From Granby Row [Dublin - residence of Edward Smyth and his wife.] to Mary Fletcher. Ritchie would have written sooner concerning her arrival here, but she wanted to wait until she could tell Fletcher something of how her Dublin friends were getting on.
They had a very agreeable journey to Shrewsbury. ‘Part of the time on the road was spent in enquiries and answers on both sides relative to the work of God on our souls and Mrs B-d [Theodosia Blatchford] was as you supposed she would be, very open…’ While they were walking in the street in Shrewsbury they were accosted by a quaker and invited to their meeting which was about to start. They did and heard several people speak very well on ‘resignation.’ There was one woman in particular, who while she did not say a great deal, nevertheless made an impression on Ritchie. She wished to speak to her in person but was concerned not to give a negative impression. However, after the meeting concluded, the woman came up to Ritchie and asked her if she was the friend who had been visiting with ‘neighbour Fletcher.’ Ritchie discovered that the woman was young Mrs [Abiah?] Darby. They conversed for a while and Ritchie intended to call on her but was prevented from doing so.
Mrs [Theodosia] Blatchford declined the invitation to dine at Mrs Hill’s house but they drank tea together at Mrs Glyn’s. Mrs [Glyn] was very civil indeed and invited Ritchie to have supper with her – Mrs [Blatchford] thought Glyn wanted to have some private [spiritual] conversation with Ritchie and therefore returned early in the evening to the inn. Ritchie accompanied Mrs Glynn to the Methodist preaching and then returned home with her. They had a good time of prayer and conversation and Ritchie found her to be exactly the kind of person who Fletcher had described.
They were to set off at 3 the next morning on the Holyhead coach and so they slept at the inn. There was only one other passenger, who was a civil young gentleman, and they had a very pleasant journey. They reached Holyhead at 7 on Saturday morning and after spending the Sunday ‘in a place where they worshipped in an unknown tongue’ [presumably Welsh] they went onboard the vessel Hillsborough about 8 on Sunday evening. Spiritual matters are discussed.
Ritchie found that things were better than she had expected in Dublin. Some of the people were disappointed that the new chapel is to be reserved entirely for the use of [Anglican] clergymen, but they seem content to accept the situation. [‘In July 1784 the foundation stone of the Bethesda Chapel was laid. It was built at the sole expense of Mr [Edward] Smyth…The chapel was opened according to the forms of the Episcopal [Anglican] Church on June 25th 1786…’ (C.H. Crookshank, History of Methodism in Ireland, Volumes 1 (1885), 421.] ‘Our friends here have as to themselves no objection to the lay preachers, but that others may be induced to come and hear at the chapel who have, they adopt this plan. Mr Ned Smyth who is professedly anti-Calvinistic is to be the stated minister and they hope to get occasional help from England, either moderate Calvinists or Arminian clergymen, who are to reside beneath this roof and assist him in his labours. Mr [Brian Bury?] Collins is expected here in August. Dr [Henry] Peckwell is expected to open the chapel, but writes them word he cannot come. Mr [James] Rogers etc have dined here twice since I came and all sides seem quite friendly. [Rogers was stationed in Dublin between 1784 and 1787. ] If the enemy does not get a foot in amongst them, it seems to me as if the Bethesda Chapel would only be as Mr [Miles] Atkinson used to say of the old church at Leeds; a stepping place to the Methodists for they intend to have no private meetings, but to recommend them to our’s. Mrs Ned Smyth is already a member of our society and is indeed a very precious soul.’
The warm weather suits Ritchie although she does not like the fact that it is a walk of a mile to the preaching house. Mr and Mrs [Edward] Smyth are leaving soon to go to Buxton soon so Ritchie will move to stay with Mrs [Hester Ann] Rogers in White Friar’s Street. The Smyths have offered her the continued use of their house in their absence. They are indeed the kind people that Fletcher told her that she could expect. [John and Mary Fletcher had visited Dublin for seven weeks in the late Summer of 1783.] Mr Smyth has been ordered to go to Buxton on account of his poor health. [The Buxton waters were famous for their medicinal properties.] Last Sunday night Mrs Smyth was struck with a violent pain in her bowels, which confined her to bed for a day or two but she is now almost recovered and hopes to leave her room today.
Mrs [Ann] Brooke and the D’Oliers were grateful for Fletcher’s remembrance of them.
Ritchie feels much love to the people here. Spiritual matters are discussed.
