From John Radford at the Sheffield Conference to Mary Tooth. This Conference started very well indeed and God’s influence was felt in the various preparatory committees.
The president opened the session by giving out that most appropriate hymn “And are we yet active and see other’s face”. [George] Marsden and [Robert] Smith were then called upon to pray which they did in a most powerful manner. After the preachers had had their seats assigned to them in order of the length of their itinerant ministry, the vacancies in the Legal Hundred were filled. Then the President was chosen - Mr [Richard] Reese and after he had received the seals of office Reese entered upon his responsible duties.
Over the course of three nights, twenty-one young preachers were admitted into full connexion and more than ninety others have candidated. Nine assistant missionaries in foreign lands have also been accepted.
[Robert] Newton is fast recovering his old vigour.
The case of [Samuel] Warren took up a lot of time and aroused considerable attention, together with those of [Robert] Emmett and [John] Averill. The conduct of each of these men deserved expulsion.
The delegates from the “Grand Central Association” met in this town and forwarded an address to the Conference which was met by a ‘spirited reply.’ Radford hopes that this will contribute to give a death-blow to that ‘unhallowed confederacy.’
Radford is pleased to report that the Christian spirit and harmony that prevailed in the early sittings have continued throughout the Conference.
The Madeley circuit had had an additional preacher appointed - a young man by the name of [Jabez] Rought, a son of one of the itinerants.
Radford has heard that Tooth’s customary good health has been interrupted – he trusts that she is feeling better.
During the last twelve months they have admitted on trial and into society in Radford’s circuit of Shepton Mallet no fewer than four hundred people and there is a good possibility that this will continue. He believes that this next year will be a glorious one for the Methodist Connexion. The last year had seen considerable strife in many circuits some of which were ‘of considerable standing and were in flourishing circumstances…’
In a postscript, Radford mentions that last Saturday the preacher Mr [John] Scott met with an accident while returning from the Conference and almost lost his life. Another preacher at the same time had a lucky escape when their coach overturned. Scott broke his ribs and a collarbone but is on his way to recovery.
- Robert Smith (1769-1847) was born in Wolverhampton. He was converted at the age of fifteen and later came under the influence of the Methodist preacher Richard Rodda. Smith entered the itinerancy in 1792 and exercised an active circuit ministry until 1820 when he was appointed governor of Kingswood School, an office which he held until superannuation 1843. He also served for two years as Secretary of Missions. Source: Minutes of Conference 1848 and Hill’s Arrangement 1841
- Richard Reece (1765-1850) was converted at the age of eighteen and entered the itinerancy in 1787. He served as President of the British Conference in 1816 and 1835 and of the Irish Conference in 1817. In 1823 he represented the British Church at the American General Conference in Baltimore. Reece remained in the active ministry until the age of eighty-one when he retired as a supernumary minister to London where he died after a short illness. Source: C. F Crookshank, Methodism in Ireland (1885), volume 2, p.420, Hill's Arrangement 1847 and Methodist Magazine 1850, pp.652,983-984
- Samuel Warren (1781-1862) was born in the Ardwick district of Manchester. He entered the Wesleyan itinerancy in 1802, after spending several years at sea including a period as a French prisoner. Warren exercised an active circuit ministry for over thirty years and was well-respected for his talents. He was also a considerable scholar who received the degrees of MA and DD from the University of Glasgow. In 1834 Warren was suspended for leading agitation against the decision to set up a theological institution. He lost a lawsuit contesting control of Oldham Street Chapel in Manchester and was expelled from the Connexion in 1835. Warren was followed out of Wesleyan Methodism by eight thousand supporters and the Wesleyan Methodist Association was founded. Warren served as the first President but left two years later over a dispute concerning the constitution of the new church. Warren was subsequently ordained into the Anglican ministry and became Vicar of Ancoats in Manchester. Warren's son Samuel junior later achieved distinction as a novelist, lawyer and Member of Parliament. Source: Encyclopedia of World Methodism (1974), Oliver Beckerlegge, United Methodist Ministers and their Circuits 1797-1932 (1968) and Dictionary of Evangelical Biography, edited by Donald Lewis (1995)
