- Thomas Middleton (1754-96) was born at Asenby in Yorkshire. His parents raised their children in a very moral atmosphere but Thomas according to his obituary 'began to shew an awkward disposition of mind, being unsteady. and showing a great aversion to learning'. He began to work for his father as a bricklayer and at the age of nineteen moved to Scarborough where he began to awaken spiritually two years later following the death of a friend. He was at the time working in a house where Methodist preachers lodged and one of these, Benjamin Rhodes, took an interest in the young man. It was not long after that Middleton joined the Methodist society and was soon converted. Two years after his conversion, he married and was appointed class leader. His business also prospered and he was able to help his parents who had fallen on hard times. His trade is described in one of the primary sources as grocer and his address as Merchant Row where he often provided hospitality for visiting preachers. Middleton also served as a local preacher and an enthusiastic visitor to the sick. His health began to fail early in 1795 and consumption was diagnosed. He died on March 1st 1796. Source: Methodist Magazine1799, 547-551 and PLP 5.6.58
From Newton [Bardsley was stationed in the Scarborough circuit in 1785] to Mrs Bisset at the house of Alexander Grant in Edinburgh. Bardsley gave up all hope of hearing from Bisset when he returned to Nottingham from London [venue of the 1785 Conference] and found her letter, He was grateful to discover that he was remembered by any of his Edinburgh friends.
[James] Rogers who his companion at Conference told Bardsley that Bisset had written to him - 'You may guess what my thoughts were upon the occasion'.
Bisset told him some strange things namely that J. R. [James Rogers] had 'supplanted' Bardsley in marrying [Hester Ann] Roe [Rogers] - he had never heard that before!. He never spoke a word to her on the subject of marriage. Bardsley's concern was rather of very different nature. 'I bless God, I am now more easy with regard to them [James and Hester Ann Rogers], and do wish they may do well'.
He hopes that Mrs Rollo will be an agreeable companion for Bisset - his dear love and regards should be passed to her. Bardsley hopes that Bisset's son will be a good soldier of Jesus Christ - he is glad that the young man writes often.
Bardsley hopes that his dear friend Mr [Alexander] Grant may be happy with his new wife.
Bardsley spent a very agreeable year in the Nottingham circuit. He was treated very kindly by his fellow itinerant [Charles] Boone and they got on very well together with positive results for their work. A little before Conference, Bardsley came down with a fever but was in bed for only two days. His journey to London did him good both with regard to his body and his soul. They had a good conference and [John] Wesley was very well and very loving.
By this time, Bisset will be aware that they are to proceed on a different plan with regard to Scotland [reference to John Wesley's decision taken at the London Conference in 1785 to ordain three preachers for the work in Scotland] - hopefully it will meet with the Lord's blessing. He would be grateful to know what Bisset's opinion is of the new arrangement and what the Methodist people think. Does [John] Pawson preach in the hours of Church of Scotland worship? Are the Scottish congregations larger? When they have a sacramental service, Bardsley would be grateful if she could write to him.Pawson is a worthy man and Bardsley has many obligations to him. He was the guide of Bardsley's youth and the person who advised him to enter the ministry.
With regard to Bisset's trials, he believes that they have been sanctified and will work together for her good. Had she not had such difficulties, is it not possible that she would not have sought God?
Bardsley would have written a letter to be carried by [John] Pawson [stationed in Edinburgh from 1785] but he has been so occupied with travelling and preaching that he has not had time. In Manchester (Bardsley's birth place), he preached with 'some enlargement to some thousands'.
May grace go with Bisset and her dear son.
In a postscript, he mentions that he is now stationed in the Scarborough circuit. He hopes that he shall like it here and the people certainly seem affectionate.
His dear love should be passed to Mrs Thompson on Carlton Hill and also to Mrs McTaggart - she should be asked if she received a few lines from Bardsley via [Andrew] Inglis [stationed in Edinburgh from 1784 to 1785].
Letters can be sent to Bardsley at the house of Thomas Middleton, grocer of Merchant Row, Scarborough.
Bardsley recently saw Bisset's dear friend [Thomas] Rutherford and his wife. [Rutherford was stationed in Edinburgh from 1775 to 1777. In 1785 he was appointed for a second year to Leeds not far from Bardsley's circuit]. They seemed in reasonable health.