which the Methodists were engaged. He was
the great hymn writer of the trio, and this attracted less atten-
tion and less opposition than the theology that they preached.
Therefore, while he was reviled, he seems to have escaped those
bitter personal invectives, which were so commonly heaped upon
his brother and upon Whitefield. Usually, the accusations against
which he had to contend were those which were heaped upon
the Methodists in general, rather than against personal abuse.
Whitefield was more unfortunate than either of the Wesleys.
He began his ministry when very young. He was ordained when
a little past twenty-one, and was a well-known evangelist at
twenty-five.^^ At Oxford he had been a servitor, which of
necessity took time from his studies. Hence he had neither the
experience nor the learning of the Wesleys. He was, moreover,
less judicious than his friends. He made statements which gave
to his opponents the opportunity upon which they most vigor-
ously seized. With maturer years he saw his errors, acknowl-
edged his fault, and offered apologies. At this his opponents
called him a self-confessed hypocrite. It was, in fact, but the
promptings of a generous and honest nature. Moreover, he
attracted the masses as no other preacher in England, which
aroused jealousies. Besides, he was a great actor preacher.^^
Therefore he could be mimicked. "Being a generous and sensitive
"Toplady, More Work for Mr. John Wesley, p. 24.
^"Toplady, The Scheme of Christian and Philosophic Necessity Asserted,
[47, Tyerman Collection of Pamphlets, vol. clxxxviii.
•'Tyerman, Life of George Whitefield, vol. i, p. 45.
^'Southey, Life of John Wesley, vol. i, p. 152.
THE METHODISTS VILIFIED 205
nature, he doubtless suffered keenly from the scurrility and mis-
representations heaped upon him. However, he persisted un-
flaggingly in his work, and not without rewards, for he had many
friends, as well as enemies. Only a few references will be
necessary to show the nature of this published opposition.
In 1744 there was published a pamphlet entitled A Letter
to the Rev. Mr. Whitefield, Occasioned by his Pretended Answer
to the . . . Observations ... on the Methodists, By a Gentle-
man of Pembroke-College, Oxford.^^ This is a rude, personal
attack, and is of no interest except as it reveals the rancor even
of a college man. In it are such remarks as the following : "Your
letter is stuffed with the coaxing and wheedling of the woman,
the daring of the rebel, the pertness of the coxcomb, the evasions
of the Jesuit, and the bitter maliciousness of the bigot." ^^ . . .
"You can coax with all the sincerity too of the woman, whilst
spleen and rancor lurk in your heart; that you are crafty and
malicious enough to be suspected of any wicked enterprise." ^*
In 1760 Whitefield says, "I am now mimicked and bur-
lesqued upon the public stage." ^^ And, indeed, he was, as the
following will show. Owing to an illness in his childhood, one
eye was squinted.^^ From this his revilers often called him Dr.
Squintum. Under this name he was introduced upon the stage.
Samuel Foote is said to have possessed a wonderful faculty
for mimicry. He could imitate even the vocal intonations of his
subject. ^^ Of this faculty Dr. Samuel Johnson says : "It is not
a talent, it is a vice; it is what others abstain from. It is not
comedy which exhibits the character of a species, as that of a
miser gathering from many miners; it is farce, which exhibits
individuals." ^^ This vice, as Dr. Johnson called it, was Foote's
making, and finally his undoing.
^"Tyerman Collection of Pamphlets, vol. clxvi.
■^Letter to Whitefield, p. i ; Tyerman Collection of Pamphlets, vol. clxvi.
"Ibid., p. 19
^^George Whitefield Works, Letter, August 15, 1760.
^^Tyerman, Life of George Whitefield, vol. i, p. 51.
"Life of Countess of Huntingdon, vol. i, p. 208, note.
^^Boswell's Life of Samuel Johnson, vol. i, p. 2)7Z-
2o6 EARLY T^IETHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
In 1760 Mr. Foote produced a play entitled "The Minor:
A Comedy." It was acted in the New Theater in the Hay-Market.
It is said also to have been acted at Garrick's Theater at Drury
Lane. Of this play Foote was both author and actor of the
leading parts. ^^
This is a shameless production in three acts. There are
frequent lewd and indecent insinuations with reference to the
Methodists. According to the plot, during an illness the fictitious
character Mrs. Cole, or old Moll, as she was familiarly called,
had her doubts and waverings. One summer she went to
Boulogne to repent, but the monks there would not give her
absolution unless she quit her business. She then met Mr,
Squintum (Whitefield), who, she says, "stepped in with his
saving grace and got me with the new birth, and I became, as
you see, regenerate and another creature." ^^
Mrs. Cole appears as the mistress of a house of shame. She
told a young man. Sir George by name, that she had advertised
in "the register office for servants under seventeen" ; and, she
says, "ten to one I will light on something that will do." ^^
A titled father, because his daughter refused to marry
according to his will, drove her from his home. The girl found
a new home, adopted the tenets of her benefactress, and attended
the Methodist meetings with her. Here she observed Mrs. Cole
and admired her because of her seeming religious devotion. Mrs.
Cole took the young girl to her home, and when fully under her
power, the girl discovers the awful truth. One morning she was
told that either she must go with her mistress or go to gaol.
She decides to trust herself to the tender mercies of a gentleman
libertine rather than to the gaols.^^ Mrs. Cole then took her to
Sir George with these words : "Come along, Lucy. ... I thought
I had silenced your scruples. Don't you remember what Mr.
"Tyerman, Life of George Whitefield, vol. ii, p. 430.
^^Samuel Foote, The Minor, pp. 45ff.
"Ibid., p. 44.
"Ibid., pp. 78ff.
Note — The English prisons at this time were hopeless dens of vice.
THE METHODISTS VILIFIED 207
Squintum said? A woman's not worth saving that won't be
guilty of a swinging sin; for then they have matter to repent
upon." ^^ The girl went and begged for mercy from the young
man, who, ''touched with her story, truth, and tears, was con-
verted from her spoiler to the protector of her innocence." ^^
The Methodist was relentless. The libertine had pity.
It is surprising that this disgraceful play could have been
acted on the stage in England for ten years. For it is a well-
known fact that the Methodists promptly excluded from their
societies all unworthy members. It is to the credit of Edinburgh
that the piece so shocked the people that, after the first night,
only ten women had the boldness to witness such impurity, and
that, after the death of Whitefield was announced, public senti-
ment exerted itself sufficiently to drive the piece from the play-
In the meantime Israel Pottinger had produced another
play entitled "The Methodist : A Comedy ; Being a Continuation
and Completion of The Minor." ^^ This "was intended to have
been acted at the Theater Royal at Covent-Garden, but for
obvious reasons was suppressed." ^^ Tyerman says that not-
withstanding it was not allowed on the stage, it soon passed
through three editions as a publication.^^
In this play Mrs. Cole laments it as an unhappy providence
that her victim had escaped her. Lucy is about to be married.
In order to prevent this and to get her again in their power,
^Samuel Foote, The Minor, p. 74.
^Tbid., p. 87.
^^Gillies, Alemoirs of George Whitefield, p. 233, note.
^NoTE — The title page of this play is ambiguous (see note below), and
at first glance seems to credit Foote with the authorship, but the play was
printed for Pottinger, and the burden of proof indicates that he was the
^'NoTE — The complete title is as follows :
"The METHODIST: A COMEDY; Being a Continuation and Com-
pletion of the Plan of The MINOR, Written by Mr. Foote, As it was
intended to have been Acted at the Theatre Royal in Covent-Garden, but for
obvious reasons suppressed. With the original Prologue and Epilogue."
^Tyerman, Life of George Whitefield, vol. ii, p. 438.
2o8 EARLY METHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
and perhaps back to their reHgion, Mrs. Cole and Mr. Squintum
plot to circulate the report that while at Mrs. Cole's house she
had sinned, and that her plea of innocence was false. They all
but succeed, but through an inmate their wicked scheme is
Enough of these unsavory plays. It is refreshing to know
that some of the periodicals of the day sternly rebuked these
authors and vigorously denounced their productions.^^
Together with their leaders the Methodists as a body were
the objects of ridicule, invectives, buffoonery, slander, and
calumny. False rumors were reported, cartoons and hideous
portraits were published; and pamphlets, plays, and dialogues
were written against them.*^ Some were moderate, while others
were vicious and slanderous. Some writers seemed to think
that their case was strengthened by the use of abusive and vulgar
epithets. Charles Wesley says, "Innumerable stories are in-
vented to stop the work, or, rather, repeated, for they are the
same we have heard a thousand times, as well as the primitive
Christians — all manner of wickedness is acted in our societies,
except the eating of little children." ^^ So common was the
report that vice was practiced at their society meetings that at
times unmarried women scarcely dared to be accompanied home
at night by male friends, and widowers sometimes refused to
employ housekeepers to care for their motherless children. ^^
This pamphlet opposition, these rumors, and this scurrility
continued during the entire life of Wesley. Sometimes one story
was most prominent; sometimes another, but always bitter in-
vective. It also was general. Mr. Shadford says, "Wherever I
traveled I found the Methodists everywhere spoken against by
^'Tyerman, Life of George Whitefield, vol. ii, pp. 430ff.
*"Ibid., vol. ii, p. 435, note.
"Charles Wesley, Journal, September 5, 1748.
*'NoTK — After the death of his wife in order "to avoid all occasion of
slander with which the Methodists were plentifully bespattered," Mr. Greene,
of Rotherham, sent his children to be cared for in other homes, thus intensify-
ing his loneliness, that he might keep no woman in his house, (James Everett,
Weslcyan Methodism in Sheffield, p. 82.)
THE METHODISTS VILIFIED 209
wicked and ungodly persons of every denomination";^^ and
Wesley says the same.^* Moreover, there were great numbers
of these publications. The Rev. Richard Green prepared a book
which was published in 1902, entitled Anti-Methodist Publica-
tions, Issued During the Eighteenth Century. This is a "bibliog-
raphy of all known books and pamphlets written in opposition to
the Methodist revival during the life of Wesley; together with
an account of replies to them, and of some other publications."
The book contains one hundred and fifty-seven pages, and men-
tions no less than six hundred and six different headings many of
which mention both the publication and its answer or answers. ^^
This press opposition began by an anonymous letter in
Fogg's Weekly Journal in 1732, which is believed to be the first
mention of the Methodists in the public periodicals. The letter
was occasioned by the death of Mr. Morgan, one of the Oxford
group. Like so many later writings, it grossly misrepresented the
Methodists. "All Wednesdays and Fridays are strictly to be
kept as fasts, and blood let once a fortnight to keep down the
carnal man. ... In short, they practice everything contrary to
the judgment of other persons." Tyerman says, "The entire
letter is before us ; but only a part of it is quoted, first, because
there is a great amount of empty and ungrammatical verbiage
unworthy of being admitted into what was, at that period, per-
haps the most literary and respectable paper published — Fogg's
Weekly Journal ; and, secondly, because there is one paragraph,
which, despite its verbosity, is so loathsomely impure, that it
would be a sin against both God and man to reproduce it." ^^
Within two months this pamphlet was answered, then there fol-
lowed a lull till 1738, when it began again, and soon became
more violent and scurrilous. From this date every year, except
1783, till Wesley's death, brought forth one or more, sometimes
*^Jackson's Lives, vol. vi, p. 151.
**John Wesley, Journal, October 15, 1739.
*^NoTE — The book gives only the titles of the publications, and occa-
sionally a very brief comment.
*®Tyerman, Life of John Wesley, vol. i, pp. Ssfif.
2IO EARLY METHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
many, publications, either in behalf of the Methodists or against
them.^^ Because of the number of these productions the im-
possibility of doing justice to the subject in this chapter is
readily seen. It will be necessary, therefore, to limit the notice
to only a very few of them.
In 1739 t^^ following harsh words were printed in The
Scots Magazine : "Let not such bold movers of sedition, and
ringleaders of the rabble, to the disgrace of their order, be
regularly admitted into those pulpits which they have taken with
multitude and with tumult, or as ignominiously by stealth."
The same year the clergy began to write. Several sermons
were published by them, in one of which the Methodists were
spoken of as "restless deceivers of the people, who make it their
daily business to fill the heads of the ignorant and unwary with
wild, perplexive notions." Another "brands the Methodists as
'deceivers,* 'babblers,' 'insolent pretenders,' 'men of capricious
humors, spiritual sleights, and canting craftiness,' 'novices in
divinity,' casting 'indecent, false and unchristian reflections on the
clergy,' 'newfangled teachers, setting up their own fantastic con-
ceits in opposition to the authority of God, and so bigoted to
their wild opinions, and so puffed up with pride and vanity at the
success of their enthusiastic labors, that they all appear fully
disposed to maintain and defend their cause by more than
spiritual weapons, or to die martyrs for it.' " *^
This year witnessed what is perhaps the beginning of poet-
ical opposition. There is mention of a publication which ap-
peared at this time entitled "The Methodist: A Burlesque
Poem." *^ Some of these so-called poetical works were vulgar
in the extreme, as we shall see later.
