- Joseph Benson (1748-1821) was born of farming stock at Mamerby in Cumberland. Intended by his father for the Anglican ministry, Benson received a sound classical education and became a teacher at the age of sixteen. Converted under the influence of a Methodist cousin, he was introduced to John Wesley and was appointed classics master at Kingswood School. In 1769 Benson entered St Edmund Hall Oxford but was denied Anglican orders because of his Methodist sympathies. Afer serving for a short time as headmaster of the Countess of Huntingdon's ministerial training college at Trevecca, he joined the Methodist itinerancy in 1771. Benson was a great favourite of John Wesley and the two often corresponded. He went on to become President of Conference in 1798 and 1810 and served as its secretary in 1805 and 1809. In 1803 Benson was appointed connexional editor and in this capacity was a major influence on the development of the Methodist Magazine. Despite his own experiences, Benson was a staunch supporter of the link with the Church of England and two of his own sons entered the Anglican priesthood. Source: Encyclopedia of World Methodism (1974) and Dictionary of Evangelical Biography 1739-1860, edited by Donald M. Lewis (1995)
- Joseph Pilmore (1739-1825) was born into an Anglican family in Fadmoor in the North Riding of Yorkshire. He was converted under John Wesley's influence at the age of sixteen and was subsequently educated at Kingswood School. He was admitted to the itinerancy in 1766. In 1769, Pilmore volunteered for service in North America with Richard Boardman. For the first three years of his American ministry, he alternated between New York and Philadelphia where he oversaw the purchase of St George's Church, destined to be known as the cradle of American Methodism. He then embarked on an extensive preaching tour of the Southern colonies, forming societies in Virginia and Maryland. Pilmore returned to England in 1774 and laboured as an itinerant preacher until 1784, after which he left the movement for reasons that remain unclear. Pilmore returned to America and was ordained into the Episcopal Church on the recommendation of Charles Wesley. He remained in the United States for the rest of his life, much of which was spent as a clergyman in Philadelphia and New York. Source: Encyclopedia of World Methodism (1974), Dictionary of Evangelical Biography 1739-1860, edited by Donald M. Lewis (1995) and information provided by John Lenton.
From Lowestoft to [his brother] 'Jere' [Jeremiah] Bardsley in Tib Lane, Manchester. He received Jeremiah's kind letter and was very obliged for the same.
The Lord has been very kind - he has helped Bardsley through another winter and has blessed him with precious health so that he has been enabled 'to keep my circuit'. The arrangement is itinerants here take it in turn to spend a fortnight in Norwich, so he has not been as much in the weather as some of his colleagues [elsewhere in the country?], who travel almost every day.
The Lord's work is still going forward in this circuit - the societies increase and since he last wrote several people have lately 'tasted that the Lord is gracious'. There has been a great stir about religion in a place called Thurlton where the Methodists preach - several have been awakened and converted there recently. It would do Jeremiah good to see how lively they are. Bardsley kept a watchnight among them last night and they had a blessed time both during the preaching and afterwards. They also have good times in their prayer meetings.
Bardsley had a letter recently from dear Mr [John] Wesley. Bardsley has often thought of his brother since Christmas. They have had very sharp weather which Bardsley has feared has hindered Jeremiah from working. He would be grateful to hear how he is doing and if 'thou has not wanted coals'.
Bardsley is among kind friends here and he does not want much in life - if he can get a few pennies to pay the turnpikes, he happily goes on his way. Bardsley shall do very well until the quarter day. The Lord often blesses his soul. Spiritual matters are discussed.
If [Joseph] Benson [stationed in the Manchester circuit in 1779/80] has made 'that important change' [marriage], Bardsley wishes him all the best. [Benson had in fact married Sarah Thompson in Leeds on January 28th 1780.] Bardsley's love should be given to both the preachers [George Snowden and Benson] and to Mr Braddock and to any friends who ask after him.
Bardsley hopes to be in Norwich next Friday to start a fortnight's stay. He begs Jeremiah to write as soon as he can after receiving this to tell him how he is.
His dear love should be passed to their brother John and his blessing to the children.
Letters should be sent to him at Mr Wesley's chapel in Norwich.
They have a good society here and a pretty preaching [house]. He has received a kind letter from Mr Rowden.
21 Feb 1780
To Dr [John] Hunt, Surgeon of Loddon
From Norwich. Spiritual matters are discussed in detail.
May the Lord preserve Hunt and his wife from the dangers of polite company 'who do not love the truth as it is in Jesus'.
[Joseph] Pilmore has sent word that Hunt's letter arrived safely in London.