From C[atherine] Sleep [Wife of the Wesleyan minister William Sleep (1779-1852).] in Chalford to Mary Tooth in Madeley. Her husband [William] says that she should write to Tooth first, and as she has a free afternoon (her husband is away for two or three days on circuit business) . Reference is made to the kind hospitality that the Sleeps enjoyed at Tooth’s house.
They arrived here in their new situation to find that their new home was situated four miles from Stroud out in the country and on the summit of a high hill scattered with many houses. The Wesleyan chapel stands at the base of the hill and the road from the Sleeps’ house to the chapel is very poor and even dangerous. Their residing here is very inconvenient.
Another problem is that few Methodists live nearby and when Mr Sleep is away from home, she feels quite isolated – the few Wesleyans who are close tend to be fully occupied with working in the factories. ‘My soul feels this privation greatly’.
There are two dissenting chapels close by and these are of much larger standing than the Wesleyan chapel and are long established. Calvinism seems to be rife in this part of the country – [George] Whitefield often laboured in these parts.
Tooth would be excused for wondering why the Wesleyans have set up in such a place when there are so few members. In a very hasty manner, this building was acquired two years ago ‘for the second preacher who previously lived at Stroud and Mr W[oodall]121 our predecessor lived here for the last two years, but by no means contentedly…’ [Woodall was stationed in Stroud between 1819 and 1820.] After strenuous efforts, the Sleeps have managed to acquire a house in Stroud and, all things being well, they will move there at Christmas. It is a shame that their removal will inconvenience the few Wesleyans who live close by here, but there are many good people in Stroud who will benefit from their moving closer.
Things are going well in circuit and many backsliders have returned to the fold, but they want to see a ‘greater outpouring of the spirit of the Lord…’
Since they moved to this circuit, C[atherine] has been home and found her dear father and friends well – many of them are doing well spiritually. The soil of Cornwall is indeed very fruitful for Methodism and the county has benefited as a result.
Her dear old [class] leader Mr Corn[?] is still alive – he and Mrs C. enquired after Tooth and also for Mr [John] Sumner [stationed in Broseley in 1821].
The Sleeps would be pleased to hear how their friends are getting on at Wellington [The Sleeps were stationed in Wellington in 1819 and 1820.] and they would be grateful for their regards being passed to Mr and Mrs Crowther and Mr [John] Sumner
- William Sleep (1779-1852) was converted at the age of 15 and joined the Wesleyan Methodist Launceston circuit of Cornwall. He entered the Wesleyan ministry in 1806 and served in English circuits, mainly in the South-west until superannuation to the Helstone circuit in Cornwall in 1840. Sleep suffered a stroke in 1847 which left him paralysed, although he was still able to meet his class for some time afterwards. He died following a long decline on 30th March 1852. Sleep was married to a woman with the initial C – this was probably the former Catherine Williams, who married one William Sleep at Maldron in Cornwall in June 1816. Source: Minutes of Conference 1852 and IGI
- William Woodall (fl.1803-26) entered the Wesleyan itinerancy in 1803 and served circuits in the Midlands and in Wales until superannuation in 1825 to Abergavenny. He retired voluntarily from the ministry in 1826. Source: Hill’s Arrangement 1822 and Minutes of Conference 1826