From Bristol [postmark] to Mary Fletcher. ‘I have the happiness to tell you my sister [Mrs Berkin] departed in peace ¼ before one this morning without sigh or groan, in prayer, perfectly sensible, and perfectly resigned. [Mrs Berkin, widow of William Berkin esq., died at Clifton near Bristol on 5 December 1812. She was aged 75. Gentleman’s Magazine 1812 (112), 671.] She had a most blessed death, all her wishes granted, desires fulfilled, her son Henry & his wife Louisa at her dieing pillow and Julia [Grovenor] ministering to her comfort. Mary her eldest daughter, behaving exactly right & behaving with filial affection. All necessary attendants – a woman who loved her and once lived with her as a servant, ready to lay down her life for her sake, sat up with her most nights, very little pain of body.’
Mrs Biddulph wrote to her about six months before she died – ‘Hail Mary! Highly favoured of the Lord, to have a son to preach in the Gosple, in answer to your prayers.’40 Reference is made to Miss Sarah Townsend. Spiritual matters are further discussed.
Berkin’s grand-daughter is comfortably provided for. Of the three grandsons, two are settled’ to advantage’ while the youngest, a fine promising boy called Frederick, has a ‘prospect though he is now with his father.’ Berkin therefore has died the death of the righteous. Fletcher should emphasise to her friends the importance of prayer – Berkin knew its efficiency.
It is pleasing to March to be able to inform Fletcher that the Lord has delivered her from temptation and renewed the covenant of her youth. The three last verses of Psalm 91 ‘was given me before my mother [Jane March] died – it contains a large portion which I am now feeding on…’
Spiritual matters are discussed in detail, with particular reference to March’s spiritual state. ‘I humbly hope Satan is now bruised under my feet. I trust my foot is set upon the Black boy’s head [see MAM/FL 5.2/11]. I forgot to tell you in my dream in my wrestling with the Devil, all his desire & intention was to trip up my heels…my hand in his mouth gave me great advantage until the conflict was over, & in the dream of the Tree of Life, I omitted to say the place where it stood was railed round with white rails, & Mrs Folgham was within the rails…perhaps you may remember Amy Bangor[?] who became Mrs Folgham.
March knows what Fletcher means about Mr L.’s birthday. March had said that Mrs Collinson’s birthday was in May , thirteen months older than March who was born 25 May 1743 in dangerous times. ‘My birthday now is the 5th of June, the day after the King [George III].’ [Possible reference to the day of conversion?] She was once told by Dr [Abraham] Ludlow, years ago, that based on the delicacy of her constitution, that she would not live to see seventy, which she will if she can make it to her next birthday.
She would like to make an agreement with Fletcher that they will write to each other once a year, or oftener if occasion requires. [Mary] Tooth can write on Fletcher’s behalf if she is ill or dies. Tooth’s handwriting is very legible and March can also read Fletcher’s script, although she really must try for spectacles.
When March’s sister [Mrs Berkin] lived in Surrey, she dreamed that she saw and conversed with their mother [Jane March] who told her that she must travel down the same rough and hard road that she did and pointed to a high rock that she must attend.
March does not know if the report concerning Mrs Schimmel is true – it is based on her going to the ‘Romish’ [Roman Catholic] chapel to hear the music and conversing with the priest. ‘This is not the time to turn Papist, I know a person who suspects her head is not right & I have heard there is insanity in the family. Mrs Ewer, her [class] leader does not doubt her real conversion.’
Ewer has been confined to her room for the past thirteen weeks from the bite of a nat near the sea and for the last five weeks she has been in bed with a rheumatic fever. There are no signs of recovery yet.
In a postscript, she mentions that she does not recall all the promises that she made at Spitalfields, [Probable reference to Spitalfields Methodist Chapel in Grey Eagle Street, London, which was acquired by the Methodists in 1750. ] but will write down all those that she can remember.
- Henry Berkin (b.1779), son of William Berkin esq. of Bristol matriculated at St Edmund’s Hall, Oxford in 1804. He graduated M.A. in 1812 and was ordained into the Church of England. Alumni Oxonienses by Joseph Foster (1891).
- Amy Bangor. Possibley Amy, daughter of Timothy and Amy Banger, who was christened on 5 May 1745 at the Anglican Church of St.Alban in Wood St., London. Supporting this identification is the fact that at the same church on 18 January 1767 was christened Amy, daughter of John and Amy Folgham. International Genealogical Index.