From John Mayor in Shawbury to [Mary Fletcher]. According to his promise, he is enclosing for Fletcher’s perusal the memoir of Mr [David] Brainerd. He has also enclosed two pamphlets by Mr [Thomas] Robinson, author of the Scripture Characters and other small tracts. There are also a few others by Mayor’s dear friend [Thomas] Scott who has written a bible commentary. One of these has a title which may startle Fletcher at first sight but ‘as it represents the tenets of such as your people [Methodists and evangelical Anglicans of the Arminian persuasion] out of compliment (I mean candour) call inconsistent Calvinists, I thought you might like to peruse it. All the Calvinists I plead for, you have granted, namely, that we are justified by the righteousness of Christ imparted to us by faith & that the first touch in turning unto the Lord is from God. I do abhor disputes about words & small matters, & prize peace more than fine spun notions which gender strifes rather than godly edifying. Scott’s other pamphlet will give no offence even it its title.’
Mayor was very grateful for the Fletchers’ Christian love and kindness displayed to him when he visited Madeley. His regards should be passed to some of their kind neighbours, particularly Mr and Mrs Yate. He has enclosed Religious Affections for Mrs Yate to read. It is an excellent work ‘to discover wherein true religion does indeed consist. There are some words in it that may stumble weak people but I cannot think the substance of the book objectionable to solid Xns. You are not Arminians, or if you will call yourselves so, I must add the word inconsistent in it, & then for ought I can see, inconsistent Calvinists & inconsistent Arminians means the same.’
He has just heard that Mrs Jane Hill [Possibly the sister-in-law of Sir Richard Hill. It could also be Sir Richard’s mother Jane Hill, but the omission of the title Lady Hill indicates that this was not the case. ] is at Wells and that ‘the last accounts are not flattering. If you wd do me the favor of letting [Sir Richard] Hill know this with my respects & that he may expect to hear further soon from Hawkstone [Hill family estate in Shropshire. ] it wd oblige me, having no time to write, the man waiting for this.’
- John Mayor (c.1755-1826) was born in Dolgellau, County Merioneth, Wales. He was educated at Worcester College Oxford and graduated BA in 1778. He was ordained a deacon in the Church of England the same year. In 1781 Mayor was presented by the prominent Calvinist Sir Richard Hill to the curacy of Shawbury in Shropshire. Despite theological differences he maintained friendly relations with John and Mary Fletcher. In 1800 he was invited onto the committee of the Church Missionary Society. His son Robert went on to become one of the earliest CMS missionaries in Ceylon. Source: Dictionary of Evangelical Biography, edited by Donald Lewis (1995) and Fletcher-Tooth collection (MARC).
- David Brainerd (1718-1747) was born in Haddam, Connecticut, British North America. His father died when Brainerd was eight years old and his mother when he was fourteen, causing the boy to deep reflection on religion. In 1739 Brainerd entered Yale to prepare for the ministry and in that same year came under evangelical influence. He was expelled in his third year for criticizing one of his lecturers as a man with no more grace than a chair. In 1742 Brainerd started work among the Mohican Indians as a missionary for the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge. During the next few years, he moved regularly from one location to another, but with no great success. He was affected for much of the time with poor mental and physical health and died of tuberculosis in Northampton, Massachusetts. At the time of his death Brainerd was engaged to the daughter of the famous evangelist Jonathan Edwards. His prospective father-in-law published Brainerd’s journal after the young man’s death and it achieved the status of a minor devotional classic. Source: Dictionary of Evangelical Biography, edited by Donald Lewis (1995)
- Thomas Robinson (1749-1813) was the son of a hosier of Wakefield, Yorkshire. After a short time in business, Robinson entered Trinity College Cambridge in 1768 and was elected fellow three years later. He experienced an evangelical conversion in his second year at college and in 1771 became Curate at Witcham and Witchford in the Isle of Ely. After three years he moved to Leicester and in 1778 was appointed Vicar of Leicester St Mary’s. He also held the positions of chaplain of the infirmary, the Leicester Volunteer Infantry and Leicester Gaol. Robinson’s ministry was very much in the evangelical tradition. He established a benevolent society and a Sunday School and served as chairman of the local auxiliary of the British and Foreign Bible Society. He also published a series of tracts on the nature of God. His theological position was that of a moderate Calvinist. Source: Dictionary of Evangelical Biography, edited by Donald Lewis (1995)
- Thomas Scott (1747-1821) was born at Braytoft in Lincolnshire, the son of a grazier. He was educated at several private schools until 1762 when he was apprenticed to a surgeon. He was soon dismissed for bad conduct and spent several years working as a labourer for his father. In 1772 Scott traveled to London to seek ordination as an Anglican minister. Scott became a curate in Buckinghamshire and in December 1784 married Jane Kell, housekeeper to a local family. From 1775 to 1786 Scott served as curate of Ravenstone in Buckinghamshire but was resident in Weston Underwood from 1777 where he preached several times a week. In 1779 he published his autobiography and in 1781 succeeded his friend the famous hymnwriter John Newton as curate of Olney. At about this time, Scott began an extensive local itinerant ministry. Scott was unpopular in Olney and in 1785 he accepted a joint chaplaincy at the Lock Hospital in London. The move was not a success – he did not get on with his colleague and the hospital governors were not impressed with his style of preaching which appears to have been extremely moralistic and tactless. He also served as lecturer at St Mildred’s in Bread Street and the preacher at St Margaret’s. He remained at the Lock Hospital despite the difficult circumstances and became the sole chaplain in 1802. Scott left the following year to become the Vicar of Aston Sandford in Buckinghamshire. During his time in London he was the first secretary of the Church Missionary Society and coached some of the early missionaries in Latin, Greek and Hebrew. Scott published extensively on theology. His major work was a Bible commentary in 174 weekly numbers. Despite its influence, the commentary caused its author considerable financial difficulties which added to the poor health that afflicted his later years. Source: Dictionary of Evangelical Biography, edited by Donald Lewis (1995).
- Sir Richard Hill (1732-1808) was born in Hawkstone, Shropshire, the eldest son of a wealthy Shropshire baronet and brother of the famous clergyman Rowland Hill. He was educated at Westminster School and Oxford University and traveled widely in Europe as a young man. In 1757 he was prominent in his support of George Whitefield and the Calvinistic Methodists, and in 1768 attacked his old university for expelling six undergraduates for converting to Methodism. In the early 1770s he played a major part in the disputes between the Calvinistic Methodists and the Arminians. He was elected to Parliament in 1780 and gained a reputation as a formidable speaker. Hill was a staunch supporter of evangelicalism throughout his life. Source: Dictionary of National Biography and Dictionary of Evangelical Biography, edited by Donald Lewis (1995)