The Samuel Bardsley collection consists of original correspondence and related documents produced by Samuel Bardsley during the early 18th and late 19th centuries. It is made up of correspondence, and four books, only one of which has been catalogued; this contains transcripts of letters and a diary.
The letters begin with Samuel Bardsley’s second year as an itinerant preacher in 1769 (when he was 23) and cover the next nine years during which he served important circuits in England and Scotland. Those letters transcribed in the book cover his time in the Derbyshire and Macclesfield circuits between 19 September 1772 to 4 October 1773 .
The diary covers fourteen months from August 1765 (the year he was introduced to John Wesley) to October 1766 when he was aged nineteen. It covers Bardsley's early preaching attempts in Manchester and surrounding towns and villages. The worship life of the Manchester Methodist society is described in detail and among several interesting features of the narrative, Bardsley often summarised the sermons of other preachers as part of his own drive for education. The diary represents a remarkably vivid account of the everyday life and ministry of a local preacher who went on to become one of Wesley's chief itinerants.
Unlike some of his contemporaries, Bardsley's handwriting is legible and his narrative follows a natural progression. His record of events in correspondence and diaries is detailed and he shows no reluctance to reveal names and describe incidents or his own innermost feelings, as for example on August 20th 1765 when he relates how, during his visit to Manchester for the Conference, John Wesley took Bardsley's arm and walked with him through the streets of the city; Bardsley was struck by this gesture of comradeship from an Oxford-educated Anglican minister to a Manchester bottle-washer and thereby reveals one of the secrets of Wesley's ability to inspire and lead men and women from all backgrounds.