Letter

Scope and Content

From Leeds to Madeley. Crosby decided to wait to hear the funeral sermon of [Abraham Dickinson] before answering Fletcher's letter.

Dickinson died at about 2 am on Thursday April 26. For the few days which he lived after Crosby last wrote, Dickinson, who was physically very weak, spoke only short sentences of praise or prayer in a low voice.

His body was interred in the 'bureing place of the Old Church' where five of his children also lie, on the Sunday after he died. He was followed by his widow [Eleanor] and seven of their children, together with two wives of his sons and his eldest daughter's husband and many other grieving relations and a great procession of people. Crosby has not seen such a 'funeral of (I believe) heartfelt mourners… for several years past. A solemn time it was!'.

Last night [Thomas] Taylor preached the funeral sermon 'wch brot us a very full house, but at other times, the Old preaching house, is but thinly filld; even on a Sabath eveng [evening] since the New Chapel was built'.

The sermon was not done at the dead man's request - he had said nothing about a funeral sermon, but Taylor spoke to Dickinson's widow and they agreed that it would benefit the living. Eleanor thought that it would be a good idea to preach from Psalm 119 verse 9 as this text had meant a great deal to her husband and had been a source of great blessing to him when he was a young man. Eleanor had found an account in her husband's hand of his 'awakening'. Taylor called on Crosby and others and they told him some things which Dickinson had said during his final illness. Taylor asked Crosby to put them into a prayer for him, but on reflection, she decided that would not be enough and she added some other things. Taylor preached a short but useful sermon on the above text and read what he had extracted from Dickinson's papers and he then read out the paper which Crosby had given him. He spoke 'honestly & honourably' of their dead friend - illnatured things are being said about him! Taylor also spoke kindly to the dead man's relations, although [Eleanor] herself was not present - she had gone for a few days to her daughter's house at Headingly for rest and clean air. There she had fallen downstairs and sprained her ankle so that she was confined to bed.

People are saying that Dickinson left an estate worth f20,000 - Crosby understands that his daughters are to get £1,500 apiece out of the business although not all at once and not until the youngest is of age. He dealt with the children as equally as possible. [Eleanor] is to get f200 per annum from an estate which Dickinson bought 'as a bargain; for the trustees of our chapels to build the new chapel on, some part or all, but they did not like to have it, so left it on his hands'. He has also instructed that six guineas be given to the [society] steward to divide among the poor of [Dickinson's] classes.

Crosby must ask that Fletcher mention no details of the division of Dickinson's estate to the preachers or anybody else - nobody here knows about the will contents of the wiexcept for the few friends whom [Eleanor] has confided in - she was at Crosby's house the day Fletcher's letter arrived and was very thankful for Fletcher's remembrance of her. Before that she had asked Crosby to see if Fletcher would write a letter to her. [Eleanor] intends soon to give up her business and live a more retired life - she has two daughters and her two youngest sons living at home with her.

Fletcher was asking about Mrs Mather - she is in no way related to Mr Merriot [Thomas Marriott], although Merriot's son [William] was very kind to Mr [Alexander] Mather and gave a him a great deal of money to give to the poor - some say that he gave him £20 per annum for that purpose and Crosby thinks that it was in fact more. Mather got a yearly allowance for dear Mrs Dobinson and Mrs Green of Rotherham after their troubles, for as long as they lived. There is also a good young man, a grandson of old Mr Merryweather[?] - Crosby cannot remember if it is him or his father. This young man is very generous to Mrs Mather, investing her money wisely in [stocks and shares]. Crosby also thinks that he gives Mather money to give to deserving and needy cases, or at least that she suggests suitable people and he sends her the money to distribute.

Mrs Mather has on occasion given Crosby a guinea note, and on the occasion of the last Conference to be held here [18011, she gave her two as from Mr [Merriot] - 'in THIS Mrs M does not let her left hand know, what her right hand does: for I never heard her mention ye last thing of giving to my body! altho I know many [unreadable word] home she has given. She never gave ME any thing, in the presence of Sr [Anne] Tripp; but always alone! altho it wd not signify; as Sr T has all my money, to make her payments with & I have it, as I want it from her…'

Tripp has had, for three weeks past, a sore complaint in her left eye which kept increasing until she was left in blindness and violent pain. She had four leeches applied at one time, which has made fora slight improvement.

