Letter

Scope and Content

From Mary Naylor in Sedgley to Mary Tooth. It has been such a long time since Tooth wrote to her ‘unworthy friend’ that Naylor thinks she must be unwell or that perhaps she does not wish to be in contact any more. Naylor must not however give Tooth up.

Perhaps Tooth thinks sometimes of the Dudley circuit. They now have a good class meeting at Sedgley with some conversions. Mr [unreadable name], a young gentleman, attends the Methodist preaching – Naylor has called upon him several times and found him to be a well-informed man. He has also expressed a willingness to help the cause. She is sure that in her place Tooth would already have asked him to come to a class meeting, but Naylor has not done so yet. He does however take the [Methodist] Magazine and she is sure that the Lord will bring all things about in his own time. Naylor has plain working men in the Sunday morning class that she leads, but she has never yet ‘took upon myself to speak to gentlemen. I therefore have all in the Lord’s hands…’

‘We have no man meets with us at Sedgley yet, [unreadable word] very few attends preaching…’ All the [itinerant] preachers seem interested in the progress of the work here. Surely the Lord has begun a great work. Reference is made to Miss [Sarah] Jenkins and what she would have done if she were still alive.

They have good preachers here, both local and itinerant. ‘They strive hard for souls.The Wolverhampton circuit at this time is getting[?] on through three faithful labourers. My dear Dudley circuit too is doing well. The Lord has sent faithful labourers…our good Mr [John] Waterhouse, [[Samuel] Lear and [William] Pemberton are superior men of God, have openness of temper, faithful servants with their private visiting.’ Naylor would dearly love to see reproduced here the ‘simplicity and plainness’ that she witnessed in Madeley. Spiritual matters are discussed.

Naylor has been very unwell of late.

Spiritual matters are discussed – if they remain faithful then in a short time they will be re-united in heaven with dear Mrs [Mary] Fletcher.

Naylor’s dear sisters are good girls and they both meet with the class at Sedgley. There is such a blessed change at Naylor’s home. The preachers and people come and Naylor’s sisters ‘wait upon them’ and Naylor has suffered no unpleasant or unkind words [from the rest of her family]. Spiritual matters are discussed in detail.

Notes

  • Sarah Jenkins (1808-27) was born of Anglican parentage at Allscott, in the parish of Worsfield, Shropshire. She began to experience religious stirrings at the age of fifteen during a visit to a cousin in Staffordshire. Shortly after her return, she was introduced to a circle of notable Methodist women at the centre of which was Mary Tooth of Madeley, the one-time companion of the evangelist Mary Fletcher. Her family was against her Methodist leanings, although this worked to her advantage, as Sarah’s father chose to allow the preachers to have their meetings in one of his properties, rather than allow his daughter to stray elsewhere. This provided the opportunity for the first Methodist sermon to be preached in her village. Sarah, despite her age, was at the forefront of the work, distributing tracts and visiting the poor. She was also quickly appointed class leader. In 1825, she visited London for a stay of several months and worshipped at Hinde Street Chapel where she was introduced to surviving members of the Wesley family. Upon her return to Shropshire, Sarah continued her work at Alscott. In December 1826, her father died and a few weeks later her brother Charles fell ill and also passed away. Sarah was occupied in supporting her mother and her own health began to suffer. She died on January 27th 1827 at the age of eighteen. Her brother John died two months later and her sister Jane and brother William also fell ill and did not long survive the other members of her family. Of the Jenkins children who died during this three month period, all except John were teenagers or younger. The secondary sources do not reveal the cause of death, although an epidemic of some kind would seem likely. Source: Memoirs of Sarah Jenkins by Mary Tooth (London, Methodist Book Room, 1829)
  • Samuel Lear (1785-1832) joined the Methodist society at the age of 17 and entered the itinerancy in 1808. He exercised his circuit ministry in the Midlands and North of England and died following an apoplectic fit in June 1832 after a long period of declining health. Source: Hill’s Arrangement 1827 and Minutes of Conference 1832
  • William Pemberton (1806-1851) was born in Leeds, Yorkshire. He was converted at the age of 12 and entered the itinerancy in 1826. He exercised his circuit ministry in the Midlands, the North of England and the Isle of Man until his death, which occurred, while he was stationed in the Newcastle upon Tyne circuit. Pemberton’s conference obituary refers to his staunch fidelity to Methodist discipline in the face of opposition. This indicates that he was involved in the various controversies and divisions that afflicted Methodism in the second quarter of the 19th century. Source: Hill’s Arrangement 1847and Minutes of Conference 1851
  • Thomas Hartley (c.1709-1784) was born in London, the son of a bookseller. He was educated at Kendal School and St John's College Cambridge, graduating in 1728. In 1737 he was appointed to a curacy in Middlesex and in 1744 became Vicar of Winwick in Northamptonshire. Hartley kept the living for the rest of his life, but does not appear to have been resident after 1770. Hartley was an evangelical sympathiser and was acquainted with the writer James Hervey. However, he also displayed mystical tendencies which became more pronounced over time. He published on mystical and millenarian themes from 1754 and in 1769 started to correspond with the Swedish mystic Emanuel Swedenborg. He visited Swedenborg in London in 1770 and that same year published an English translation of Swedenborg's De Commercio Animae et Corporis (1769). This was the first of several publications that Hartley produced, which were influenced by his relationship with Swedenborg. In 1772, Hartley moved to East Malling in Kent where he died on 10 December 1784. Source: Dictionary of National Biography and Dictionary of Evangelical Biography, edited by Donald Lewis (1995)