The next year a new and, for men so deeply religious, a
rather curious accusation was brought against them. Wesley, as
was his custom, had been visiting a condemned soldier in his
cell. But, he says, "the next day I was informed that the com-
*^R. Green, Anti-Methodist Publications.
^"Tyerman, Life of John Wesley, vol. i, p. 239.
"Gentleman's Magazine, 1739, p. 276.
THE METHODISTS VILIFIED 211
manding officer had given strict orders, 'Neither Mr. Wesley
nor any of his people should be admitted. For they were all
atheists.' " ^^
The Rev. William Bowman, M.A., gave to the public this
year a pamphlet entitled The Imposture of Methodism Displayed,
the aim of which, he says, ''has been truth, and the real interest
of undefiled Religion, the Honor of God, and service of Man-
kind." ^^ He describes Methodism as "An enthusiasm, patched
and made up of a thousand incoherencies and absurdities, picked
and collected together from the vilest heresy upon earth; an
enthusiasm as whimsical as irrational, rashly taken up, supported
by faction, and propagated by the most horrid arts of lying and
hypocrisy." ^^ Speaking of their being denied the use of the
churches, he says : "This was not done, till by their extravagant
flights and buffooneries they had made the church more like a
bear-garden than the house of God, and the rostrum nothing
else but the trumpet of sedition, heresy, blasphemy, and every
thing destructive to religion and good manners." ^^ "If haughti-
ness and pride be contrary to the genius of Christianity, and a
turbulent, untractable spirit inconsistent with the Spirit of God,
we have a fresh mark of imposture before us, and a proper caveat
against those ravening wolves that come to us in sheep's cloth-
ing." ^* Relative to their class meetings, he says : "What can
we think of their nocturnal assemblies? ... I pretend not to
know what is transacted in these meetings, but I cannot help
suspecting that associations of this sort are seldom entered into
merely upon a religious account, but generally for contrary ends
and purposes. When I reflect upon the monstrous society of
Bacchanals in the grove of Stimula, which in the 567th year of
Rome was suppressed by Postumius Albinus, I am apt to make
tmgrateful comparisons." ^^ Herein is that base insinuation of
^'^John Wesley, Journal, March 29, 1740.
'^Wm. Bowman, Imposture of Methodism Displayed, p. 83.
^^Ibid., p. 4.
^■^Ibid., p. 26.
^*Ibid., p. 65.
"Ibid., p. 79.
212 EARLY METHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
immorality, which followed the Methodists so long, and made
their lot so exceedingly hard.
Another pamphlet appeared at this time which, speaking
of Methodism, says : "The most unchristian malice, lying, slander,
railing, and cursing, are, it seems, the criterions of modern
saintship. Let my soul be among the heathen philosophers rather
than among these saints. . . . But these Methodists, those espe-
cially who are clergymen themselves, accuse falsely; accuse
falsely their brethren of the clergy, whom 'tis plain they mortally
hate, and would, if it were in their power, exterminate from the
earth. Let any one of the least discernment judge whether the
papists and infidels be not firm and faithful allies of these enthusi-
asts." ^^ This whole pamphlet is the work of an excited and
angry man. It abounds with such expressions as "rudeness and
ill manners," "pride and insolence," "spite and malice," "mis-
representations, misquotations," "lying and slander," etc.
In 1 74 1 Charles Wesley was told that "you occasion the
increase of our poor." ^^ Indeed, this was another rather com-
mon report. It is frequently met. The argument was something
to the effect that the Methodists did little but go to meeting,
pray, etc., to the neglect of their families. Hence the preachers
were malicious teachers. To this accusation Wesley replied:
"Sir, you are misinformed; the reverse of that is true. None of
our society is chargeable to you. Even those who were so before
they heard us, or who spent all their wages at the alehouse, now
never go there at all, but keep their money to maintain their
families, and have to give to those that want." ^^ In 1744 a Mr.
H vehemently declaimed to John Wesley "against the new
sect as enemies of the church, Jacobites, papists, and what not." ^^
In 1745 Lady Huntingdon was attacked and accused of
favoring the Pretender. These aspersions tended to aggravate
"'Anon, The True Spirit of the Methodists, p. 33, Tyerman Collection
of Pamphlets, vol. cxcix.
"Charles Wesley, Journal, September 22, 1741.
"^"John Wesley, Journal, April 11, 1744.
THE METHODISTS VILIFIED 213
the increasing obloquy under which her Ladyship and those
whom she patronized were now laboring. But she paid little
attention to these malicious reports until several of the itinerants
under her auspices were beaten and illtreated. Some of the
neighboring magistrates refused to act in behalf of the Meth-
odists, when their persons and property were attacked, and her
Ladyship was forced to apply to higher authority. She ad-
dressed a remonstrance to Lord Carteret, one of his Majesty's
principal secretaries of state." Lord Carteret's reply to Lady
Huntingdon's communication was dated November 19, 1745,
only a few days before his going out of office. It was as follows :
"Madam : I laid your remonstrance before his Majesty, the King.
My Royal Master commands me to assure your Ladyship that, as
the father and protector of his people, he will suffer no persecution
on account of religion; and I am desired to inform all magistrates
to afford protection and countenance to such persons as may require
to be protected in the conscientious discharge of their religious
"His Majesty is fully sensible of your Ladyship's attachment to
the House of Hanover; and has directed me to assure your Lady-
ship of his most gracious favor and kindest wishes. I have the
honor to be, Madam, your Ladyship's most obedient humble servant,
In the Gentleman's Magazine for 1747 there was printed
an article under the heading, "Hypocrisy of a Methodist De-
tected." It says, "There has been for some years past a con-
siderable number of Methodists in this city, who were at first
collected and since have continued under the guidance of Mr.
as their minister." It further relates the wretched conduct of
this minister, his criminal relation with some of the women among
his followers, his defense of polygamy, when his wickedness was
discovered, and the final abandonment of his flock, and of his
devoted and virtuous wife.^^ The city mentioned was Salisbury,
and the minister was Mr. Westley Hall, who had married Martha,
the sister of John and Charles Wesley.^ ^ The account of this
^"Life of Countess of Huntingdon, vol. i, pp. 67S.
^^Gentleman's Magazine, 1747, p. 531.
®^Ibid. ; John Wesley, Journal, July 20, 1746.
214 EARLY METHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
wretched man is doubtless all too true. The injury lay in loading
the infam}^ upon the Methodists, for at this time Mr. Hall had
no connection with them.^'^
Mr. Hall had been one of the Oxford Methodists, and had
been associated with the Wesleys at the beginning of their
work.^^ However, he had never been a preacher under the
Wesleys. On the other hand, he had been a minister in the
Established Church with Methodistical principles.^^ But six
years previous to the discovery of his moral bankruptcy he had
broken with the Establishment, and for four years he had had
nothing whatever to do with the Wesleys.^^ He had become an
independent, dissenting minister. His tenets had become such
that even his wife, who was a very brilliant woman as well as a
beautiful character, endowed mentally somewhat like her brother
John, had refused to join with him in his society.^'^ He had
always been unstable, but had not broken out in open profligacy
so long as he was in any way under the influence of the Meth-
odists. Therefore this article was a great injustice to them, and
helped to intensify the falsehood, which doubtless was believed
by all too many, that lewdness was practiced in the Methodist
meetings. Nearly two years after this deplorable incident there
was printed in the Bath Journal an open letter, probably to John
Wesley, which asks why he does not publicly warn his followers
against these evils, and says, ''Many persons of great eminence
among you have been publicly charged with the commission of
these crimes." ''Has not a preacher of your sect preached and
printed to prove the lawfulness of polygamy?" Wesley, of
course, replied : "I answer. No preacher in connection with me
had ever done any such thing. What Mr. Hall, of Salisbury,
has done is no more to me than it is to you, only that I am a
"^John Wesley, Journal, December i, 1747.
"Ibid., January i, 1739; December 22, 1747, Letter to W. Hall, p. i.
""'Charles Wesley, Journal, December 6, 1736.
""John Wesley, Journal, December 22, 1747, Letter to W. H., p. 8.
"'Charles Wesley, Journal, August 11, 1743.
THE METHODISTS VILIFIED 215
greater sufferer by it. For he renounced all the Methodists
several years since: and, when I was at Salisbury last, turned
both me and my sister out of his house. No man, therefore,
of common, heathen humanity, could ever blame me for the
faults of that unhappy man.'' ®^ It is to the credit of this maga-
zine that in its next issue it printed a full explanation of the fact
that Mr. Hall was at that time in no way connected with the
Methodists.^^ However, because of the prevalence of such
stories, and of public prejudice, it is quite probable that this
denial did not reach nearly so many ears as did the previous
In 1749 there appeared Part I of a book entitled The
Enthusiasm of Methodists and Papists Compared. During the
same year Part II appeared, and in 1751 Part III was published.
These books were published anonymously, but were immediately
supposed to have been written by the Rev. George Lavington,
LL.D., Bishop of Exeter, and this soon became an acknowledged
fact. They are now everywhere mentioned as the Bishop's
It appears that the Bishop had delivered an episcopal charge
to the clergy of his diocese. An unknown wag then published
what was pretended to be a manuscript copy of the Bishop's
Charge, but which contained declarations of doctrine and of
experience worthy of Whitefield or of Wesley. This pretended
Charge was circulated, and meanwhile Bishop Lavington, the
hater of the sect, was dubbed a Methodist. His anger can be
imagined. He accused the Methodist leaders of committing the
forgery. The Countess of Huntingdon compelled him to re-
tract. Shortly after this the first part of the Comparison ap-
peared. "^^ It is a caustic attack upon Methodism in general, and
especially upon Wesley and Whitefield.
The book has little merit. Had it been written with some
respect for the opinions of mankind, and with a little courtesy.
^John Wesley, Works, Answer to Letter in Bath Journal, April 17, 1748.
^Gentleman's Magazine, December, 1747, pp. 6igfi.
Tyerman, Life of George Whitefield, vol. ii, pp. 201 fit.
2i6 EARLY METHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
it might have done some good. But because of its lack of these
qualities, and of the rankling bitterness of its tone, its tendency
would be to intensify hatred and strife.
The author so far lost himself in his antipathy that it ap-
parently became impossible for him to see anything good even
in the virtues of Methodism. The Methodists refused to adorn
themselves with gold and costly apparel that they might have
the more with which "to clothe the naked, to feed the hungry,
to lodge the stranger, to relieve those that are sick and in prison,
and to lessen the numberless afflictions to which we are exposed
in this vale of tears. ""^^ But the papists also wore homely gar-
ments. " 'St. Francis would always wear apparel of the vilest
sort ; never anything that was sumptuous ; that being a distinction
of grace. ... St. Ignatius, by preaching powerfully against fine
clothes made the women weep, tear their hair, and charming
faces, and throw away their vain ointments. "^^ . . . Ignatius
loved to appear abroad with old, dirty shoes, used no comb, let
his hair clot, and would never pare his nails. A certain Jesuit was
so holy that he had above a hundred and fifty patches upon his
breeches, and proportionably on his other garments. Another
had almost three hundred patches !' ""^^
In defense of their doctrines and methods, the Methodists
always pointed to the fact that the wicked and profligate of both
sexes were reformed. "And yet," says this author, "we can
match them among their elder brethren. . . . 'St. Francis used
to call people together with blowing a horn, (as the Methodists
by advertisements) when he was to preach ; and his preaching was
so wonderfully moving, that prodigious multitudes of men and
women, above all number and computation, and the very harlots
were converted. ... A certain Jesuit went to the Stews, and
made a surprising conversion of a multitude of prostitutes.' " ^"^
The entire work abounds with such expressions as "that
■'John Wesley, Works, Sermon on Dress, par. 14,
^'Enthusiasm of Methodists and Papists Compared, part i, p. 21.
"Ibid., p. 22.
^*Ibid., part ii, p. 4.
THE METHODISTS VILIFIED 217
collection of their own fooleries, and faults, extravagant whims,
and presumptions, pretensions," ^^ etc. Wesley bursts out into
an "enthusiastic rant, 'I look upon all the world as my parish.' " ^^
Whitefield is quoted as saying, ''If a bishop commit a fault, I
will tell him of it." This the author asserts is to ''assume the
dignity of a primate." "^^ The Methodists rebuked the clergy.
