From Robert Lewis in Bristol to Mary Bosanquet in Cross Hall, Leeds. At last he is able to sit down and thank her for the kind letter that she wrote. He should have replied immediately but wished to wait for the result of his mother [in-law’s] sickness as they were in daily expectation of it being culminating in her decease. They were not mistaken in this, for on Tuesday March 6th between four and five in the afternoon, she passed away. He has been prevented from writing since then because of the press of business.
‘It is with singular pleasure that I can inform you, that your aged & afflicted friend my mother-in-law, for whom you was so affectionately concerned was enabled to witness a good confession, some time before she went off, in the last day or two, that she could speak intelligible, she in explicit terms told Mr [John] Pawson, that she had no doubt, that Jesus was hers and she was his! & to Mr Lewis she said that if she was never able to speak any more, she [he] might inform her friends that at her death she went safe to God…’ Spiritual matters are discussed. Her illness and suffering had been severe.
With regard to his own wife, Lewis feels it incumbent on him to first of all mention his own obligations to Fletcher ‘for the share wch she in particular holds in your esteem’. Labouring under the disadvantage of a weak constitution, she suffered ‘most from the late visitation’ [her mother’s death?]. She was very close to her mother and they were rarely apart during the final illness, ‘notwithstanding some attention must be paid to the business, such as it was, my father-in-law being utterly unable in any respect whatsoever to give the least assistance, neither was it in my power to render her any great alleviations…as I was obliged to be without’. She has however, with God’s assistance, been able to bear this burden and was resigned to God’s will and trust in him. Her health has however been much worse recently and this has been made worse by the press of business that still comes her way. She consents to this work in the hope of bringing her father’s ‘matters to a period in the course of this ensuing summer…’ As for Lewis’s own [temporal] circumstances, they are good and likely to remain so.
Spiritual matters are discussed in detail.
Both Lewis and his wife send their regards to Miss [Ann] Tripp, Miss [Elizabeth] Ritchie and Miss Marshall.
- 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 separate Church. He twice served as President of Conference. Source: Encyclopedia of World Methodism (1974) and Dictionary of Evangelical Biography, edited by Donald Lewis (1995)
- Ann Tripp (1745-1823) of Leeds, was converted by Thomas Maxfield and was a Wesleyan Methodist since at least 1762. She was an intimate friend of Mary Bosanquet-Fletcher and Sarah Crosby. Tripp was one of the most senior members of the Leeds Society and served for many years as a class leader. Source: Methodist Magazine 1823, p.706
- Elizabeth Ritchie (1754-c.1835) was born in Otley, Yorkshire, the daughter of a naval surgeon. Ritchie's parents were Methodists and John Wesley often stayed at their home. As a young woman, Ritchie attended her local parish church and regarded Methodism with some hostility. Converted in 1772 she was appointed a class leader and became influential in the Otley Methodist society as a teacher and spiritual advisor. After 1780 she traveled quite extensively and corresponded with many leading evangelicals especially John Wesley, who summoned her to his side during his final illness. She was a close friend of the preacher Sarah Crosby. In 1801 she married Harvey Walklate Mortimer and settled in London where she resumed her role as a class leader. Source: Dictionary of Evangelical Biography, edited by Donald Lewis (1995) and Encyclopedia of World Methodism (1974)