Note

Notes

  • Sarah Jenkins (1808-27) was born of Anglican parentage at Allscott, in the parish of Worsfield, Shropshire. She began to experience religious stirrings at the age of fifteen during a visit to a cousin in Staffordshire. Shortly after her return, she was introduced to a circle of notable Methodist women at the centre of which was Mary Tooth of Madeley, the one-time companion of the evangelist Mary Fletcher. Her family was against her Methodist leanings, although this worked to her advantage, as Sarah’s father chose to allow the preachers to have their meetings in one of his properties, rather than allow his daughter to stray elsewhere. This provided the opportunity for the first Methodist sermon to be preached in her village. Sarah, despite her age, was at the forefront of the work, distributing tracts and visiting the poor. She was also quickly appointed class leader. In 1825, she visited London for a stay of several months and worshipped at Hinde Street Chapel where she was introduced to surviving members of the Wesley family. Upon her return to Shropshire, Sarah continued her work at Alscott. In December 1826, her father died and a few weeks later her brother Charles fell ill and also passed away. Sarah was occupied in supporting her mother and her own health began to suffer. She died on January 27th 1827 at the age of eighteen. Her brother John died two months later and her sister Jane and brother William also fell ill and did not long survive the other members of her family. Of the Jenkins children who died during this three month period, all except John were teenagers or younger. The secondary sources do not reveal the cause of death, although an epidemic of some kind would seem likely. Source: Memoirs of Sarah Jenkins by Mary Tooth (London, Methodist Book Room, 1829)
  • Samuel Lear (1785-1832) joined the Methodist society at the age of 17 and entered the itinerancy in 1808. He exercised his circuit ministry in the Midlands and North of England and died following an apoplectic fit in June 1832 after a long period of declining health. Source: Hill’s Arrangement 1827 and Minutes of Conference 1832
  • William Pemberton (1806-1851) was born in Leeds, Yorkshire. He was converted at the age of 12 and entered the itinerancy in 1826. He exercised his circuit ministry in the Midlands, the North of England and the Isle of Man until his death, which occurred, while he was stationed in the Newcastle upon Tyne circuit. Pemberton’s conference obituary refers to his staunch fidelity to Methodist discipline in the face of opposition. This indicates that he was involved in the various controversies and divisions that afflicted Methodism in the second quarter of the 19th century. Source: Hill’s Arrangement 1847and Minutes of Conference 1851
  • Thomas Hartley (c.1709-1784) was born in London, the son of a bookseller. He was educated at Kendal School and St John's College Cambridge, graduating in 1728. In 1737 he was appointed to a curacy in Middlesex and in 1744 became Vicar of Winwick in Northamptonshire. Hartley kept the living for the rest of his life, but does not appear to have been resident after 1770. Hartley was an evangelical sympathiser and was acquainted with the writer James Hervey. However, he also displayed mystical tendencies which became more pronounced over time. He published on mystical and millenarian themes from 1754 and in 1769 started to correspond with the Swedish mystic Emanuel Swedenborg. He visited Swedenborg in London in 1770 and that same year published an English translation of Swedenborg's De Commercio Animae et Corporis (1769). This was the first of several publications that Hartley produced, which were influenced by his relationship with Swedenborg. In 1772, Hartley moved to East Malling in Kent where he died on 10 December 1784. Source: Dictionary of National Biography and Dictionary of Evangelical Biography, edited by Donald Lewis (1995)