This was "gall of bitterness," and "black art of calumny." "^^
And the following is addressed to the Rev. Mr. Wesley : "Wild-
fire, dangerously tossed about, instead of that light which came
down from heaven; — puffy pretensions to extraordinary revela-
tions, impressions, usurping the name of the Holy One; with
personal conferences with God, face to face ; enthusiastic ranters,
comparing themselves with prophets and apostles, if not with
Christ himself ; ^^ the most wild and extravagant behaviour, the
phrensies of a disturbed brain and deluded imagination, the
effects of fits, of a weak head or diseased body, all turned into
so many tests and marks of saintship; the spirit of pride and
vanity, possessing the leaders ; a spirit of envy, rancor, broils, and
implacable animosities, dashing each other to pieces; a spirit of
bitterness and uncharitableness toward the rest of mankind;
progress through immorality; skepticism, infidelity, atheism,
through spiritual desertions; despair and madness, made the
gate of perfection. . . . hair-brained enthusiasts, and crafty im-
postures . . . tokens of liars." ^^ And thus he runs on for
nearly three pages.
A very bitter attack was made in 1750 by the Rev. John
'^Enthusiasm of Methodists and Papists Compared, part i, p. 28.
^^Ibid., part ii, p. 126.
^^Ibid., part i, p. 17.
'^NoTE — In defense of field preaching Whitefield asks, Can you recollect
no earlier, or more unexceptionable field preachers than the papists? What
think you of Jesus Christ, and his apostles? W^ere they not field preachers?"
To this the author replies : "And will you never leave off your inexcusable
pride in comparing yourself to Christ and his apostles? Will you still
persist in this presumptuous sin?" (Enthusiasm, part II, Preface, pp. loff.)
^''Ibid., part iii, Preface, p. 25.
2i8 EARLY METHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
Kirkby in a pamphlet entitled "The Imposter Detected; or the
Counterfeit Saint Turned Inside Out. Containing a full dis-
covery of the horrid blasphemies and impieties taught by those
diabolical seducers called Methodists, under colour of the only
real Christianity. Particularly intended for the use of the city
of Canterbury, where that Mystery of iniquity has lately begun
to work." ^^
This is another virulent attack, largely void of argument or
reason. The author seemingly ransacked the vocabulary of the
language for epithets. While he mentions no name, yet he
evidently is speaking chiefly of John Wesley, for he mentions
the author of the Methodists, and also speaks of a publication
which was written by Wesle}^^^ The entire pamphlet of fifty-
five pages abounds with such expressions as the following:
"Here his familiar imp seems to have owned this wolf in sheep's
clothing," ^^ . . . "It is no less plain that the love this counterfeit
saint here shows is as opposite to the love of Christ as darkness
is to light." ^* He says the Methodist prays to embrace that
religion which "he spits his venom so much against under the
wickedness of pure superstition, a system of dead, empty forms,
or whatever else the pride and malice of his infernal spirit can
suggest to him." ^^ He refers to a book by this author, which,
he says, "plainly appears to be with no other view than, mounte-
banklike, to use Christianity as his fool [or jest] for no other end
but to gather a crowd about his stage that himself, or some for
him, may have a fairer opportunity to pick people's pockets, or at
least to vend his trash." ^^ Other expressions are, "vipers,"
"the religion of these seducers," "pharisaical boasters." ^"^ He
also stoops to the vulgar insinuation of lewdness, which was so
"Tyerman Collection of Pamphlets, vol. xcvii.
''John Kirkby, Imposter Detected, pp. 4 and 17.
''Ibid., p. 6.
'nWid., p. 7.
«nbid., p. 9-
'"Ibid., p. 10.
''Ibid., pp. 23, 47, 50.
THE METHODISTS VILIFIED 219
'Common, and which doubtless was intensified by the above-
mentioned article in the Gentleman's Magazine. He says, "Again,
let this diabolical gratification of their pride remind you of
their secret cabals, which they are known so frequently to hold
together." ^^ This, of course, referred to their class meetings.
On the closing page he says, "In fine, scarce any consideration
can be more melancholy than the ravages we see made by these
emissaries of Satan among us at present." ^^
Enough for poor Kirkby. Such an unhapppy spirit richly
deserved all the torture that the presence of the Methodists
seemed to have given him. The pity is that in his day there
appeared to be so many of his type.
In 1757 the London Magazine printed an article entitled,
^'A Dozen Reasons Why the Sect of Conjurers, Called Fortune-
Tellers, Should Have at Least as Much Liberty to Exercise their
Admirable Arts, as Is Now Granted to Methodists, Moravians,
and Various Other Sorts of Conjurers." After enumerating the
benefits derived from the fortune teller, it says: "Whereas, if
these pretenders to conjuration ever do such a good-natured
action, it is with great difficulty that the husband can prevent
his wife giving the whole, or the greater share of her fortune to
them. . . . Whereas, our antagonists have often made poor
women lay violent hands on themselves, and but very lately they
made a poor woman literally fulfil the Scripture by pulling out
one of her eyes, because, we suppose, they told her that she had
looked upon a handsome young fellow of her acquaintance with
a longing eye." ^^
In December there was a reply to this article by a Methodist,
which shows that the article was aimed chiefly at them. It calls
upon the writer to point out the woman, who had pulled out an
eye, and her advisers.^ ^ There is no record that this was done.
In 1760 another article appeared in this magazine in which
^^John Kirkby, The Imposter Detected, p. 52.
««Ibid., p. 55.
^"London Magazine, 1757, p. 483.
"'Ibid, p. 589.
220 EARLY METHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
were more insinuations of lewdness. The writer says, "I cannot
personally and positively assert the reality of dark rooms, naked
figures, rattling chains, and typical fires with the mystical pangs
of the new birth, though my intelligence came from a right
trusty sentinel, a watchman of the night.'' ^^ Though he con-
fesses his uncertainty, yet it is observed that he rushes into print.
The next February another article was printed in this maga-
zine, the indecencies of which cannot be reproduced here.^^
For several years, as noted above, the Methodists had been
slandered on the public stage.^^ In 1768 Mr. Isaac Blickerstaff
brought out a play entitled The Hypocrite, A Comedy in Five
Acts.^^ This was acted in the Theater Royal in Drury Lane,
London. It is indeed surprising that respectable people would
patronize a public place where such a play was acted. It appears
also to have been acted in America, and as late as 1826. The
leading character is Dr. Cantwell, meaning one who is good at
cant. Those base insinuations of lewdness are herein reproduced.
Also the Doctor is trying to rob his friend and patron of his
property, and all but succeeds.^^ This is another of those in-
sinuations which were so widely circulated concerning the
The year 1778 brought forth a publication entitled The
Lovefeast, A Poem. It was dedicated to ''The whole com-
munion of fanatics that infest Great Britain and artfully en-
deavor to shelter themselves under the wing of rational dissen-
tion." This is a forty-seven-page production and perhaps is
the bitterest of them all. References in footnotes would indicate
that the author was a man of considerable scholarship. But
certainly he was a man with an uncharitable spirit. His insinua-
tions go farther than merely to lewdness. In it are such state-
ments as follow :
"^London Magazine, October, 1760, p. 516.
"'Ibid., February, 1761, Letter to Hermas.
"*Above, pp. 205fif.
"''Decanver Collection, General Theological Seminary Library.
"*The Hypocrite, pp. 31 and 63.
THE METHODISTS VILIFIED 221
There brothers, sisters, and lewd pastors meet
To truck reHgion for a jovial treat;
To drown a year's hypocrisy in wine,
And carry on imposture's chaste design;
In solemn farce a jubilee to hold,
And cast new saints in Reynard's perfect mold.^'''
Moreover, the author makes the following insinuations, and
so strongly as almost to make them a declaration of fact. He
There the New Adam tries the old one's Fort,
And Children of the Light in Darkness sport :^^
But chiefly when their Midnight-Feasts displays,
Like Aretino,^^ Vice a thousand Ways ;
When hymning Saints, like Bacchanalians, join
To praise the Lord with Zeal inflamed by Wine;
When preaching Lubbers, tempt the Virgin's lip
From medicated Chalices to sip.^^^
Hot with drugged Philters mixed by holy Hands,
Dissention then unites in closest Bands.
Together wanton Pairs promiscuous run,
Brother with Sister, Mother with a son ;
Fathers, perhaps, with yielding Daughters meet,
And converts find their Pastor's Doctrine sweet;
Pure Souls are fired by Love's divinest spark.
And Paradise is opened in the dark.^^^
Almost every page of this *'poem" contains some epithet,
and breathes out the spirit of hate. Wisely the author conceals
It has been said that toward the close of Wesley's life there
was a change in the attitude toward him. That is true; still,
he with the other Methodists had plenty to try the mettle of
®The Lovefeast, p. 13.
Note — The following are footnotes to the above "poem," as arranged
by its author :
®^ "Candles are blown out, or, perhaps, burn out, at these long nightly
solemnities. — Tut out the light — and then';" (The Lovefeast, p. 27.)
^'^A painter of indecent attitudes;" (The Lovefeast, p. 28.)
100 " jjjjg insinuation may seem hardly credible, but the author can prove
the truth of it from a former member of this distractedly fanatic body. He
does not say that this practice is general, but that he knows it has been
practiced." (The Lovefeast, p. 28.)
'°'The Lovefeast, pp. 27ff.
222 EARLY METHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
which they were made. When the above "poem" was pub-
hshed he was an old man seventy-five years of age. But age did
not save him, nor his followers. In 1789, two years before his
death, a pamphlet was published entitled "Methodists Unmasked ;
or a Letter to an Old Gentleman, who Had Amply Imbibed the
Very Essence of Hypocrisy, BEING A REPLY TO Letters
Addressed to a Young Gentleman, Who Had Early Imbibed the
Principles of Infidelity." ^^^ The bulk of the pamphlet is of little
importance. The following, however, is a postscript which is of
some interest :
A Recipe to Make a Methodist
Take of the herbs of hypocrisy and the radix of spiritual pride
each two handfuls ; two ounces of ambition, vainglory, and impu-
dence ; boil them over the fire of sedition till the ingredients swim
on the top ; then add six ounces of sugar of deceit, one quart of
dissembling tears, and put the whole into the bottle of envy, stopping
it fast with the cork of malice. When these ingredients are settled
make them into pills. Take one night and morning with the tongue
of slander : then go into society house to hear nonsense and stupidity
by way of gentle exercise ; fall into pretended fits ; go home ; cant ;
sing hymns, and pray till you are heard all round the neighborhood ;
backbite your best friends ; cheat all you are acquainted with ; and, in
short, under the mask of holiness commit every other act that an
honest man would be ashamed of.
Thus for half a century and more this controversy dragged
on. Doubtless these attacks hindered progress, and contributed
largely toward stirring up the masses to the violence, which so
often endangered the property and the lives of the Methodists,
and which sometimes seemed to threaten the very existence of
the movement. But undismayed even by such opposition, the
Methodist leaders pressed on, facing boldly their accusers, deny-
ing the false reports, endeavoring so far as possible to explain
their doctrines and motives, and patiently striving to wear out
prejudice and to overcome evil reports l)y good works and by
^Tyerman Collection of Pamphlets, vol. Ixviii.
While there was much persecution during the entire life
of Wesley, as has been said, yet in his later years it greatly
declined. A number of circumstances contributed to this result,
each doubtless having had an important influence in checking the
outrages. It is not fair to say that any one cause alone produced
these changes. However, the direct outcome of legal prosecutions
is always apparent. But while this influence was more per-
ceptible, yet other influences were working toward the same end,
and certainly contributed no small weight toward producing
Fortunately for the Methodists, the reigning monarchs
afforded them protection. Had it been otherwise, bitter as was
the feeling against them, and violent as was the persecution, it
seems not improbable that the movement would have been
crushed completely, or at any rate greatly restricted. There
were those who attempted to kill the leaders, and there were
others who wished to send them for soldiers. Either means
certainly would have crushed the movement in England, at least
for the time. But the sovereigns George II and George III
were opposed to persecution for conscience' sake. All accounts
agree with Messrs. Coke and Moore, who say: "We are happy
that from authentic information we can inform the public that
his late Majesty on a representation made to him of the perse-
cutions suffered by the societies at this time, declared that 'No
man in his dominions should be persecuted on the account of
religion while he sat on the throne.' " ^ Moreover, George III
acted upon the same principle.^
^Coke and Moore, Life of John Wesley, p. 197; see also John Hampson,
Memoirs of John Wesley, pp. 3off; Life of Countess of Huntingdon, vol. i,
p. 67; George Whitefield, Works, vol. i, pp. 266f¥., Letter No. 286.
