From Kirkstall. Forge near Leeds to Madeley. Crosby refers to the special regard and affection which links her and Fletcher despite the great distance now existing between them. Long gaps between letters gives her Leeds friends much pain.
Her purpose had been to write as soon as she got to the Forge, which she thought would have been more than two months ago. The Lord has however other work for her to do first, so that she is taking the first 'composed opportunity' of writing to Fletcher.
Crosby has been much employed in recent months with visiting the sick and dying, so that she gets little time for writing. 'I just wrote the Lord's dealings with a young person, whom he has taken triumphantly to glory'. She was 'awakened' about a fortnight before she died. Even though Crosby has been 'afflicted' [sick] all the last winter, God enabled her to sit up with the girl three nights in one week. [John] Pawson preached her funeral sermon and read Crosby's account of her conversion one week night to a Leeds Preaching House crowded with people - 'it was thot [thought] that most of the gay young people were present…I never knew so many tears shed in that house before, at one time'.
She shall try to copy the account and send it to Fletcher.
Poor Molly [Mary] Carr has also died, 'I trust SAFELY; but she had NO JOYS'. Crosby spent a good deal of time with her on her deathbed.
A gentle woman also named Carr has also died. She was 'awakened' shortly before she died and all her prejudices against the Methodists were removed. Crosby gives a detailed account of her conversion and final hours.
God's work is prospering here. Many people are 'much stirred' and they have large congregations with powerful preaching. [John] Pawson and [John] Peacock ll 'are much blest thro all circuit'.
'When the Revd. Mr Collings [Brian Bury Collins?] was here, a woman came in good time to hear him, as soon as she sat down, slipt off her seat & never spoke or breathed more! just before. the preaching begun…' Mrs [Dorothy] Downs has been very ill recently and it was thought that she might die. She has however been a little better in recent weeks.
Crosby has lately been overcome with fatigue but hopes to get better again with rest, which she cannot get in Leeds. [Elizabeth] Beecroft is being very kind.
The account which Fletcher gave in her last kind letter evoked sympathy on her behalf. Spiritual matters are discussed in detail.
Miss M. gave Crosby a copy of Fletcher's account of the new Preaching House in Madeley. Crosby read it in front of a meeting of Fletcher's old friends held in Abraham Dickenson's dining room. Spiritual matters are discussed.
[Fletcher's brother William] Bosanquet sent [Anne] Tripp a £10 note for [Sister] Taylor. They hear that she is going to London to join her husband [Richard? Taylor], which her friends think is a pity. Her reasons are unclear but it is feared that he will simply spend her money. It is however her choice.
They have heard of Betty Swain's sufferings and she has asked via Mr Hind-marsh that they sell the things which Fletcher gave her - the bed and bedding she sent several years ago to London and some other items have been spoiled in storage. Her friends had the items valued and then took them themselves, despite the fact that they do not really have a use for them, at the most expensive valuation given. They sent her the money together with an extra guinea. They also hear however 'that she does very well'.
Mrs Westerman was very thankful to hear that they had contacted Fletcher about her. She has fully recovered her mind but is weaker in the body than formerly, as everyone is! She sends her love. 'My dear friend' [Westerman?] is often very sick. Her lumps increase although slowly. She sometimes has pain and her left side is weaker than the other. She is often very tired. Spiritual matters are discussed in detail.
They were sorry to hear that Sally [Sarah Lawrance] has not been well.
They were grateful for news of Fletcher's [Swiss] nephew. May God make him like his dear uncle [John Fletcher]. They were also thankful to hear of the 'interview' [meeting] with Fletcher's brothers [William and Samuel]. Blessed be to God that her burden of debt has been removed.
Polly Woodhouse has got married to a good young man, a preacher named George Holder.
Crosby has been prevented from visiting Whitby this Summer because of commitments in Leeds. The Conference is to be in Leeds next Summer so she will not be leaving the town then either. It is to be hoped that they will then see Fletcher and entertain her and Sally at their house.
- 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)
- John Pawson (1737-1806) was born at Thorner in Yorkshire, the son of a prosperous tradesman. He received a good education and trained as a builder. Pawson was converted under Methodist influence in 1760 and became a class leader and local preacher before entering the itinerancy in 1762. Pawson served mainly in the North and acquired a reputation as a dynamic preacher and gifted administrator. In 1785 he was ordained for the work in Scotland and emerged after Wesley's death as a voice for moderation and the gradual progression of Methodism as a separate Church. He twice served as President of Conference. Source: Encyclopedia of World Methodism (1974) and Dictionary of Evangelical Biography, edited by Donald Lewis (1995)
- John Peacock (d.1803) entered the itinerancy in 1767 and, with the exception of one year (1769), exercised an active circuit ministry in Lincolnshire and the North of England until ill health forced him to superannuate in 1796. He died at Bridlington in Yorkshire after a painful illness. Source: Minutes of Conference 1803 and An Alphabetical Arrangement of Wesleyan Methodist Preachers ..1739-1818, compiled by Kenneth Garlick
- Abraham Dickenson (1744-1804) was born at Bramley near Leeds, Yorkshire. He was raised in the Church of England but at the age of fourteen was apprenticed to a family of dissenters, whose religious practices began to exert an influence. In 1762 he was converted after attending Methodist preaching. After finishing his apprenticeship (trade unknown), Dickenson was employed by his mother as a journeyman. For several years, in response to an appeal by John Wesley, he contributed five pence a week out of his annual wages of 14.17.6, for the purpose of paying off the debt on Methodist chapels. He subsequently started his own business, married Eleanor Thornton and raised a large family. Dickenson was a devout Methodist until the end of his life, serving as a class leader and chapel trustee in the Leeds Society. He was also a member of the circle which included Sarah Crosby and Mary Bosanquet-Fletcher. Source: Arminian Magazine 1805, pp.101-106
- Dorothy Downs (1730-1807) was born at West Ham, now part of London, the daughter of John Furley, a merchant trading with Holland and Turkey. Religious from a very early age, she moved to London after the death of her parents and attended on the ministry of the evangelical William Romaine. She was befriended by the Countess of Huntingdon and introduced to the Wesleys, with whom she corresponded, and to Mary Bosanquet. From then on, her loyalties were with the Methodists. She moved to Bristol and in 1764 married the preacher Mr Downs. After Downs's death in 1774, while preaching from the pulpit of London's West Street Chapel, she moved to Leeds. During the final twenty years of her life she suffered from severe ill health, which she bore with a remarkable saintliness of character. Source: Methodist Magazine 1813, pp.217-222
- George Holder (1751-1836) was converted at Robin's Hood Bay in Yorkshire, during a visit by John Wesley. He entered the itinerancy in 1782 and exercised an active circuit ministry in the North of England and the Isle of Man until 1818 when he superannuated due to old age. He retired to Whitby. Source: Minutes of Conference 1837 and Hill's Arrangement 1827