- Robert Emmett (b.1789) of Halifax in Yorkshire was probably a son of the layman Robert Emmett (d.1818). He entered the itinerancy in 1811 on the recommendation of the Halifax circuit and exercised a circuit ministry in the North of England until superannuation in 1820. After withdrawal from the active ministry, Emmett settled in Stockton. Emmett was expelled by the Conference of 1835 ‘having been found guilty of sowing a discord among brethren, of promoting strife and contention in our societies, and of resisting the constituted authorities of the Connexion; and having exhibited no sign of a contrition or amendment.’ It is likely that Emmett’s case was connected with that of Samuel Warren and other opponents of the autocratic tendencies of Wesleyan Methodism at this time. The charges laid against Emmett were similar in nature to those leveled by the same Conference against the reformer John Averill. Emmett does not appear to have joined other reformers in founding the break-away Wesleyan Methodist Association as his name does not appear in its list of ministers. With his expulsion, Emmett effectively vanished from the Methodist historical record. Source: Manuscript Journal of the Wesleyan Conference 1835 (MARC), List of Wesleyan Preachers on Trial 1803-1831 (MARC), Hill’s Arrangement 1827 and 1833, Oliver Beckerlegge, United Methodist Ministers and their Circuits 1797-1932 (1968)
- John Averill (b.1807) was recommended for the itinerancy to the 1827 Conference by the Derby circuit having served as a local preacher for two years. In 1835 while stationed in the Camelford circuit, Averill was expelled by the Conference. He had been charged with not only refusing to ‘assist his superintendent in the maintenance of needful discipline, but has formed a serious division in the Camelford circuit – published a plan of preaching in direct opposition to his superintendent, called out assistance, and constituted himself superintendent of the seceding parties, and avowedly associated himself with those who are at this time striving to subvert the essential principles of our system.’ The Averill case was connected with the controversy arising from the opposition of Samuel Warren and other reformers to the autocratic tendencies of Wesleyan Methodism. Averill subsequently joined the ministry of the break-away Wesleyan Methodist Association. He was stationed at Manchester Lever Street in 1837 but withdrew from the Association in 1839 and thereafter disappears from the Methodist historical record. Source: Manuscript Journal of the Wesleyan Conference 1835 (MARC), List of Wesleyan Preachers on Trial 1803-1831 (MARC), Hill’s Arrangement 1833, Oliver Beckerlegge, United Methodist Ministers and their Circuits 1797-1932 (1968)
- Jabez Rought (1813-1889) was a son of the Wesleyan itinerant Thomas Rought. He was born at Kendal in 1813 and as a boy resisted the religious influence of his family. Rought was converted at the age of 19 and entered the Wesleyan ministry in 1835. His first circuit appointment was Madeley and it was largely under Rought’s influence that a great revival broke out there between 1835 and 1837. Among the Madeley converts of that period was the prominent Wesleyan minister George Thomas Perks. Rought exercised an active circuit ministry in England and Wales until 1878 when failing health forced him to superannuate. He retired to Hammersmith in London and then in 1888 moved to Leicester where he died on 6 March 1889. Source: Minutes of Conference 1889 and Hill’s Arrangement 1887
- John Scott (1792-1868) was born at Copmanthorpe near York. He entered the Wesleyan ministry at the age of nineteen and exercised an active ministry for fifty-six years. Scott served as President of Conference in 1843 and 1852. Scott's most significant contribution to Methodism, was in the field of education. As chairman of the Education Committee, he was instrumental in the establishing of the Wesleyan day-school system. He was also active in promoting the building of the Westminster Teacher Training College and served as its principal from 1851 until his death. Source: Minutes of Conference 1868 and Encyclopedia of World Methodism (1974)