^Henry Moore, Life of John Wesley, vol. ii, p. 2.
224 EARLY ^lETHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
During his entire life Wesley found this policy of the rulers
a strong support. Often the magistrates and the inferior courts
would refuse warrants; or, if action were brought, would clear
the rioters. At Cork, these courts not only cleared the perse-
cutors, but brought recommendations against the Methodist min-
isters, Charles Wesley included.^ Also, Methodists were pressed,
and sometimes condemned for soldiers by these courts. But it
was not so in the superior tribunals. The author of the Life
of the Countess of Huntingdon says, "The superior courts were
a sure refuge where no scanty justice, but liberal countenance
was afforded to the new species of dissenters." * Moreover, the
matter of quelling "riotous mobs, even when the magistrates will
not do their duty," was discussed at the Conference in 1749,
and it was answered : "There is one, and only one way — move
the King's Bench for information against them. This is a way
which has never failed us yet." ^ However, as Mr. Southey
observes, "The offenders were not rigorously pursued; they
Note — Mr. Moore repeats the following, which was related to him by
John Wesley. "One of the original society of Methodists at Oxford, on the
departure of its founders from the university, after seeking for others like-
minded, at length joined the Society of Quakers and settled at Kew. Being
a man of considerable property, and of exemplary behavior, he was much
respected, and favored with free permission to walk in the royal gardens.
Here he frequently met the King, who conversed freely with him, and with
much apparent satisfaction. Upon one of those occasions, his Majesty,
knowing that he had been at Oxford, inquired if he knew the Messrs.
Wesley, adding, 'They make a great noise in the nation.' The gentleman
replied, T know them well, King George ; and thou mayest be assured, that
thou hast not two better men in thy dominions, nor men that love thee
better, than John and Charles Wesley.' He then proceeded to give some
account of their principles and conduct, with which the King seemed much
pleased." (Moore, Life of John Wesley, vol. ii, pp. 2ff.)
It is also worthy of note that the Countess of Huntingdon had an
interview of upward of an hour with George HI and the Queen, when they
talked of a great variety of subjects. At this time the King expressed his
high appreciation of her Ladyship, and of her work. (Life of Countess of
Huntingdon, vol. ii, pp. 28iff.)
'Above, p. 126.
'Life of Countess of Huntingdon, vol. i, p. 70.
"Minutes of the Conference, 1749. printed in 1812.
PERSECUTION CHECKED 225
generally submitted before the trial, and it sufficed to make them
understand that the peace might not be broken with impunity." ^
As has been observed, in 1740 there were disturbances at
Bristol. This occurred at the time of the Quarter-sessions. It
was quickly and permanently checked by the ring leaders having
been taken into court and severely reprimanded.'^ At London
"Sir John Ganson, the chairman of the Middlesex justices, called
upon Wesley and informed him 'that he had no need to suffer
these riotous mobs to molest him,' adding, 'Sir, I and the other
Middlesex magistrates have orders from above to do you justice
whenever you apply to us.' A short time after he did apply.
Justice was done, though not with rigor, and from that period
the society had peace in London." ^
In the vicinity of Wednesbury, Staffordshire, even the
enemies of the Methodists came to see the necessity of quelling
the increasing tumults. "The mob turned upon their employers,
and threatened, unless they gave them money, to serve them as
they had done the Methodists. And, if they saw a stranger,
whose appearance did not please them, they immediately attacked
him." ^ Shortly after this a grave man was riding through
Wednesbury w^hen "the mob swore he was a preacher, pulled him
off his horse, dragged him to a coal pit and were hardly re-
strained from throwing him in." But the Quaker, for such he
proved to be, indicted the leader at the Assizes, where the verdict
was given against them. From that time the tumults ceased. ^*^
During the rioting at Hampton, Whitefield wrote a letter
to one whom the mob called captain, "desiring him to inform
his associates 'that if they w^ould acknowledge their fault, pay
for curing a boy's arm, which was broken the night I was there,
and mend the windows of Mr. Adams' house, we would readily
^Southey, Life of John Wesley, vol. ii, p. 50.
'Henry Moore, Life of John Wesley, vol. ii, p. 2.
*Ibid., vol. ii, p. 2; J. Crowther, Methodist Manual, p. 11.
^J. Crowther, Methodist Manual, p. 11; John Wesley, Works, History
of Methodist People, sec. 25.
^°John Wesley, Works, History of Methodist People, sec. 25.
226 EARLY METHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
pass all by; but if they persisted in their resolutions to riot we
thought it our duty to prevent their doing, and others receiving
further damage, by moving for an information against them
in the King's Bench/ I also sent a copy of this letter to a
minister of the town, and to a justice of the peace, with a letter
to each from myself; but all in vain. The rioters sent me a
most insolent answer, wrote me word, 'They were in high spirits,
and were resolved there should be no more preaching in Hamp-
ton.' " The Methodists then moved the King's Bench for the
arrest of five of the leaders. The case was postponed at the
first term of court, and it was reported that it was to be decided
against the Methodists, right or wrong.^^ However, at the next
term of court it was tried, and decided against the rioters, finding
them all guilty. Whitefield wrote, "I hear they are hugely
alarmed, but they do not know that we intend to let them see
what we can do, and then to forgive them." ^^ He does not
state the final penalty. Relative to another incident, he assures
Lady Huntingdon "that the Welsh justices have ordered the
twenty pounds, exacted of the Methodists by Sir W , to be
The Gentleman's Magazine related that "Edward Frost was
this day committed to Newgate prison by a justice for being con-
cerned with many others in a riot, and threatening to burn down
the house of Samuel Cole at Norwood, near London." ^^ There
was a meeting of Methodists at the house. And Wesley says :
"I preached at Clayworth, where a year ago the mob carried all
before them. But an honest justice quelled them at once, so that
they are now glad to be quiet, and mind their own business." ^'^
And again at Rangdale he preached, he says, "where I expected
a disturbance, but found none. The light punishment inflicted
on the late rioters, though their expense was not great, as they
"George Whitefield, Account of Gloucester Trial, Works, vol. iv, p. 104.
"George Whitefield, Works, vol. ii, p. 58, Letter No. 550.
"Ibid., vol. ii, p. 225, Letter No. 728.
"Gentleman's Magazine, 1757, p. 382.
"*John Wesley, Journal, April 19, 1752.
PERSECUTION CHECKED 227
submitted before the trial, has secured peace ever since. Such
a mercy it is to execute the penalty of the law on those who will
not regard its precepts ! So many inconveniences to the innocent
does it prevent, and so much sin in the guilty." ^^ From this
time it seems that a number of magistrates began to act, follow-
ing the example of the King's Bench. It was thus at Scotter, a
town near Epworth. "An upright magistrate took the cause in
hand, and so managed both the rioters and him, who set them
at work, that they have been quiet as lambs ever since." ^'^
Wesley says : "I rode to Faversham. Here I was quickly
informed that the mob and the magistrates had agreed together
to drive Methodism, so called, out of the town. After preaching
I told them what we had been constrained to do by the magis-
trate at Rolvenden, who, perhaps, would have been richer by
some hundreds of pounds, had he never meddled with the Meth-
odists, concluding, 'Since we have both God and the law on our
side, if we can have peace by fair means, we had much rather,
we would be exceedingly glad ; but, if not, we will have peace.' " ^^
Wesley relates the circumstance at Atallbridge, which, he
says, was "long the seat of war by a senseless, insolent mob,
encouraged by their betters, so called, to outrage their quiet
neighbors. . . . But no magistrate, though they applied to several,
would show them either mercy or justice. At length they wrote
to me. I ordered a lawyer to write to the rioters : he did so,
but they set him at naught. We then moved the Court of King's
Bench. By various artifices they got the trial put off from one
time of the Assizes to another for eighteen months. But it fell
so much heavier on themselves, when they were found guilty.
And from that time, finding there is law for the Methodists, they
have suffered them to be at peace." ^^ Thomas Mitchell voiced
the same sentiment. He says, "As to the lions at Wrangle, an
appeal to the Court of King's Bench made both them and the
^''John Wesley, Journal, April 20, 1752.
"Ibid., April 3, 1764.
^®Ibid., January 5, 1766.
^"Ibid., August 30, 1766.
228 EARLY METHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
minister quiet as lambs." ^^ These are a few of the many
instances in which the courts brought the rioters to punishment
for their crimes, thus exerting a powerful influence toward
checking the lamentable outrages which had so frequently been
We now have to deal with the untimely and unseemly deaths
of persecutors. Wesley relates the case of a minister at Bristol,
who was accustomed to preach against the Methodists in nearly
every sermon, and who "alleged many grievous things against
them, but without all color of truth." ^^ At his last effort of this
kind, this minister had just named his text, when he was seized
with a peculiar illness, was borne unconscious from the pulpit,
and died the next Sunday.
At Inniscorthy, Ireland, a wretched clergyman preached
against the Methodists, and encouraged the mob in their out-
rages. He had preached against them on one occasion, and
"after he had painted them as black as devils, he added, T have
not time to finish now; next Sunday I will give you the rest.'
But the next morning he was struck in a strange manner. . . .
Not long after ... he went to his account." ^^ At Waterford,
a Catholic priest and a wealthy merchant had stood in the window
of the home of the latter and encouraged the mob to disturb
Wesley. The next Sunday the priest fell dead at the altar.^^
Frequent mention is made of the fearful deaths of perse-
cutors. At North-Moulton the captain of the mob cut his throat.
He lived long enough to ask pardon of the people whom he had
injured. ^^ At Darlaston, where persecution had been so violent,
the fiercest of the persecutors were "called away by a train of
amazing strokes." At Thorpe many of the opponents were
"snatched away in an hour, when they looked not for it." A
^"See above, p. 103; Jackson's Lives, vol. i, p. 250,
*'John Wesley, Journal, August 24, 1743.
^'Jbid., June 15, 1769.
"Crookshank, History of Methodism in Ireland, vol. i, p. 273; Charles
Wesley, Journal, September 24, 1748.
^'Charles Wesley, Journal, vol. ii, p. 221.
PERSECUTION CHECKED 229
woman had often sworn that "she would wash her hands in the
heart's blood of the next preacher that came, but before the next
preacher came she was carried to her long home." ^^
At Devizes very few of the violent lived out half their
days; "many were snatched away in an hour, when they looked
not for it." ^^ At Sidare many bitter persecutors "vanished away
like smoke, several of them, indeed, came to a fearful end, and
their neighbors took warning from them." ^'^
The end of Beau Nash, who confronted Wesley at Bath,
is recorded. "He dreaded the approach of death more than the
generality of mankind, and sought refuge in some fancied devo-
tion while it threatened him. Though a complete libertine in
practice, none trembled more than he did. To embitter his hopes,
he found himself at last abandoned by the great, . . . and was
obliged to fly for protection to those of humbler station. . . .
The corporation of Bath allowed him a scanty pittance, which
saved this miserable trifler from starvation in his last days." ^^
The end of Butler, the leader of the rioters at Cork, should
be noticed. From Cork he went to Waterford "and raised dis-
turbances in that city. But happening to quarrel with some,
who were as ready for blood as himself, he lost his right arm
in the fray." Being thus disabled he "dragged out the remainder
of his life in unpitied misery." ^^ He fled to Dublin where "the
Methodists supported him, or he might have famished." ^^
As mentioned above, the Methodists wore out opposition.
At neither Saint Ives nor Wednesbury were the Methodists
successful in their appeals to the courts. Yet at Wednesbury,
since May, 1745, and at Saint Ives ever after June, 1747, there
was perfect peace. John Wesley makes numerous mention of
visiting both these places, and sometimes preaching to nearly the
"John Wesley, Journal, April 2, 1751.
^^Ibid., September 18, 1772.
^^Ibid., May 30, 1787.
^^Life of Countess of Huntingdon, vol. i, p. 445, note.
^^William Smith, History of Wesleyan Methodism in Ireland, p. 34.
^°Methodist Magazine, 181 2, p. 45.
