- John Pawson (1737-1806) was born at Thorner in Yorkshire, the son of a prosperous tradesman. He received a good education and trained as a builder. Pawson was converted under Methodist influence in 1760 and became a class leader and local preacher before entering the itinerancy in 1762. Pawson served mainly in the North and acquired a reputation as a dynamic preacher and gifted administrator. In 1785 he was ordained for the work in Scotland and emerged after Wesley's death as a voice for moderation and the gradual progression of Methodism as a seperate Church. He twice served as President of Conference. Source: Encyclopedia of World Methodism (1974) and Dictionary of Evangelical Biography, edited by Donald Lewis (1995)
From Inverness to John Wesley in London . Bardsley deems it a great privilege to be able to write to Wesley for his advice and no doubt, a mention in his prayers.
Since he came to Scotland, Bardsley had kept his health, God be thanked. While he was in Aberdeen, Bardsley had an agreeable time. The Methodist congregations there were much increased and several new members were added to the society.
They have a few kind people here and fairly good congregations on a Sunday. Bardsley often finds that his soul is blessed when he speaks to them. He likes Scotland much better than he expected and indeed he should because Wesley's people are very kind and far more teachable than he expected. Bardsley believes that they have 'some as warm, steady friends in this kingdom as in any part of England'. There is much need of Methodist preachers here for Satan has his seat here, just as he does in England. 'The players [travelling actors and show people] have much encouragement in most of the large towns. They have been in Inverness and have got a deal of money from the people'.
Considering how iniquity abounds in this land, is it any wonder that the British armies have fallen into the enemies hands [the British surrender at Yorktown to the French and American forces took place in October 1781 and would have been recent news] and that the Royal Navy frequently flies before the enemy. If the lessons are not learned, Bardsley fears that such calamities are only the beginning because the British sin more than either the French or the Spanish [allies with the American colonists against the British] .
Bardsley hopes that Wesley will favour them with a visit at the start of the summer. Their friends at Aberdeen would be glad to see him and so would the little affectionate society here.
Bardsley's colleagues are pretty well. [Peter] Mill has lately married [Mill was married to Ann Dalgordie of Fraserburgh (information provided by John Lenton)] - he says that he consulted Wesley on the subject.
'I would desire it as a particular favour that you will please to think of a proper Assistant for Sheffield the next year. You know Honoured Sir they will require a person who has some authority. I think if you would please to send them my worthy friend Mr [John] Pawson, he will be very kindly received'.
Bardsley wishes Wesley a happy new year. He hopes that the Lord will see fit to spare him to the Methodists for another year. 'Please to continue to watch over me in love, Reprove, rebuke, exhort me as you shall see occasion and the Lord assisting, I will endeavour to take your advice.'.
He would be very grateful for a few lines. Wesley should write to him at the house of Mr McComies in Inverness.
10 Jan 1782
From Inverness to [Peter] Mill at Widow Dalgarn's, Fraserburgh
Bardsley received Mill's letter sent from Elgin. Bardsley should have written sooner but delayed in order to give an account of the state of the society. They are doing fairly well - congregations are as good as can be expected and some people that he feared had left, have come back and are in class so that he has a secret hope that none will be lost. He has spoken with them about meeting in band but they have not yet done so. Hopefully in time, that will be accomplished also. Some of the Inverness people do not like the Methodists which makes Bardsley hope that the Lord's work will prosper. Mr Sharp is very sick - he broke his shin some time ago in coming away from preaching and has had a touch of the fever. 'Dear Mrs Sharp is much confined [to her house through looking after her husband?]'. Mill should pray that the Lord will convert his soul.
Bardsley's love should be passed to Mill's wife and any who ask after him. In a postscript he mentions that he has received the parcel from Elgin.