She hopes that Fletcher has made arrangements for the books to be sent as the people are very desirous of them. ‘The memory of your dear translated friend [John Fletcher] is so precious to the people here that the thought of hearing of him who they now expect no more to hear as in time past, rejoices them greatly.’
In a postscript, Ritchie passes on her love to Sally [Lawrance]. Has Mr [Melville] Horne been ordained yet?
- Theodosia Blachford (1744-1817) was the daughter of William Tighe and his wife Mary, eldest daughter of the Earl of Darnley. Theodosia married Reverend William Blachford, an Anglican clergyman of considerable private means and the Librarian of St Patrick’s Library in Dublin. Theodosia’s husband died ‘of a malignant fever’ at an early age, leaving her with a son and daughter to raise. Blachford was a devout member of the Dublin Methodist Society and was described by John Wesley in a letter of 1788 as ‘one of our jewels. I love her much.’ She spent little on her herself, and after ensuring that her own children’s needs were provided for, spent much of what was left on helping the poor. Blachford also spent several hours each day attending to the education of twelve poor girls. She was a friend of John and Mary Fletcher and was particularly close to the Wesleyan minister Henry Moore and his wife Mary Ann, periodically visiting them in England. Blachford’s daughter Mary Tighe (she was married to her cousin Henry Tighe) was a poetess of considerable reputation. Her most famous work was Pysche or the Legend of Love. Theodosia Blachford died in Dublin on 7 November 1817. Source: Dictionary of National Biography (under Mary Tighe), Gentleman’s Magazine 122: 1817, 567-568, MAM/FL 5/5/1 (MARC), The Life of the Rev. Henry Moore by Mrs Richard Smith (London, 1844) and Burke’s Landed Gentry 1853, 2:1396.
- Abiah Darby (fl.1800) was the daughter of Samuel Maude, a gentleman of Sunderland. She was married to a man called Sinclair and after his death, married the famous iron master Abraham Darby of Coalbrookdale. Resident at the family estate of Sunniside, Abiah was a correspondent of John and Mary Fletcher and was an early supporter of Sunday Schools in the parish of Madeley. Source: Burke's Landed Gentry (1853) and Fletcher-Tooth collection (MARC)
- Edward Smyth (fl.1780) was the nephew of Arthur Smyth, Archbishop of Dublin, 1766-1772. A clergyman of the Church of Ireland, Smyth was ejected from his curacy for supporting the Methodists. Expelled from the Established Church he laboured as an itinerant and was introduced to John Wesley in the Isle of Man in 1777. In 1779 Smyth moved to Bath in Somerset for the sake of his wife's health and was invited to preach at the Methodist Chapel. This caused a dispute between Wesley and the preacher Alexander McNab that resulted in McNab's temporary expulsion from the Connexion. Smyth returned to Ireland and in 1782 became one of Wesley's clerical assistants in London. In 1786 he was appointed minister of the Bethesda Chapel in Dublin, where he caused a division in the Methodist Society. He later moved to Manchester where he was curate of the churches of St Luke's and St Clement's. Source: Luke Tyerman, The Life and Times of John Wesley volume 3 (1872), 303-313.
