Josephine Butler to Maurice Gregory

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 106 3JBL/46/04
  • Former Reference
      GB 106 5398
  • Dates of Creation
      16 Mar 1902
  • Physical Description
      1 item

Scope and Content

Photocopy of a written copy of letter. Written from Cheltenham.

Speaks of her belief in Pentecostal outpourings such as were known in the first two centuries of the Apostolic Church. Counterfeits and sham arise 'but all these dangers do not turn the eyes of the true seekers from the light on the horizon which tells of an approaching day of blessing beyond what we till now dared to hope for'

She relates some of her childhood's experience, which made a great impression on her. Her early childhood, spent in the Border Country, was influenced by a follower and friend of John Wesley who came there, and secondly by the Irvingites. She and her sister, Hatty, were often taken by their nurse to the Methodist Meeting House which her father had built for the people. One of the earliest followers of the Irvingites was a Mr Sitwell of Barmoor Castle. He, like St Eustace, had a lightening conversion while out hunting and falling from his horse 'prayed aloud to the awe and astonishment of his companions'. The Irvingite church which he started at Barmoor became a great centre for the members of this sect, and JB remembers being taken there early on Sunday mornings by a governess who was an Irvingite and she remembers the 'prophesyings of some of those gifted men' [Francis Sitwell was the youngest brother of Sir Sitwell Sitwell of Renishaw.]

She also touched upon the demoniacal possession and the possibility of the gift of casting out devils being again exercised.

Administrative / Biographical History

This was a written copy (what happened to original letter not known) of the original

'Irving and the Irvingites'

Edward Irving (1792-1832) was a minister of the Scottish church. He moved to London 1822 as a Presbyterian minister at Hatton Gardens Chapel and almost at once attracted the attention of London Society by his oratory in the pulpit, so much so that within six months he was a famous man. In Mar 1831 he was excommunicated for heretical views from the ministry and membership of the established Church of Scotland. In 1835 he constituted the Catholic Apostolic Church with the cooperation of Henry Drummond (banker) and Mr Cardale (solicitor). It consisted of a hierarchy comprising: 1. Apostles; 2. Evangelists; 3. Prophets; 4. Angels or Pastors. The liturgy was characterised by elaborate ceremonies. The development of the sect after Irving's death in 1834 continued to be spectacular. At the time of Irving's death 6 apostles had been called. By the end of 1836 the College was complete with 12. There were now 12 branches in London, each with a substantial congregation. Many converts were made; at one time the community comprised over 40 churches in Great Britain

By 1854 the imposing Church in Gordon Sq was completed and remained its headquarters till recent times.(See 'Irving and the Irvingites' in 'Essays and biographies' by J A Symons, 5 1869)

'Mr Sitwell of Barmoor Castle'

This Mr Frank Sitwell was the youngest brother of Sir Sitwell Sitwell (great-great-grandfather of Sir Osbert Sitwell the writer). The hunting exploits of these brothers were many and famous - see the episode of the hunting of a 'Royal Bengal Tiger' escaped from a menagerie in Sheffield related by Sir Osbert Sitwell in his left hand, right hand: an autobiography vol 1 p 15. The sudden conversion of Mr Frank Sitwell on the hunting field 'to the awe and astonishment of his companions' is not mentioned by Sir Osbert

'I think the times are at hand when those gifts [of healing] will be restored in answer to the prayers of tens of thousands'

'Simon Magus and Elymas the Sorcerer drew many after them by sorceries and wonders which they practised and in earlier times Jannes and Jambres competed with Moses, and up to a certain point they competed successfully' Exodus 7.11. verse 412

11 'Then Pharaoh also called the wise men and the sorcerers: now the magicians of Egypt. They also did in like manner with their enchantments'

12 'For they cast down every man his rod and they become serpents' Timothy II.8 ch 3.8

'Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth ...'

'Simon which before time used sorcery' See Acts 8 9-24

'Ely was the sorcerer' See Acts 13 8-12

For instances of Healing Power in the modern world see letter of 26 Mar 1884 JB to Stanley describing her visit to the House of Healing

Biog: Maurice Gregory, John Wesley, Edward Irving Mr Frank Sitwell of Barmoor Castle, Spencer Perceval MP, Henry Drummond, Mr FB Meyer