- Francis Wrigley (1746-1824) was born in Manchester. He entered the Wesleyan itinerancy in 1769 and exercised an active circuit ministry for fifty-five years in England, Ireland and Scotland. His conference obituary describes him as a rigid enforcer of Methodist discipline. In his personality there was 'a degree of harshness; and he retained throughout his life an abruptness of manner, which not infrequently produced…an opinion unfavourable to his courtesy: but those who knew him best, discovered in him great tenderness of affection…'. At the time of his death he was the oldest Methodist minister. Wrigley was buried at City Road chapel in London. Source: Hill's Arrangement 1819 and Minutes of Conference 1825
- Samuel Bradburn (1751-1816) was born at Gibraltar, the son of a soldier. He joined the itinerancy in 1774 and gained such a reputation for pulpit oratory that he was dubbed the Methodist Demosthenes. A close friend of Charles Wesley, he exercised a vigorous and successful ministry in England and Ireland. Bradburn served as President of the Wesleyan Conference in 1799, remaining within the parent Connexion despite some sympathy for the views of the reformer Alexander Kilham. Source:Dictionary of Evangelical Biography 1739-1860, edited by Donald M. Lewis (1995), Encyclopedia of World Methodism (1974) and Methodist Worthies (1884) by George John Stevenson
- Joseph Bradford (c.1741-1808) was born possibly at Blandford in Dorset. He entered the itinerancy in 1773 and after serving circuits in Cornwall and Bristol, accompanied John Wesley for several years as his companion and secretary. After falling ill in 1781, Bradford returned to the circuit ministry before resuming travelling with Wesley from 1787 until the Methodist leader's death. Bradford was a member of the committee which drew up the Plan of Pacification in 1795 and served as President of Conference that same year and again in 1803. He also served as Governor of Kingswood School from 1798 to 1801. Bradford appears to have been suffering from mental instability in the period just prior to his death. Source: Dictionary of Evangelical Biography 1739-1860, edited by Donald M. Lewis (1995) and An Alphabetical Arrangement of Wesleyan Methodist Preachers, compiled by Kenneth Garlick (1975)
- James Needham (1772-1818) entered the itinerancy in 1799 and served for nineteen years, mainly in the North of England. He died on June 27th 1818 while stationed in the West London circuit, after an illness lasting a few days
- Benjamin Gregory (1772-1849) was born near Belper in Derbyshire. He entered the itinerancy in 1799 and 'laboured with great acceptance and usefulness for twenty-nine years and a half, principally in Lincolnshire and the North Riding of Yorkshire'. He retired in 1829 to Belper where he continued to preach locally and was apparently well- known for his extreme diffidence, 'amiable disposition and.zeal and efficiency'. In 1807 when Gregory was serving in the Retford circuit, he was the subject of criticism by two senior preachers Samuel Bardsley and Francis Wrigley. Bardsley went so far as to describe Gregory as not appearing right in the head and questioned whether he should have been recommended for the itinerancy. Source: PLP 5/6.65 and Minutes of Conference 1849
From Badsworth [part of the Wakefield circuit where Bardsley was stationed in 1807] to [Francis] Wrigley at the Methodist chapel in Single Street, Lincoln. Wrigley's last arrived safely. As Bardsley had heard nothing more from Longsight [outskirts of Manchester], he was unable to think of anything more to say. He is sorry for Mr W. and it is certainly a complicated piece of business. [Samuel] Bradburn raised £49 in Hull for the Bible Society. Bardsley heard at Selby that [Joseph] Bradford has had a fit of the palsy. Has Brother [James] Needham written to Wrigley?
Bardsley wonders who recommended [Benjamin] Gregory for the itinerancy? He appeared at the [Liverpool] Conference as if he was 'hardly right in his head. Such men ought not to be sent through our circuits to give us trouble and to bring us into contempt. I hope you have wrote to his assistant'.
The Pocklington Methodists are likely to suffer because of their candour. People of a Calvinist persuasion have 'mingled' among them for years and pretended friendship for the Wesleyans and now they are trying to divide them. 'I am sorry for the outcasts at Market Weighton. Some of them were my kind friends. It is a party affair'.
Mr Shirtliffe comes sometimes to the preaching but Bardsley has few hopes at this time of seeing him rejoin - Bardsley does not know why he left. He does not know William Ellis at Sherburn, but he sleeps sometimes at Mr Flint's - he is well but has a large family. Flint keeps a shop and also teaches at school. He gave up his farm.
Wednesday 9th December
He is still at Badsworth. There was a large fall of snow on Monday evening so he did not think it safe to proceed with his journey. He is among kind friends. The storm has now abated and he is hoping to leave soon, except that while he was writing this the snow began again. He would appreciate it if Wrigley could keep what he says about Market Weighton to himself - both Bardsley and Wrigley have some friends there so it would not do for word to get back.
On Saturday he travels to Pontefract for a week and on Monday the 14th he hopes to be at Selby. Wrigley should write to him at either of those places and let him know what he has heard concerning Brother Bradford's condition and any other news. 'I see great beauty in being an honest upright Methodist preacher'.
His kindest love should be passed to Mrs Wrigley.
From Knottingley, Friday 11th December
A man here has informed Bardsley that he heard [Joseph] Bradford preach twice in Hull on Sunday last and on Monday night.
There has been much talk in Leeds about petitioning the King for peace [with France]. Some of the Methodists have been among them and [Samuel] Bradburn has been disapproving of their conduct, which produced in the Leeds newspaper a scurillous letter addressed to Bradburn concerning his conduct and signed 'An old Methodist'.
If Wrigley writes to Bardsley in Selby, he should send it to Mr Foster the bookseller.