- Brian Bury Collins (1754-1807) was born at Stamford in Lincolnshire, the son of a painter. He was educated at St John's College Cambridge and was ordained in 1781, despite opposition from several bishops because of his field-preaching for John Wesley. He served as curate to David Simpson at Macclesfield from 1781 to 1782, while maintaining an itinerant ministry in Yorkshire and Lancashire. Collins inherited a substantial estate in 1799 and this allowed him to freely indulge in evangelical activities. He was highly regarded by Hester Ann Roe and was a friend of the Countess of Huntingdon, Henry Venn and others. Source: Dictionary of Evangelical Biography, edited by Donald Lewis (1995) and J. A. Venn, Alumni Cantabrigienses (1922)
- Henry Peckwell (1746-1787) was born in Chichester, Sussex, the son of Henry Peckwell senior. In about 1764 Peckwell entered a silk merchant’s employment in London with the intention of representing the concern in Italy but he started to regularly attend Whitefield’s Tabernacle Chapel and decided to enter the ministry instead. He matriculated from St Edmund Hall Oxford in 1770 and after ordination studied medicine specifically in order to serve the poor. Peckwell founded the Sick Man’s Friend Society and was also a supporter of the Humane Society and the Society for the Relief of Persons Imprisoned for Small Debts. Peckwell itinerated for the Countess of Huntingdon and established a chapel in Chichester. He also served Lady Glenorchy’s chapel in Edinburgh and visited Dublin where his preaching caused a considerable stir. Peckwell was presented by Lord Robert MAnnrs to the rectory of Bloxholm-cum-Digby in Lincolnshire which he retained until his death although most of the actual duties were undertaken by a curate. Source: Dictionary of Evangelical Biography, edited by Donald Lewis (1995) and Dictionary of National Biography
- James Rogers (1749-1807) was born near Guisborough in North Yorkshire and entered the itinerancy at an early age in 1774. His active circuit ministry was exercised in England, Scotland and Ireland. Rogers superannuated due to ill health in 1806. The last few months of his life were spent in retirement in Guisborough where despite declining health he continued to preach twice a week until shortly before his death from a chest complaint. His Conference obituary remarks that until the time of his final illness, he contined to rise every morning at six and read his bible for an hour. In 1778 Rogers married Martha Knowlden and they had two children. After her death in 1784, he married the noted female Methodist Hester Ann Roe of Macclesfield. Source: Minutes of Conference 1807, An Alphabetical Arrangement of Wesleyan Methodist Preachers…1739-1818, compiled by Kenneth Garlick, and A Dictionary of Methodism in Britain and Ireland, edited by John A. Vickers (Epworth Press, Peterborough 2000), 299-300.
- Miles Atkinson (1741-1811) was born in Ledsham, Yorkshire, the son of Christopher Atkinson, the evangelical rector of Thorp Arch in Yorkshire. He was educated at home and Peterhouse Cambridge. After graduation in 1763 Atkinson became Curate of Leeds Parish Church and headmaster of Drighlington School. In 1768 he was appointed lecturer at Leeds and was firmly converted to evangelical views by reading Doddridge’s Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul. In 1771 he joined the Elland Clerical Society and was one of its first tutors of ordinands. Atkinson was morning lecturer at Whitchurch near Leeds (1773-80), Rector of Walton on the Hill in Lancashire (1780-88), Vicar of Leek (1785-1803) and of Kippax (1783-1811) where he established Sunday Schools for over 2,000 children. He also built St Paul’s Leeds and served as its first minister from 1793 to 1811. Atkinson’s sons Christopher and Thomas both followed him into the ministry. Source: Dictionary of Evangelical Biography, edited by Donald Lewis (1995)
- The D'Olier family of Dublin, were closely involved with Irish Methodism from an early period. Richard D'Olier was among the first subscribers to the Methodist Missionary Society in 1784 and was one of the leading lights of Dublin Methodism. John Wesley dined at his home in July 1789 just prior to leaving Ireland for the last time. Dr Isaac D'Olier (d.1841) [the exact family relationships are obscure] was acquainted with John Wesley and John Fletcher and in 1809 was one of the founders of the Hibernian Sunday School Society, which subsequently changed its name to that of the Sunday School Society for Ireland. He was also one of the speakers at the meeting in 1814 which established a missionary society for the Dublin district. He was married to the daughter of the artist and fellow Methodist Henry Brooke. Sarah D'Olier was a friend and correspondent of Mary Bosanquet-Fletcher. Source: C.H. Crookshank, History of Methodism in Ireland, Volumes 1-3, (1885-1888) and Fletcher-Tooth collection (MARC)
- Melville Horne (c.1761-c.1841) was the son of an Antiguan barrister and planter and the nephew of Nathaniel Gilbert (c.1721-1774) the pioneer of West Indian Methodism. Horne entered the Wesleyan itinerancy in 1784 and was ordained into the Anglican ministry a short time after on John Wesley's recommendation. In 1786 he succeeded to the curacy at John Fletcher's old parish of Madeley, but retained his connection with Methodism and was appointed Superintendent of the new Wolverhampton circuit in 1787. In 1792 Horne became chaplain of Sierra Leone in West Africa where he joined his second cousin Nathaniel Gilbert junior. He was however unable to adapt to the climate and returned to England in 1793 and published his Letters on Missions a year later. Horne served as Vicar of Olney from 1796 to 1799 and then succeeded the evangelical minister David Simpson at Christ Church Macclesfield. Horne enjoyed a close friendship with Jabez Bunting but this turned to coldness on both sides which culminated in Horne's final break with Methodism in 1809. He later served Anglican parishes in Essex, Cornwall and Salford. Source: Dictionary of Evangelical Biography, edited by Donald Lewis (1995)