230 EARLY METHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
whole town, high and low, rich and poor, sometimes to congre-
gations of eight or ten thousand.^^ Especially is this true of
Saint Ives, where during the rest of his life Wesley was always
received by a great multitude, and always with the greatest
In 1744 Wesley writes, ''This day Mr. Williams wrote a
solemn retraction of the gross slanders he had been propagating
for several months concerning my brother and me." ^^ At
Wakefield Wesley was surprised to find himself preaching in the
church, while a few years ago an honest man did not dare to let
him preach in his yard, lest the mob should pull down his house. ^^
At Dudley, in 1761, he found all as quiet as at London. He
says, "The scene is changed since the dirt and stones of this town
were flying about me on every side." ^* And at Walsal, that place
of bitterest opposition, he preached in 1764, *'and there was no
opposer, not a trifier to be seen." ^^ At another place a drunkard
attempted to lay hold upon the preacher, but the hearers took
him in charge so roughly that Wesley entreated for the dis-
turber in order to save him from injury. ^^ At Barnard Castle
Wesley questions : "Are these the people that, a few years ago,
were like roaring lions? They were now quiet as lambs; nor
could several showers drive them away till I concluded." ^"^ He
was at Congleton, and remarks : "What a change in this tow^n !
The bitter enmity of the townsfolks to the Methodists is clean
forgotten; so has the steady behavior of the little flock turned
the hearts of the opposers." ^^ Of Colne, he says, "I scarcely
ever saw a congregation wherein men, women, and children
stood in such a posture; and this in the town wherein thirty
"John Wesley, Journal, March 31, 1751; August 25, 1780.
^^Ibid., December 2, 1744.
^Ibid., April 12, 1752.
"^Ibid., March 17, 1761.
"Ibid., March 26, 1864.
""Ibid., July 19, 1743.
"Ibid., June 10, 1761.
"^Ibid., April 30, 1774.
PERSECUTION CHECKED 231
years ago no Methodist could show his head." ^^ At Bath "the
scene is changed again; here we have the rich and honorable in
abundance; and yet abundance of them came even in a stormy
night, and seemed as attentive as colliers." ^^
In 1765 Wesley repeated his visit to Ireland. Concerning
his visit to Dublin he says he preached "to such a congregation
as I never saw in Dublin before, and everyone was as quiet as
if we had been in the new square at Bristol. What a change
since Mr. Whitefield, a few years ago, attempted to preach near
this place !"^^ He also was at Cork. Of this place he says:
"Many of the chief of the city were of the audience, clergy as
well as laity. And all but two or three were not only quiet, but
serious, and deeply attentive. What a change! Formerly we
could not walk through the street but at the peril of our lives." *^
References to this great change are very numerous. Places
where there had never been any court proceedings, and places
where an appeal to the courts had failed, had changed. The
Methodists had been winning their way into the confidence of
the masses. Prejudice was breaking down before them, conse-
quently, to a large degree, the desire to persecute was dying out.
^^John Wesley, Journal, April 30, 1776.
*"Ibid., September 19, 1789.
"Ibid., July 21, 1765.
*^Ibid., June 23, 1765,
SUMMARY— AN ESTIMATE
Of the real extent of the struggle of the early Methodists
against persecution it seems that now we can never fully know.
It is probable that a great deal of the minor disturbances, and
even of violence, was not recorded. Moreover, it is also prob-
able that considerable that was recorded is now lost. This is more
especially true of the abuse and vilification that was heaped upon
them in pamphlets, during the controversy, which lasted till
after Wesley's death. Mr. Decanver accuses the Methodists of
having bought up and suppressed these publications,^ while Mr.
Green believes that "many are now probably destroyed ... or
are hidden away in holes and corners from which it is impossible,
if it were desirable, to dislodge them." ^
As for violence, it is known that John Wesley did not
record some instances where he was treated with shameful
cruelty. Also when he was injured he minimized his own suffer-
ings. Being extremely desirous of subduing or controlling the
rioters, he naturally would exert every mental energy toward that
end. Therefore he would have neither time nor inclination to
think of his own injuries.
The same facts would very likely be true of his lay helpers.
They would be expected to follow his example and to learn of
him. Therefore they too would be mentally preoccupied in an
effort to quell the disturbance or to soften the rioters. In some
cases this is known to be true. They too were inclined to mini-
mize their own sufferings. They tell of being unconscious, of
blood gushing Dut, etc., but they say little of feeling pain. More-
'H. C. Decanver, Catalogue of Works in Refutation of Methodism, p. 5.
^Richard Green, Anti-Methodist Publications, Preface, p. 6.
SUMMARY— AN ESTIMATE 233
over, their biographies were frequently written by themselves,
and often say little, and sometimes nothing at all of persecution.
How much of their sufferings they have omitted to tell can never
At present the chief sources of information on this subject
are the Journals, and works of the three great leaders of the
movement, the biographies and autobiographies of the preachers,
the local histories of Methodism, and, of course, certain minor
sources. Were it not for these works very little would now be
known of what the Methodists endured for conscience' sake.
Just what distinction there was between opposition and
persecution is hard to tell. There are plenty of statements to the
effect that this "new sect was everywhere spoken against." Oppo-
sition was universal. Wherever the Methodists went they were
met with the frowns and scowls of disapproval. Only a very
small minority gave them welcome, and these were chiefly their
own adherents and converts. A very few, who could not be
called followers, welcomed them, but this company was so small
numerically as scarcely to be worthy of consideration. Except
perhaps in the case of Whitefield, whose wonderful oratory, in
spite of opposition, won for him considerable popularity, it is quite
true that the originators of Methodism faced a world of opposers.
The nature of this opposition was severe. As has been
shown, the Methodists were accused of the grossest crimes, some
of which were high treason. All kinds of false reports were cir-
culated. Each locality seemed to add something new to the list
of calumnies. So the Methodists were not only everywhere
spoken against, but they were also everywhere falsely accused.
These reports the preachers were compelled to face, which they
did with an undaunted courage. Sometimes they refuted them ;
sometimes they merely denied them and passed on, and at other
times they entirely ignored them. Time was too precious. Had
they attempted to run down all false reports, it is quite probable
that they would have accomplished little else. For, when one
lost weight, another seemed immediately to spring up to take
234 EARLY METHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
Violence in its open and flagrant form was not everywhere.
In certain places — for example, London and Bristol — this was
quickly checked by the civil authorities. Yet even in these cities
there were some disturbances, but they were rare and compara-
tively mild. They seem to have been just an outburst or over-
flow of the spirit of persecution that prevailed in other neighbor-
hoods. Beyond a doubt, almost everywhere they went, if there
was not open violence, there were both calumnies and plenty of
petty annoyances. They were reviled. While the preachers
were preaching horns were blown, bells were rung, dogs were
brought up to disturb, cocks were set to fighting, cattle were
driven through the audiences, mud and dirt were thrown, and
also other missiles were hurled at the speaker. These not only
annoyed, but often bruised or brought blood. The preachers
often preached with the blood trickling down their faces, caused
by these injuries. This was much more true of the lay preachers
than of Whitefield and the Wesleys.
Mobs were surprisingly common. It is impossible to tell
how often they occurred, but for several years immediately
after lay helpers were introduced it is not improbable that there
were riots of more or less consequence in some part or other of
the three kingdoms every two or three weeks, perhaps oftener.
It is reasonable to suppose that minor disturbances were passed
unnoticed and that only those mobs of larger proportions were
mentioned, especially as there were riots so very destructive in
Some of these riots were easily quelled. It was always the
practice of the preachers, when a mob assembled, to look it
straight in the face. They often addressed the men personally,
perhaps preaching to the rioters, or perhaps using other argu-
ments suitable to the occasion. Frequently these direct addresses
would quiet the disturbers. At other times the preacher would
address the leader, or would go down and take him by the hand
and endeavor to reason with him. John Wesley very frequently
^George Whitefield, Works, vol. iv, p. 102, Brief Account of Trial at
Gloucester, p. 7.
SUMMARY— AN ESTBIATE 235
did this. Often he would go from man to man, talking and rea-
soning with them, and by this means on many occasions he turned
the bitterest enemies into friends. Frequently these were leaders
of the mob. Sometimes these leaders were pugilists, in which
case they rendered him material aid. For they would not hesitate
to knock down any man or woman who might attempt to injure
the man who had won their friendship. From assailants they
would become protectors, and would fight as vigorously for their
charge as they had against him. This, however, seldom was
necessary, for when a pugilist lifted up his arm in defense of the
despised Methodist preacher the others almost invariably seemed
suddenly to lose their antipathy. The vigor and the anger of the
rabble seemed to depend to a remarkable degree upon the likeli-
hood of opposition, and especially whether that opposition was
strong enough to hurt. They were bold as lions when there
was nothing to fear, but when there was a strong arm to face
their courage suddenly subsided.
Then often the rabble would fall out among themselves,
and the opposition would turn into a free-for-all fight. This
happened with surprising frequency, yet not so surprising, after
all, when it is recalled that the masses had nothing especially
against the Methodists. The great majority of men at that time
were too ignorant and too base to know or to care what was
preached. Besides very few of them ever went to church. They
seemed to care very little for it. Ignorant men live largely in
their emotions. So these men wanted excitement, and a fight
was very much to their liking. The Methodist preachers were
everywhere spoken against, thus their unpopularity made it seem
utterly impossible for them to strike back. Besides it was their
practice not to resist violence. In their cases, therefore, it was
very similar to baiting a bull, a popular and cruel sport practiced
at that time. Indeed, several times the mob planned to ''bait the
Though many of the preachers were laymen, yet there
was a dignity connected with their ofiice which in a measure
protected them. Also by their exceptional experience they be-
2z6 EARLY METHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
came more skillful than their hearers in handling the mobs or
in escaping from them. But these mobs were by no means
always or easily quelled. On the contrary, at one time or
another, practically all of the earlier preachers suffered terribly
at the hands of angry rioters. This included Whitefield and
both of the Wesleys. But the lay preachers suffered most
severely, for they were irregular, and less to be tolerated than
the educated and ordained leaders. Frequently one was knocked
down and beaten with sticks, dragged along the street, his clothes
torn off, or covered with filth or with paint. They were thrown
into pools of water; once this was done when the victim was
unconscious from the blows which he had received; once a stick
was thrust into the mouth of an unconscious sufferer. Some
suffered for months or years from their injuries, or never com-
pletely recovered; a few afterwards died from the effect of them;
several were left for dead, and at least one suffered immediate
martyrdom. Whitefield twice narrowly escaped being killed;
Charles Wesley frequently had severe encounters with the mobs,
and John Wesley, on several occasions, considered his life to be
valued by minutes. Yet these were the most successful of all in
subduing, or escaping the fury of the angry rabble.
Wherever they went the preachers were sure to meet an
expectant audience, and very frequently a multitude of hearers.
They were usually denounced in bitter terms, and the people
warned against hearing them, but the masses seemed not to have
had a high regard for their ministers. What bond of union there
was on the part of the people for the clergy seems to have been
chiefly that of respect for a man of higher social standing than
themselves, and of obedience to one who possessed considerable
political authority.^ Moreover, the Methodists were ''every-
where spoken against," which indicates that they were every-
where known. And after hearing the numerous stories of the
utter depravity and inhumanity of these men, when a Methodist
preacher was announced it was only natural that every person
*NoTi-: — Often the minister was also a magistrate or a justice.
SUMMARY— AN ESTIMATE 237
of mature age in the entire community would be curious to get
a look at the man, who they had been told was a monster.
Incited by these stories, it is very probable that individuals went
to the preaching place with strange or mingled feelings. Doubt-
less some were ready to rend the preacher asunder, while others
were awed with expectation. The preachers often spoke of the
strangeness of the crowd. Moreover, this peculiar emotional
sensation on the part of the hearers would be intensified upon
seeing the man. They had come to see some sort of a monster;
they usually saw a well-looking, clean, good and kindly face, and
sometimes a very handsome man, for some of the early preachers
were such. Naturally, under these conditions, the people stood
amazed. In their curiosity some asked, "What kind of a man
is this ?" Then, as the preacher proceeded, if he were not mobbed,
and could proceed, these feelings would begin to take form in
some estimate of the man. Some would conclude that surely
this was the wolf in sheep's clothing, of which they had been
told, while others would be persuaded that these reports were
false, and that, after all, these were good men who spoke the
oracles of God. And from numerous statements of the preachers
this is just what happened many times. Occasionally there was
a stupid, indifferent wonderment, but this was by no means the
rule. Usually the reaction upon the people was vivid, and some-
times it was intensely so. The opposition would be ready to
tear the preachers in pieces, while the convinced would shed
tears of penitence and sympathy. The sympathetic listeners were
very likely to become Methodists. Then the rage of the angered
multitude would be turned against these converted neighbors.
Wherever the preacher suffered, the members of the society
were also objects of attack.^ And the distress at least of some
of the people was usually as great or greater than that of the
°NoTE — There were but few exceptions, as has been said, where the
magistrates interfered. But it was necessary for the Methodists who enjoyed
repose to send relief to their brethren, who had been despoiled. At times
this was quite a drain upon the societies, especially as so many of the
Methodists were poor.
