- George Pearson (1719-1807) was probably born in Macclesfield, Cheshire. He first heard Methodist preaching in the nearby hamlet of Shingley Fold in 1746 and he was converted soon after, marking the commencement of a Christian commitment and a membership of the Methodist society that was to last for over sixty years. Pearson sought out John Wesley during a visit to the area in May 1747 and obtained from him a promise that a preacher would be sent to Macclesfield, representing the birth of Methodism in the town. Wesley himself visited Macclesfield the Sunday after this meeting and preached in front of Pearson's house. In the years that followed, Pearson and his wife provided the itinerants with a place to stay, despite the fact that he himself was poor and had a large family of seven or eight children. In the early days, persecution was intense and his windows were broken many times. On one occasion, the mob stacked wood to burn Pearson's house down but were prevented by a warning from the mayor. Pearson delighted in helping the preachers in whatever way he could, to the extent of cleaning their shoes. His house was used as the first place of Methodist worship in the town and he was to live long enough to witness its succession by two chapels, each of which was larger than its predecessor. Pearson served as a class leader and at the time of his death at the age of eighty-eight was still leading two classes and had attended one, the week before he died, despite a rapidly declining health. He also held other offices in the society and although he grew in affluence over the years, he 'continued to be in every respect, the same plain and humble man: only that he exercised greater liberality towards the cause of God and the necessities of the poor.'. Pearson's last illness was a product of natural decay. Pearson was a taylor by trade in his early life, although by the time that he served as one of the first trustees of the Macclesfield Sunderland Street Chapel in 1780, his trade is recorded as silk throwster. His sons also prospered in the silk trade (the town's principal industry). He achieved prominence in life despite the fact that he was illiterate. Source: Arminian Magazine 1808, 272-276 and The History of Methodism in Macclesfield by Revd. B. Smith (London: Wesleyan Conference Office, 1875)
- Samuel Rowbotham (1755-1821) was a silk throwster of Macclesfield in Cheshire. He joined the Wesleyans at an early age and was a devout member for the rest of his life. Despite this commitment, Rowbotham was also a firm adherent of the Church of England. In 1780 he was appointed one of the first trustees of Sunderland Street Chapel in Macclesfield. Source: Methodist Magazine 1822, 138 and The History of Methodism in Macclesfield by Revd. B. Smith (London: Wesleyan Conference Office, 1875), 150
From Rotherham [part of the Sheffield circuit where Bardsley was stationed in 1774] to [his brother] Jeremiah Bardsley (to be left at the house of John Sedden, Hyde Park near Market Street Lane, Manchester. The love that he has for Jerry, induces him to write. He trusts that his brother remains in good health and that he still strives after God. When he thinks of the Lord's kind dealings with Jerry, he is astonished and feels such gratitude as he cannot express. Oh, that both Bardsley and his brother may serve that God for ever who has 'called us out from darkness into his [unreadable word]'.
He always loved Jerry as a brother born of the same parents, but now he loves him also as a brother born of the will of God. Spiritual matters are further discussed in detail.
Bardsley hopes that God will always keep Jerry 'in the good way'. He should pray and whenever he is tempted, he should immediately go down to his knees and confess his troubles and God will deliver him. Jerry knows what his [Jerry's] 'besetting sin' was, and should pray that he will never again be afflicted. The Devil knows their weaknesses and often tempts them on that basis.
His love should be passed on to their dear mother [Martha Bardsley] - he wants to hear how she is doing.
Letters should be sent to him at Mr James Walker, baker of Sheffield.
Bardsley is reasonable in health and is more comfortable in his soul. 'Astonishing that persecuting soul, should be found among the prophets, preaching the faith which once he endeavoured to destroy.'.
They had a quite good quarterly meeting. Since Bardsley arrived in Sheffield, about forty people have been added to the society making for a total of three hundred.
In a postscript, he adds that he sent Jerry's parcel in Taylor's wagon - perhaps brother Seddon can tell him where it can be picked up. His love should be passed on to Seddon and to Betty and to Jonathan/John Kenne and his wife and daughter.
Bardsley also ordered some [silk?] buttons to be made for him in Macclesfield from George Pearson. If Jerry could send for the buttons, he thinks that Pearson would be prepared to send them to Jerry. [Macclesfield was at this time a centre of the silk industry, of which the manufacture of buttons formed an imortant element.] Pearson goes to the Saracen's Head [Public House] in Market Street [Manchester] together with Sammy [Samuel] Rowbotham.