From [London - established by the reference to William Thompson who was stationed in London at this time.] to Mary Fletcher in Madeley. Fletcher’s letter enclosing the other half of the £20 note has arrived ‘and I was in hopes to have sent [Fletcher] the transfer by Lady Mary [Fitzgerald] but it has not yet arrived from Bristol.’ Ritchie will do all that she can to conform with Fletcher’s wishes concerning the £5 but thinks that she had better leave the full three and a half guineas for Betty Swain in Mrs Jones’ hands as it will save Fletcher any further trouble over the matter.
Ritchie was pleased to hear of dear Sally [Lawrance’s] zeal for God’s glory. ‘May she see abundant fruit and feel that full baptism of the Holy Ghost in her soul which will loose every bond and let her into all the privileges of the Gospel.’
She talked last night with a ‘Christian Brother’ from Bolton in Lancashire. He told her that last Monday night in Bolton the people returned into the chapel after the preaching was over to pray with a poor broken-hearted sinner who the Lord then ‘set at liberty.’ A flame has now broken out there that they hope will spread. The meeting did not conclude until ten at night. He also says that at a recent prayer meeting in Wakefield it is estimated that one hundred people found the Lord.
‘These are times of a particular visitation and encourages one’s hope for a guilty land. Even from this place I can send you some proof our Lord still conveys life through the power of his word. Mr [William] Thompson informed us last Sunday that at a place lately taken for preaching in a very poor part of the town several persons had been awakened. One of them was a poor man from near Bradford in Yorkshire: the first time he went to preaching, the Lord met him and he was cut to the heart. He went home and wrote a penitential letter to his wife who he had left behind acknowledging his faults against God and man etc etc. The poor woman in Yorkshire had gone to preaching the same day and (Mr Thompson added by what he could learn) the very same hour: the Lord powerfully affected her heart. She came home, sat down and wrote a letter to her husband quite similar to his to her. The letters passed each other on the road and both reached the parties the same day. The effect was, the woman came to town and Mr Thompson in visiting the classes last week, met and found them both rejoicing in God.’
As Fletcher observes, there is much need of prayer respecting the Conference. In a recent letter, Mrs Pine mentioned that there were hopes that the desolated society [in Bristol] begins to revive. ‘These mad men have overshot their mark, but their brethren will scourge them.” Pine did not give any particulars so Ritchie does not know to what she is alluding.
Spiritual matters are discussed with regard to Ritchie’s own spiritual state.
The British people have reason to be thankful that their enemies abroad have suffered a terrible shock – hopefully it will hasten peace. [Reference to the British naval victory over the French known as the ‘Glorious First of June.’]
Lady Mary [Fitzgerald] will inform Fletcher of a revival that is taking place in Wales, presumably among the Calvinist brethren.
In a postscript, Ritchie mentions that she is sending with Lady Mary, ‘a book of Mr [David] Simpson’ which she hopes will be of value. [Possibly a reference to the most recently published of Simpson’s books - An essay on the authenticity of the New Testament: : designed as an answer… ( Macclesfield : printed and sold by Edward Bayley; sold also by Dilly, London, 1793)]
She hopes to see Mr [Josiah] Dornford tomorrow and pass him Fletcher’s guinea. [Peard and Elizabeth] Dickinson send their love.
- William Thompson (1733-99) was born at Newtownbutler in Ireland. He was converted in early life and entered the Wesleyan itinerancy in 1757. During his early ministry in Dublin, he endured persecution including imprisonment and the impressment of several of his hearers into the Royal Navy. Much of his subsequent ministry was spent in Scotland and Northern England. Thompson's knowledge of church government and his contribution to the Halifax Circular of 1791 probably secured his election as the first president of Conference after John Wesley's death. Thompson was closely involved with the sacramental controversy of the early 1790s and played a leading role in the drafting of the Plan of Pacification of 1795. After his presidential year, he served as Chairman of the Birmingham District where he died. Source: Encyclopedia of World Methodism (1974) and Dictionary of Evangelical Biography, edited by Donald Lewis (1995)
- David Simpson (1745-99) was born near Northallerton in Yorkshire, the son of a farm bailiff. He was educated at St John's College Cambridge and was ordained deacon in 1769 and priest in 1771. After two curacies in the south of England he was appointed to St Michael's Church in Macclesfield, Cheshire. Simpson's style of preaching earned him the title of Methodist, and after meeting opposition he was deprived of his curacy in 1779. Through the influence of the wealthy evangelical sympathiser Charles Roe, Simpson was then appointed Vicar of Christ Church Macclesfield where he remained for the rest of his life. Simpson was a staunch supporter of Methodism. John Wesley often preached at Christ Church and Simpson attended the Conference of 1784. In addition to his ministerial duties he also ran an evening charity school which was succeeded by a Sunday School in 1796. Simpson's published works include hymnbooks, doctrinal works and spiritual biographies. Source: Alumni Cantabrigienses compiled by J. A. Venn (1940), Dictionary of National Biography and Encyclopedia of World Methodism (1974)