Crosby has been feeling better although a little exercise causes her discomfort.

Spiritual matters are discussed.

With regard to Mrs Mather's background. Apparently she was orphaned at a young age and was raised by her uncle a clergyman. She was sent to a boarding school in Highgate [London], intended to suit her to run her uncle's household, he being a single man possessed of a good fortune, but she angered him so that he 'put her from him' and left nor gave her a single shilling. Another relation recommended her to a position as a lady's maid to a lady whose daughter had married. 'The old lady begd of her, to go to her daughter, to overlook, & order all her family, she being young. She lived their many years, savd much money. Mrs & children greatly respected her; & do still. Mr Milns is the family near Wakefield. A horse hurt her; They sent her to lodgings nr Leeds, for Mr [William] Heys advice. By this means, she heard Methodists, was converted. Mr [Mather] was then in Wakefield Circuit [1788], where she heard HIM & then became his wife!

[Annotated by Mary Tooth - 'to transcribe in part Dec 1 1835'].

Notes

  • Mrs Mather (f1.1804) was the wife [probably the second wife] of the prominent Wesleyan minister Alexander Mather (1733-1800). Her maiden name and Christian name are unknown. She was orphaned at an early age and was raised by her uncle who was an Anglican clergyman. Educated at a boarding school in Highgate, London, she was abandoned by her uncle after a disagreement and worked for several years as a lady's maid in Yorkshire. While recovering in Wakefield in 1788 from an injury, she was converted by the preaching of Alexander Mather and the two subsequently married. The couple had at least one child, a son named William Marriott Mather, who died aged nine in 1802. After her husband died, Mrs Mather moved to Leeds where she was a member of the circle which included Sarah Crosby. Source: George John Stevenson, City Road Chapel, London, and its Associations, Historical, Biographical, and Memorial (1872), p.161
  • Thomas Marriott (d.1775) was a baker of Norton Folgate, London. Marriott and his wife Webster (d.1772) were among the earliest members of the Foundry Society and he was on the first list of select members in 1744. The Marriotts' son William (1753-1815) was a wealthy stockbroker and a devout Methodist who gave away large sums to charity The noted Wesleyan minister Alexander Mather served as an apprentice to Thomas Marriott and was converted during that time. Source: George John Stevenson, City Road Chapel, London, and its Associations, Historical, Biographical, and Memorial (1872), pp.572-574

Note

Notes

  • Mrs Mather (f1.1804) was the wife [probably the second wife] of the prominent Wesleyan minister Alexander Mather (1733-1800). Her maiden name and Christian name are unknown. She was orphaned at an early age and was raised by her uncle who was an Anglican clergyman. Educated at a boarding school in Highgate, London, she was abandoned by her uncle after a disagreement and worked for several years as a lady's maid in Yorkshire. While recovering in Wakefield in 1788 from an injury, she was converted by the preaching of Alexander Mather and the two subsequently married. The couple had at least one child, a son named William Marriott Mather, who died aged nine in 1802. After her husband died, Mrs Mather moved to Leeds where she was a member of the circle which included Sarah Crosby. Source: George John Stevenson, City Road Chapel, London, and its Associations, Historical, Biographical, and Memorial (1872), p.161
  • Thomas Marriott (d.1775) was a baker of Norton Folgate, London. Marriott and his wife Webster (d.1772) were among the earliest members of the Foundry Society and he was on the first list of select members in 1744. The Marriotts' son William (1753-1815) was a wealthy stockbroker and a devout Methodist who gave away large sums to charity The noted Wesleyan minister Alexander Mather served as an apprentice to Thomas Marriott and was converted during that time. Source: George John Stevenson, City Road Chapel, London, and its Associations, Historical, Biographical, and Memorial (1872), pp.572-574