From Elizabeth Ritchie in Finsbury Square, London, to [Mary] Fletcher in Madeley. Soon after Ritchie wrote her last letter to Fletcher, she heard that Miss Marshall’s condition had worsened and that her nieces had left her. Ritchie wrote to Miss Rhodes asking for more information – Rhodes was going over to Otley to see Marshall. Ritchie was considering visiting her dying friend and staying until the end. Rhodes responded that Marshall’s suffering was over and that Rhodes had been with her during her last ten days. Marshall had often said that she felt at peace with God but that she wanted more evidence of the divine love. She died in peace ‘but not triumphant.’
Ritchie would have wanted to be with her friend but perhaps it is for the best – ‘Sister Rhodes is at present under such a peculiar dispensation that she was far more likely to be useful to my poor dying friend than I should have been.’
She does not know if she mentioned to Fletcher that Mr Marshall had become insolvent and though ‘Park Gate etc was given up into the hands of his creditors, there is not likely to be more than ten shillings in the pound.’ His sister’s fortune was not in his name and has been secured for the use of the children allowing Mr and Mrs Marshall £20 per annum for the rest of their lives.
Ritchie received Fletcher’s letter via Mr Yates. Her kind gift of money to Brother C. came at an opportune time as some weeks ago his poor wife had a fall which injured her arm and she has not been able to dress herself since. They have a house which used to bring in part of their support, but the extra help they have been forced to employ and the fact that the house is unoccupied has caused them difficulties. Mr [Robert Carr] Brackenbury allows them £10 per annum or they would not be able to cope.
Brother Clark has been much inwardly troubled lately, but he will ‘more than conquer all.’ He is missing his wife and though he lives a life of faith, has conflicts with the powers of darkness.
Lady Mary [Fitzgerald] sends her love and says that she received Fletcher’s last letter. She has not been well and will therefore answer it through a note sent with Mr [James] Ireland. She has just given Ritchie a £10 note to send to Mrs Dobinson.
Jenny Dobinson has been in town and informed Ritchie of Fletcher’s kindness.
Business matters are discussed in detail with particular regard to investments made in the Kennet and Avon Canal Company by Ritchie, Fletcher and William Pine and his wife.
Her regards should be passed to dear Sally Lawrance.
In a postscript she mentions that Mr [Peard] Dickinson’s child is lively but small.
There is currently a good work going on in Yorkshire, with 70 or 80 justified in the one meeting. The last meeting was held in Leeds.
- Mrs Dobinson (1725-1803) was one of the first Methodists in Derby. Originally resident in London, she is said to have come under religious influence after her marriage in 1753. The final stage in the conversion process was achieved after hearing a sermon by the evangelical minister William Romaine in 1758. She subsequently attended class meetings at the Foundery and became a close friend of Sarah Crosby. In 1761 the Dobinsons accompanied Crosby when she moved to Derby, with the specific intention of introducing Methodism to the town. Dobinson served as a class leader and visitor to the sick and dying for the rest of her life. She died on April 12 1803 after a long period of ill health. In keeping with her background, she was buried at the Anglican parish church and had a funeral sermon preached at the Methodist chapel. Source: Methodist Magazine 1803, pp.557-566, and article entitled 'Early Methodism in Derby', from the magazine Christian Miscellany December 1870