238 EARLY METHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
preacher. If missiles were thrown at the preacher, they were
thrown among the congregation, or into the house where the
preacher was stopping. The people were subject to annoyances
while at the meetings, but it seems that their chief suffering was
when they left the meeting to go to their homes, or to escape the
mob. At these times they were subjected to insults and abuse.
They were sometimes knocked down, or pelted with dirt, stones,
or whatever came to hand, or beaten with sticks. In time of
persecution the mob thought that it mattered little what they did
to them, for it seemed to the rabble that there was no law for the
In the more violent outbreaks the people suffered terribly.
Many had all the windows of their houses broken. So prevalent
was this in certain places that men riding through the town
some time afterward could tell the homes of the Methodists by
the condition of the windows. Some were boarded up; others
were stopped up in one way or another, and all Methodist homes
bore marks of the general destruction. A few had their goods
utterly destroyed or stolen, and were left penniless in the world.
There is record of a number of shopkeepers who had their goods
destroyed so completely as to drive them out of business. Several
had their goods destroyed and their homes partially wrecked,
while one or two had their houses pulled down. Several meeting-
houses were demolished. A great many, perhaps several thou-
sand Methodists, suffered more or less bodily injury. A few
of these were injured for life, some were weeks or months
recovering from their wounds, while several were killed, or died
of their injuries.
It must be added that the women seem to have been the
greatest sufferers. When violence was severe it is frequently
said that the rabble began by beating a woman. Her lot was
especially hard. Her sex did not save her in the general dis-
turbance, but, rather, at times she seems to have been the chief
object of attack. Even if a widow with children, she was not
spared. She sometimes found her goods destroyed and herself
and children left entirely without means of support. Women
SUMMARY— AN ESTIMATE 239
were frequently injured, sometimes severely, and while going to
and from the meetings they were rather commonly subjected to
the grossest insults. But they persevered. Many times they
succeeded in shaming their assailants, and always resisted them
with their utmost strength. Notwithstanding their hard lot,
women contributed much toward the success of the movement.
The nature of the bitterest persecution is especially revolt-
ing. The opposers seemed to search the country for the dirtiest,
most loathsome substances on which they could lay their hands
to throw at the people and especially at the preachers. Filth
from the stables, dead animals, eggshells filled with blood and
stopped with pitch, were favorite missiles. When these were
lacking, mud, potatoes, turnips, cabbage stocks, stones — in fact,
anything that came to hand were favorable substitutes.
The bodily exposures to which both men and women were
subjected, and other outrages upon the women were sometimes
most shameful and criminal. However, of this unwelcome sub-
ject it is not necessary to go into detail here, as facts have been
given elsewhere. Fortunately, this type of violence seems to
have been practiced in comparatively few places. In those days
none but a man or woman who was willing to endure hardness
and suffering could become a Methodist. Those with even
moderate courage or devotion were quite likely to become dis-
couraged and to turn back to what seemed an easier way of life.
Unfortunately, the chief blame for the persecution of the
early Methodists, and for the horrible outrages that were com-
mitted against them, must be laid to the charge of the clergy of
the Church of England. Though much less rigid as a church-
man than his brother, John Wesley is decidedly more guarded
and conservative than Charles in his statements relating to the
clergy as instigators of trouble. Yet John Wesley makes some
very clear and definite declarations concerning them in this
matter. But Charles, the staunch churchman, is frank and free,
and it is from him chiefly that the extent of the opposition of
the clergy is known. Heavy responsibility is laid upon the
bishops. When the Wesleys and W'hitefield were first being
240 EARLY METHODISTS UNDEiR PERSECUTION
excluded from the pulpits of England a number of ministers
told them that personally they had no objection to lending their
pulpits, but they dared not, lest they should offend the bishop.
Later this fear on the part of the pastors became more pro-
nounced. Frequently the ministers frankly admitted that they
dared not to permit Methodist preaching from their pulpits.
Some replied that they dared not do it for many pounds of
At Wednesbury the minister was first pleased with the
preachers, but he had heard a vehement visitation charge from
his bishop. Also unwise words had been uttered by some local
preachers, and the fiercest riots were incited. There were but
few places where these unwise words were uttered. The Meth-
odists soon learned the disastrous consequences of this, and there
is no more record of it. But there are numerous references to
visitation charges by the bishops, which caused intensified oppo-
sition. It is also to be remembered that one of the worst out-
rages against the Methodists was at Exeter, the home of Bishop
Lavington.^ He may not have been responsible for the riot,
but there is no mention of his making any efforts to check it.
Indeed, during the earlier years at least, there is little record of
any bishop checking persecution. There is a statement, however,
concerning one bishop that he was strongly opposed to it."^
The magistrates also were largely responsible. It was their
duty to preserve order. Yet in all cases where there was perse-
cution they neglected this duty. For, when a magistrate did
enforce the law, persecution soon ceased. Sometimes, however,
they did more than to neglect duty ; they actively encouraged the
mob. In other cases when application was made to them for
warrants they refused and accused the Methodists of creating
riots. Once they threw out the complaint against the rioters
and brought in a warrant against the Methodists.
Against the opposition there were always resisting forces.
From the very first there were some magistrates that would act,
"Above, pp. 64 and loi.
'Above, p. 166.
SUMMARY— AN ESTIMATE 241
and in these localities there was quiet. Then the King's Cabinet
sent word to Wesley that the higher courts would do him justice
against the rioters. Henceforth the Methodists usually found
these higher courts effective. But in case they failed, the King's
Bench never did. There was an obstacle here, however, in the
heavy costs, for most of the Methodists were poor. Yet, when
necessity compelled, they found the means to appeal to this court
and receive justice. Even magistrates found themselves in
trouble at the King's Bench for their meddling with the Method-
ists. King George II and III both were opposed to persecution
for conscience' sake, and were resolved that while they sat upon
the throne, there should be none, if they could prevent it.
Then there was the undaunted courage of the Methodists.
Most men will weary of their own cruelties, if they see that it
avails nothing. To persecute a Methodist accomplished but
little, for usually either he or some one else was soon back again,
encouraging a devoted people or preaching to the multitude.
Sometimes these preachers deliberately walked into the face of
the fiercest rioters. And the mobs simply could not resist.
They gave way to a much inferior number, but to vastly superior
courage. They actually appear to have feared the courage of
these men, and to have been won by it.
Moreover, the rabble was constantly discovering that many
of the stories which had been circulated about the Methodists
were false. They were loudly accused of supporting the Pre-
tender, but when the Pretender landed in Scotland, and not a
Methodist went to his standard, but, rather, labored against him,
this report lost its force. One by one other stories would lose
weight. In fact, the people gradually came to know the Meth-
odists, and ceased to fear them.
Another restraining influence was the appearance of the
preacher and his sincerity. They all abstained from tobacco,
alcohol, and from all forms of debauchery and vice, which made
them clear-skinned, good-looking, or even handsome, men, when
compared with the vice-marked visage of the masses of their
time. A good face, if it is clearly seen, always appeals, even to
242 EARLY METHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
the rabble. John Wesley used to go out to the mob without a
hat purposely that they might see the outline of his face more
distinctly. Moreover, sincerity always makes a similar appeal.
The people saw that these preachers and people were willing to
suffer for what they believed, and that they would deprive them-
selves in order to feed the hungry and to clothe the naked. This
was telling, as righteousness always tells, except with studied
viciousness; and in the later years of Wesley's life very little
disturbance came from the poorer classes, but he frequently men-
tions annoyances from "those by the courtesy of England called
It should be added that these preachers toiled hard. It
was not an easy matter to ride on horseback ten, twenty, forty,
sixty, or more miles a day, besides preaching two, three, or four
times. Even ignorant men could see that this was labor. If the
preacher were a layman, it was not easy to toil all day at manual
labor, then walk several miles at night, and preach, and take still
longer journeys on Sundays. Even ignorant men could see that
this was hard. Slowly they came to realize that it was not for
selfish ends, as had been reported, but for the welfare of man-
kind that these men toiled. Often they were weary, but still
pressed on. Wherever they went they not only preached but
distributed benevolences to the poor, denounced oppression, and
rebuked wrong. Thus the results of their work convinced those
who had been opposers, of the sincerity of the Methodists.
Unrequited and disinterested toil, accompanied with tact and
kindness, is always, and was then, a powerful factor in breaking
Thus Methodism won its way and established itself in the
British Isles. Its leaders and its people profoundly believed in
the mission of the movement. It was an attempt to reestablish
primitive Christianity upon the earth. Its doctrines were such
as its leaders l)elieved were taught by the primitive church, and
they invariably endeavored to enforce the strict moral life and
the devout piety of the early Christians. Consequently, they
forged their way forward through opposition and suffering
SUMMARY— AN ESTIMATE 243
toward the goal. They appear as a people that had deliberately
and calmly resolved to perform what they verily believed to be
their duty, even if it cost them their lives. With them duty was
first; life was second. Thus bad men were transformed, evil
habits were broken, benevolent enterprises were inaugurated,
education stimulated, and a great reforming movement began to
sweep over the Anglo-Saxon world. England was aroused out
of the lethargy, ignorance, and vice into which it had sunk, and
launched on the voyage of progress and advancement which is
a certain consequence of renewed righteousness. Lecky says,
"After all that can be said of material and intellectual advan-
tages, it remains true that moral causes lie at the root of the
greatness of nations." ^ Methodism contributed to the growing
greatness of England, not only by the intensifying of its moral
life, but also by adding to the material and intellectual welfare
of mankind. It reformed thousands of men and women, re-
claiming multitudes of them from vice, idleness, and sloth, and
thus increased the productivity of the people, and also lessened
the difficult task of government. Intellectually, it established
schools and encouraged study and learning. Wherever the Meth-
odist preacher went he carried pamphlets and books for distribu-
tion among the people.^ Methodism taught that one must know
in order to live properly. These books were read by those who
before probably had read little or nothing during their entire lives.
Their example stimulated others to emulate them. Thus Meth-
odism contributed to the moral, intellectual, and material de-
velopment of the British nation.
^History of England in i8th Century, vol. ii, p. 2.
'John Wesley, Works, Several Conversations between Mr. W. and
Others, Question 2.7, paragraph 7.
I. Libraries Consulted
The Library of Columbia University, New York, N. Y.
The Library of Union Theological Seminary, New York, N. Y.
The New York Public Library, New York, N. Y.
The Library of the General Theological Seminary, New York, N. Y.
This contains a collection of Anti-Methodist publications, deposited there
by Curtis H. Cavender, and is known as the Decanver Collection. It con-
tains about one hundred and fifty volumes.
The Library of Wesleyan University, Middletown, Conn.
This contains a small collection of early Methodist pamphlets, most of
which may also be found at the Library of Drew Theological Seminary.
The Library of Drew Theological Seminary, Madison, N. J.
This library contains a great abundance of general Methodist literature,
besides local histories of Methodism. It contains the Osborn Collection of
bound pamphlets, and the Tyerman Collection of Early Methodist Litera-
ture. This collection contains over three hundred large bound volumes of
pamphlets, relative to early Methodism.
II. General Works
John Wesley, Works.
There are numerous editions of Wesley's Works, some small, others
with many volumes. Therefore, references are made to article and para-
graph. The Works contain extracts from his Journals, Sermons, His-
torical Writings, Appeals, Plain Accounts, Letters, etc.
George Whitefield, Works. Four volumes. Printed for Edward and Charles
Dilly, London, 1771.
George Whitefield, Journal, London, 1756.
The Journal of the Rev. Charles Wesley, M.A,, edited by T. Jackson. Two
volumes. London, 1849.
John Nelson, Journal. Carlton and Porter, New York.
Joseph Priestly, Original Letters by Rev. John Wesley and Friends.
Bishop of Exeter [Lavington], Answer to John Wesley's Late Letter to his
Lordship. London, 1752.
Anon, [Bishop George Lavington, LL.D.], Enthusiasm of Methodists and
Papists Compared. Printed for J. and P. Knapton, London. Part I, 1749;
Part II, 1749; Part III, 1751.
The Author of the Saints, A Satire, Perfection, etc., The Lovefeast, A Poem.
Samuel Foote, The Minor; A Comedy; second edition, London, 1760.
Israel Pottinger, The Methodist: A Comedy: Being a Continuation and
Completion of the Minor, written by Samuel Foote.^ Printed for Israel
Rev. William Brown, M.A., Vicar of Dewsbury . . . The Imposture of Meth-
odism Displayed in a Letter to the Inhabitants of Dewsbury. London, 1740.
L. Tyerman, Life and Times of the Rev. John Wesley, M.A. Three volumes.
New York, 1872.
