From Mark Robinson in Beverley to Mary Fletcher in Madeley. It is now about three years since he wrote to her last on the subject of [John] Fletcher’s supposed appearance after his death. Mary was so kind as to reply with a highly gratifying letter. Several of Robinson’s friends have seen the letter and were equally delighted with the contents. They would like to have copies of the letter if she has no objection.
He would also be very grateful if she could perhaps let him have a specimen of her husband’s handwriting. An old letter of his on any subject that contains nothing that she would prefer remain private would be very pleasing to him. Mr [Charles] Atmore was kind enough to let Robinson have a specimen of John Wesley’s script, but he has never seen an example of John Fletcher’s hand. He hopes that she will not regard this request as presumption, but rather a mark of his great respect for her husband.
If Mary is kind enough to write back to him there is one thing from her last letter which he did not understand either from her letter or the bible. He would be grateful therefore if she could explain the following: ‘We are come to the spirits of the just made perfect.’
Robinson hopes that the work is proceeding well in Madeley. Methodism is Beverley is prospering although not as rapidly as one would wish. They have three good preachers here [in the Hull circuit] – [Charles] Atmore, [John] Hickling and [Edward] Hare.
A gentleman has been at Robinson’s house recently who was personally acquainted with John Fletcher and with Mary also. His name is Barnard Clarkson of Shifnall[?]
- Charles Atmore (1759-1826) was born at Heacham in Norfolk, the son of a ship's captain. After the early death of his mother, he was raised by his aunt and uncle. Atmore was converted by the ministry of Joseph Pilmore in 1779 and became a local preacher before entering the itinerancy in 1781. Despite his youth, Atmore was named to the Legal Hundred in 1784 and was ordained by Wesley for the work in Scotland in 1786. He was President of Conference in 1811 and was actively involved in the establishment of the Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society. Source: Dictionary of Evangelical Biography 1739-1860, edited by Donald M. Lewis (1995)
- John Hickling (1765-1858) was born at Hathern, Leicestershire. He started to attend Methodist worship at the age of 17 and was converted shortly after. He became a local preacher in 1788 and that same year entered the itinerancy. His active circuit ministry was exercised principally in the North of England and the Midlands. He superannuated in 1836 and spent his retirement in Newark and then from 1856 in Newcastle under Lyme where he died on 9th November 1858. His conference obituary described Hickling as a man of blameless character of great kindness and attachment to the discipline of Methodism. His preaching was ‘distinguished by a clear, full and bold enunciation of evangelical truth…He dwelt especially on the doctrines of justification by faith only, the witness of the Holy Spirit to the fact of a penitent believer’s adoption into the family of God, regeneration and all outward and inward holiness…’ He was particularly noted for the quality of his public prayer. Hickling was the last survivor of the itinerants who entered service during John Wesley’s lifetime. Source: Hills Arrangement 1858 and Minutes of Conference 1859
- Edward Hare (1775-1818) entered the Wesleyan itinerancy in 1798 under the influence of his friend the prominent minister Joseph Benson. Hare was described in his conference obituary as 'a man of no ordinary talents and character'. Hare's circuit ministry was affected by poor health and he finally died in Exeter of consumption. Source: Minutes of Conference 1818