John Whitehead, Life of John Wesley. Two volumes. Boston, 1844.
Coke and Moore, Life of John Wesley. Philadelphia, 1793.
Henry Moore, Life of John Wesley. Two volumes. New York, 1824.
Robert Southey, Life of John Wesley. Two volumes. London, 1820; New
John Hampson, Memoirs of John Wesley. Three volumes. London, 1791.
R. Watson, Life of John Wesley. New York, 1845.
G. Holden Pike, John Wesley and His Mission. Philadelphia, 1905.
J. J. Ellis, John Wesley. Fleming H. Revell Co., New York and Chicago.
Anon., John Wesley, the Methodist. New York, 1903.
L. Tyerman, Life of Rev. George Whitefield. Two volumes. New York, 1877.
Memoirs of George Whitefield. Printed for Ross, London, 1803.
John Gillies, D.D., Memoirs of the Life of the Reverend George Whitefield,
M.A. London, 1772.
Thomas Jackson, Memoirs of Charles Wesley. Two volumes. London, 1841.
L. Tyerman, Life of John Fletcher. New York, 1883.
James MacDonald, Memoirs of Joseph Benson. New York, 1823.
James Morgan, The Life and Death of the Rev. Thomas Walsh. London, 1839.
James Sigston, Memoirs of William Bramwell. Carlton and Porter, New York.
John Bulmer, Memoirs of the Life and Religious Labors of Howell Harris.
A Member of the House of Shirley and Hastings, Life and Times of Selina,
Countess of Huntingdon. Two volumes. London, 1844.
Edward Sidney, Life of Rev. Rowland Hill. New York, 1834.
Edward Sidney, Life of Sir Richard Hill. London, 1839.
Boswell, Life of Dr. Samuel Johnson. Three volumes. New York.
Boswell, Life of Dr. Samuel Johnson. G. B. Hill edition. Six volumes.
New York, 1889.
Benjamin Franklin, Autobiography.
Anna E. Keeling, Susanna Wesley and Other Eminent Methodist Women.
1 Note — The title-page of "The Methodist: A Comedy," etc., is ambiguous. At first glance
it might appear to have been written by Samuel Foote. The "Play" is not in the Collected
Works of Mr. Foote. The burden of proof indicates that Mr. Pottinger is the author.
246 EARLY METHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
James Everett, The Village Blacksmith. Carlton and Porter, New York.
The Experiences and Ministerial Labors of Several Methodist Preachers in
Connection v^ith the Late John Wesley, written by themselves. New York,
Anon., Experiences and Happy Deaths of Methodist Preachers. Dublin, 1806.
Lives of Early Methodist Preachers, Edited by Thomas Jackson, London, 1872.
This is a collection of brief biographies. The sketches were written
sometimes by the subject himself, sometimes by a friend, and occasionally
no author is given. References are made to the following :
John Furz, by himself.
Joseph Crownley, by John Gaulter.
Jonathan Maskew, by John Gaulter.
Thomas Mitchell, by himself.
John Haime, by himself.
Thomas Walsh, by James Morgan.
George Shadford, by himself.
John Pawson, by himself.
Peter Jaco, by himself.
John Pickard, by himself.
Robert Roberts, by himself.
James Rogers, by himself.
Richard Rodda, by himself.
Thomas Taylor, by himself.
C. H. Crookshank, History of Methodism in Ireland. Three volumes.
William Smith, A Consecutive History of the Rise and Progress of Meth-
odism in Ireland. Dublin, 1830.
William Myles, A Chronological History of the People Called Methodists.
George Smith, LL.D., History of Wesleyan Methodism. Volume I. London,
J. U. Walker, History of Wesleyan Methodism in Halifax. London, 1836.
Richard Roberts, History of Methodism in Almonbury. London, 1864.
James Everett, Historical Sketches of Wesleyan Methodism in Sheffield.
Anon., The Christian History. Volume VH.
Note — This is very rare, and said to be almost out of existence. Only a
small part of the set can be found in this country.
Association of Aberytwyth and Bala, History of Calvinistic Methodism.
George Lester, Grimsby Methodism. London, 1890.
John Richard Green, History of the English People. New York, 1878.
W. E. H. Lecky, England in the Eighteenth Century. New York, 1878.
John Ashton, Social Life in the Reign of Queen Anne. London, 1883.
Samuel Chandler, The History of Persecution. Hull, 1813.
V. Collections of Pamphlets
Decanver Collection. At the Library of the General Theological Seminary,
H. C. Decanver [pseudo for Curtis H. Cavender], Catalogue of Works in
Refutation of Methodism from its origin in 1729 to the Present Time.
Philadelphia, 1846; second edition, New York, 1868.
Isaac Bickerstaff, The Hypocrite : A Comedy in Five Acts. Philadelphia, 1826.
Osborn Collection. At the Drew Theological Seminary Library
A Brief Memoir of the Life and Death of Christopher Hopper. Charles
Atmore, Manchester, England, 1802.
William Toase, Memoirs of the Late Mrs. Elizabeth Arrive. Guernsey,
John Pawson, Sermon on the Death of Thomas Hanby. London.
Tyerman Collection. At the Drew Theological Seminary Library
Robert Cox, M.A., Life of John Fletcher. London, 1822 67
James Kenton, A Token to the Memory of John Wesley. London, 1791. 227
The Christian History. This part of the publication seems to be a col-
lection of writings and letters from different Methodists, relating
various occurrences 41
Quotations are from the following: Howell Harris, Mr. Edwards,
Mr. Adams, A Gentleman of Exeter to a Friend in London, Mr.
Allt, Mr. Beaumont.
Anon., Experiences of Methodist Preachers 14
Thomas Hanson, by himself.
Duncan Wright, Anon.
Thomas Lee, by himself.
Thomas Hanby, by himself.
Robert Wilkinson, Anon.
Jonathan Crowther, Methodist Manual. Halifax, 1810 242
A Short Account of God's Dealings with Mr. John Haime, by himself.
London, 1804 270
Rev. William Grimshaw, A Short Account of the Experiences of James
John Newton, Memoirs of Rev. S. Bradburn. London, 1814 21
Rev. Dr. Conyers, Memoirs of George Cussons. London, 1819 158
Joseph Cole, Memoirs of Miss Hannah Ball, Extracted from her Diary.
York, 1796 160
George Whitefield, A Letter to the Rev. Dr. Durell, V C of
Oxford. London, 1768 257
A Former Member of the University, Remarks upon the Rev. Mr.
Whitefield's Letter to the Vice-Chancellor. Oxford, 1768 257
248 EARLY METHODISTS UNDER PERSECUTION
A Gentleman of the University, A Vindication of the Proceedings
against Six Members of Edmund Hall. London, 1768 257 and 167
The same, second edition. London, 1771 167
A Master of Arts of the University of Oxford [Mr. Richard Hill,
afterward Sir Richard Hill], Pietas Oxoniensis. London, 1768 257
The same author, Goliath Slain. London, 1768 257
Thomas Nowell, D.D., Answer to a Pamphlet Entitled Pietas Oxon-
iensis. Oxford, 1768 257
The Shaver [Tyerman mentions Rev. John MacGowan as the author],
Priestcraft Defended, A Sermon Occasioned by the Expulsion of Six
Young Men from the University of Oxford. London, 1771 167
Augustus Toplady, More Work for Mr. John Wesley. London, 1772. . 210
Augustus Toplady, The Scheme of Christian and Philosophical Neces-
sity Asserted. London, 1775 188
A Gentleman of Pembroke College, Oxon., A Letter to the Rev. Mr.
Whitefield, Occasioned by His Pretended Answer to the First Part
of the Observations on the Conduct and Behavior of the Methodists.
Printed for J. Roberts, London 166
Anon., The True Spirit of the Methodists and Their Allies. London,
John Kirkby, The Imposture Detected, or the Counterfeit Saint Turned
Inside Out, etc. London, 1750 97
Anon., Methodism Unmasked, or A Letter to an Old Gentleman, who
had Amply Imbibed the very Essence of Hypocrisy, etc. Printed by
Riebau, London 68
Short Articles in the following :
Monthly Review 1761
Monthly Chronicle 1786
Gospel Magazine 1 774
London Magazine 1750, 1760, 1761
Gentleman's Magazine 1739, 1744, 1747, 1752, 1757, 1760, 1766, 1770
Arminian Magazine, as follows :
Alexander Mather, Autobiography. In a Letter to Rev. John Wesley. 1780
Short Account of John Pawson, by himself 1779
John Oliver, Autobiography. In a Letter to Mr. Wesley 1779
A Short Account of Thomas Hanby in a Letter to John Wesley 1780
Account of Mr. George Brown, by himself 1784
The Experience of Mr. Robert Roe, by himself 1784
Methodist Magazine, as follows:
Account of James Rogers, by himself 1789
Experiences of Mr. James Hall, by himself 1793
The Life of John Morris, by himself 1795
Zechariah Yewdall, by himself 1795
Memoirs of William Myles, by himself 1797
Dr. Thomas Coke, Journal 1798
Experience of Mr. Richard Moss, by himself 1798
Letter from Mr. Meyrick to John Wesley 1798
The Experiences of Mr. Robert Miller 1801
Thomas Blanchard, Account of the Life and Death of John Gilbert. . 1802
Richard Gower, Memoirs of Mrs. Hannah Stonill 1807
James MacDonald, Memoirs of John Crook, mostly from Mr. Crook's
John Gaulter, Memoirs of Mrs. Lowe 1809
Samuel Taylor, Memoirs of Mr. John Leech 1812
Memoirs of Mr. R. Consterdine, by himself 1814
Act of Parliament against Riots, 92
Act of Toleration, 15, 188, note
Adams, John, 90, 92
Adams, Mr., 225
Adams, Thomas, 64
Aggit, Mr., 120
Albinus, Postumius, 211
Alcock, Mr., 35
Annesley, Dr. Samuel, 176
Armstrong, Mr., 131
Armstrong, Nancy, 131
Arnold of Rugby, 78
Athlone, 23, 50, I07ff., 1146?., 203
Atkins, Mr., 188
Atterbury, Rev. Francis, 180, 190
Atwood, William, 24, 156
Austin, Lady, 197
Bannister, John, 163
Barley Hall, 46
Barnard Castle, 230
Bath, 17, 39, 46, 214, 229, 231
Beard, Thomas, 147, 149
Beaumont, Mr., 152
Bennet, Johii, 155
Bennet, Mr., 43
Benson, Joseph, 197
Bentley-Hall, 27, 88
Berks, County of, 187, 191
Bird, John, 91
Bird, IMary, 91
Birmingham, 45, 52, 100, 196
Birstal, 41, 102, 136, 138, 139, 142
Blatch, Benjamin, i8off.
Blickerstaff, Isaac, 220
Bolingbroke, 51, 166, 200
Borlase, Dr., i5off., 166
Boston, Lincolnshire, 74, 79
Bosworth, John, 10
Bowerbank, Mr., 197
Bowman, Rev. William, 211
Bradford, 35, I4ifj., 155
Bramley, Mr., 36
Bramwell, William, 86
Brecon, 12, 155
Bristol, 25, 38, 56, 65, 87, 160, 201,
225, 228, 231, 234
Bromhead, Mr., 190
Brooks, Thomas, I39fif.
Brown, John, 187
Brown, Mr., 112
Burnet, Thomas, 125
Butler, Nicholas, I2ifif., 229
Cadogan, Mr., 56
Cambridge, lyGQ., 197
Canterbury, 166, 218
Canterbury, Archbishop of, 17
Capiter, Mr., 64
Carteret, Lord, 213
Castle, Mary, 41
Cennick, Mr., 63, 120
Chandler, Dr. Samuel, 158
Charlesworth, Mr., 139
Chenhall, William, 153
Chevely, 187, 189, 191
Christian, John, 131
Clark, Adam, 85
Clark, Mr., 179, 194
Coke, Dr., 164
Cole, Samuel, 226
Colne, 32, 69, 163, 230
Conner, Jacon, 125
Consterdine, R., 79
Conventicle Act, 14, 15, 17, 77, 188, 190
Cooshea, Ann, 125
Cope, Mr., 58
Cork, no, i2iff., 167, 224, 229, 231
Cork, Bishop of, 165
Cornwall, 21, 29, 44, 98, 136, 150, 165,
Coventry, Bishop of, 188
Cowbridge, 26, 62
Cox, Robert, 78
Crawford, J., 47
Crisp, Miss., 9
Crook, John, 84
Crookshank, Mr., 109, 120, 133
Crownley, Mr., 123, 126
Cussons, George, 157
Dancer, Mr., 23
Darlaston, 27, 28, 75, 89ff., 228
Damey, William, 69, 82
Davies, Mr., 188
Dearsby, Mr., 81
De Queteville, Mr., 85
Devizes, 48, 102, 163, 229
Dixon, Dr., 180, 192, 195, 196
Downes, John, 136, 137, 201
Drury Lane, 51, 206, 220
Dublin, 49, 59, 107, III, Ii8ff., 127,
203, 229, 231
Dudley, 40, 100, 230
Durbridge, Mrs., 178, 189
Durell, David, i8off.
Durham, 35, 68, 146, 149
Eaton, John, 9off.
Edinburg, 202, 207
Edwards, John, 11 iff.
Egginton, 87, 93
P311is, Mr., no
Enniskillcn, 77, 113, 132, 133
Enthusiasm of Methodists and Pa-
pists Compared, The, 2i5ff.
Epworth, 21, 72, 137, 149, 164, 170 227
Eustick, Mr., 150
Everett, James, 137
Evesham, 35, 39
Exeter, 57, 64ff., looff., 240
Exeter, Bishop of, 165, 215
Fen wick, Michael, 109
Fletcher, John, 77^., 188
Fletcher, Mrs., 78
Flint, Daniel, 126
Foote, Samuel, 205ff.
Foster, Mr., 179, 194
Fothergill, Dr. Thomas, 180, 190
Fox, Charles, 52
Franklin, Benjamin, 51 note, 52, 53,
Frome, 13, I03ff.
Frost, Edward, 226
Fuller, Mary, 126
Fuller, Mr., 197
Furz, John, 64, 162
Ganson, Sir John, 225
Gardelet, Elizabeth, 127
Garden, Ensign, 43
Garrick, David, 51
Gartrell, Ann, 45
Gaulter, John, 123
Georgia, 10, 169
Gerard, Mr., 172
Gibson, Bishop, 166
Gibson, Joseph, 139
Glad wick, 81
Gordon family, 197
Gordon, Mr., 179, 194
Grampound, 74, 155
Graves, Charles Casper, I74ff.
Graves, Mr., 87, 137
Great Gardens, 20
Green, William, 105, 208
Greenfield, Edward, 152
Grenfill, Edward, 102
Grifhn, Margaret, 125
Griffiths, John, 93
Grimsby, 22, 47, 65
Grove, Thomas, i8off.
Haime, John, 70, 202
Halifax, 36, 138, 139, 14I
Hall, Bishop, 55
Hall, James, 82ff., Il4ff.
Hall, Westley, 2i3ff.
Hallward, Mr., 179, 194
Hampton, 553., 98, 2255.
Hanby, Thomas, 72ff., 108
Hands, Humphrey, 91
Hanney, Mary, 10
Harle, Mr., 81
Harris, Howell, 13, 6iff., 155, 162
Haweis, Mr., 189
Hayes, Mr., 76
Healey, Jonathan, I07ff.
Henderson family, 132
Hereford, Bishop of, 189, 191
Hewett, Mr., 189, 191
Hicks, Samuel, 84
Hide, Mr., 31
Higson, John, i8off., 195
HiU, George Birkbeck, 196
Hill, Sir Richard, 176, 179, 183, 184,
192, 194, 195
Hill, Rowland, 106, 176, 177, 178, 183,
Hitchens, William, 155
Holleran, Elizabeth, 123
Holmes, Mr,, 139
Holy Club, The, 9
Hooper, Mr., 34
Hopper, Christopher, 68
Horton, John, 127
Hughes, Ann, 125
Hughes, Morgan, 64
Hume, David, 52
Huntingdon, Countess of, 103, 148, 154,
166, 179, 196, 197, 2I2ff., 215, 224,
Hypocrisy of a Methodist Detected,
Hypocrite, The, 220
Impostor Detected, The, 2i8ff.
Imposture of Methodism Displayed,
Innys, Mr., 48
Irwin, G., 133
Isle of Man, 84
Jackson, Mr., 170
Jaco, Peter, 74, 155
Jamison, Mr., 108
Jane, John, 69
Jersey, Isle of, 85
Jewell, William, 127
Johnson, Samuel, 184, 205
Jones, Griffith, 155
Jones, James, 90, 95
Jones, Jonathan, 92
Jones, Joseph, 156
Jones, Thomas, I23ff., I28ff.
Jones, Thomas (student at Oxford),
Judith, Dowager Countess of Sirnder-
Kay, Benjamin, i8off.
Kay, Constable, 82
Kempis, Thomas a, 171
King George, 53, 67, 82, 94, 213, 223,
King James, 135
Kirkby, Rev. John, 2i8fiF.
Lane, Justice, 27, 88, 94
Larwood, John, 126
Lavington, Bishop, 57, 165, 202, 215,
Lee, Mr., 177
Lee, Thomas, 7 iff.
Leech, John, 74
Leeds, 31, 39, 68, 105, 142
Lewis, Thomas, 63ff.
Lincolnshire, 15, 74
Lingham, Elizabeth, 89
Litchfield, Bishop of, 188
Little, Mr., 132
Little, William, 131
London, 12, 18, 19, 25, 38, 39, 53, 58,
63, 71, 87, 106, 197, 201, 202, 220,
225, 226, 230, 234
London, Bishop of, 165
Long-Lane, 19, 25
Lovefeast, The, 220
MacBumey, Jolin, 113
AlacGowan, Rev. John, 185
IMagee, George, 131
Manchester, 81, 102
Mare's Green, 95
Marlborough, Duke of, 148
Marylebone Fields, 25, 55
Maskew, Jonathan, 69
Mather, Alexander, 74ff.
Matthews, James, iSofif.
M'Auliff, Joseph, 126
Maxfield, Thomas, iSoflF.
Methodists Unmasked, 222
Methodist, The, A Bui'lesque Poem,
Methodist, The, A Comedy, 207
Middleton, Erasmus, i8off.
^vliller, Robert, 78
INIinor, The, A Comedy, 2o6fI.
Mitchell, Thomas, 69ff., 227
Monmouth, 62, 85
Moore, Madam, 54
Moore, Mr., 80
Moorfields, 54ff., 59
Morgan, James, 109
Morgan, Mr., 16
Morgan, Mrs., 202
Morgan (at Oxford) 170, 172, 209
Moss, Richard, I49ff.
Munchin, Honest, 29, 94
Murlin, John, 84
Myles, William, 114
Nantwich, 57, 105
Nash, Beau, I7flf., 229
Nelson, John, 65^., 102, I36ff., 162, 168
Nelson, Mrs. John, 102, 142, 144
Newcastle, 24, 26, 149
Newgate, 10, 120, 160, 226
Newlyn, 21, 32
Newton, Mr., 188
North, Lord, 52
North-Moulton, 11, 228
Norwich, 35, 49, 76, 104
Nottingham, 65, 66
Nowell, Dr. Thomas, 180, 183^., 190,
O'Ferrall, Roger, 130
Oliver, John, 84
Ormond mob, in, 119
Oxford, 9, 16, 52, 61, i69ff., I78ff.,
201, 203, 204, 205, 209, 214, 224
Paterson, Mr., 119
Pawson, John, 76ff.
Pembrock, Alderman, 1293.
Pembroke, Earl of, 162
Penty cross, Mr., 177
Penzance, 20, 21, 151
Periam, Joseph, 9
Perronet, Mr., 46
Perry, Mr., 113
Persehouse, Justice, 27, 88, 90, 92, 94
Phillips, Mary, 127
Phillips, Mr., 78
Pitt, William, 15, 51
Plymouth, 31, 56flf.
Pocklington, 23, 35
Port Isaac, 102
Potter, Bishop, 169
Pottinger, Israel, 207
Pretender, I35ff., 20iff., 212, 24I
Pugh, Mr., 179, 194
Randolph, Dr. Thomas, 180, 190
Rangdale, 69, 226
Reeves, Jonathan, 126
Reilly, Sheriff, 123
Roe, Robert, 198
Rogers, James, 79ff.
Romley, Mr., 164
Rotherham, 105, 208
Roughlee, 32, 103
Saint Aubin, 85
Saint Eudy's, 40
Saint Francis, 216
Saint Giles, 80
Saint Ignatius, 216
Saint Ives, 21, 29, 44ff., 99, 136, 229,
Saint Just, 137, 152
Salisbury, 187, 213, 214
Salisbury^ Plain, 64
Sant, Daniel, 137
Sant, 2vlr., 100
Seagar, ]Mr., 198
Seagram, Mrs., 13
Seward, Mr., 10, 62
Shadford, Mr., 208
Shaw, Thomas, 186
Sheffield, 42ff., 97, 137
Shepherd, ^^Ir., I52ff.
Shepton, 31, 163
Shipman, Joseph, i8off.
Sidare, 131, 229
Sidney, Air., 176, 193
Sigston, James, 86
Sinclaire, General, 71
Skelton, Charles, 126
Smith, John, 112, 132
Somersetshire, 21, 63
Southey, Robert, 16, 109, 136, 137, 171,
Spencer, Blakey, 80
Staffordshire, 94, 99, 150, 225
Stillingfieet, Dr., 178, 194
Stockdale, John, 124, 129
Stone, William, 32
Sullivan, Daniel, I24ff., 128
Simderland, Earl of, 148
Swaddler, iii, 121, 126, 130
Swindle, Robert, 126
Taimton, 21, 104
Taylor, Bishop, 171
Taylor, David, 43
Taylor, Mr., 128
Tavlor, Thomas, 8off.
Thompson, I\Ir., 151, 156
Thompson, Thomas, 72
Thorpe, 44, 228
ToUy, Mr., 150
Tompkins, Henry, 150
Tooker, WiUiam, 126
Toplady, Rev. Augustus, 203
Tottenham Court, 60
Trembath, John, 120, 202
Trevecka, 13, 61, 196, 197
TrimmeU, Margaret, 126
Tuck, Stephen, 104
Turner, John, 91
Turner, Jonas, 92
Tiu-ner, Mary, 93
Valton, John, 8 iff.
Wakefield, 41, 102, 230
Walker, Air. J. U., 36, 80
Walsal, 27ff., 88ff., 230
Walsh, Thomas, I09ff.
Ward, Francis, 26, 9off., 93, 94
Waterford, 34, 128, 131, 228, 229
Watkins, John, 13
Wednesbury, 26ff., 31, 42, 44, 46, 87ff.,
163, 165, 167, 225, 229, 240
Wednock, 45, 99
Welling, Mr., 189, 190, 192(1.
Wesley, Charles, 10, 16, 28, 38-50, "T],
87ff., 89, 94, 95, 96, 97, 99, 107, 108,
118, 120, 122, 126, 137, 148, 155, 160,
161, 163, 164, 169-176, 203, 204, 212,
213, 214, 224, 234, 236, 239
Wesley, John, 9, 11, 14, 15, 16-37, 38,
51, 65, 68, 87ff., 93ff-, 98, ii8ff., 129,
130, 131, 132, 133, 136, 146, 147, 149,
150, 151, 152, 153, 154, 156, 159, 161,
162, 163, 164, i66ff., 197, 198, 199,
200, 201, 202, 203, 204, 208, 209, 211,
212, 213, 214, 215, 217, 218, 221, 223,
224, 225, 226, 227, 228, 229, 230, 231,
232, 234, 236, 239, 241, 242
Wesley, Martha, 2i3ff.
Wesley, Samuel, 172, 173, 194
Wesley, Susanna, 17
West Bromwich, 91, 92
Westell, Mr., 146
Wheatley, James, 126
Wheaton-Aston, 189, 191
Wheeler, B., 193
White, Rev. George, 163
Whitefield, George, 10, 16, 38, 51-60,
105, 121, 127, 159, 160, 161, 165, 166,
172, 174, 177, 178, 181, 182, 183, 184,
192, 194, 195, 201, 203, 204, 205, 206,
207, 215, 225, 231, 233, 234, 236, 239
Whitehead, Dr., 170
Whitmore, E., 193
Wilberforce, Mr., 14
Wilks, Milford, 93
William and Mary, 135
Williams, James, 126
Williams, Mr., 88
Williams, Mr., 230
Williams, Thomas, 118
Wood, Samuel, 34
Worcester, Bishop of, 188
Wrangle, 103, 227
Wrexham, 57, 84
Wright, Ann, 124
Wright, Duncan, 79
Wright, Mr., 192
Yeoman, James, 91
Yewdall, Zechariah, 85
York Castle, 76
Young, Mrs., 119
Deacidified using the Bookkeeper process.
Neutralizing agent; Magnesium Oxide
Treatment Date: May 2006
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