Letter

Scope and Content

From White Friar’s street in Dublin to Mary Fletcher. Spiritual matters are discussed in detail.

On June 7th [Edward] Smyth and his wife left Dublin for England and on the same day, Ritchie moved to stay with [Hester Ann] Rogers. It is a mile from her previous lodging with the Smyths to this place. All the classes meet here so that while the quality of the air was much better in Granby Row, this close proximity to the ‘means’ suits Ritchie better. It has also worked out for the better in another respect – just at the time she arrived, [Hester Ann] Rogers fell ill and was unable to meet her three classes. [James] Rogers therefore asked Ritchie to take over their leadership – two meet after the prayer meetings established by [John Fletcher]. [John and Mary Fletcher had visited Dublin in 1783] ‘These with twelve other women’s classes which Mr Rogers wishes to meet in rotation makes it a great deal more convenient to be here.’ If the Smyths had still been in Granby Row she would have been loath to leave as they were so kind and hospitable. Ritchie sees the Lord’s doings – ‘He keeps my own soul as a well-watered garden and gives me to see and hear of his gracious dealings with others in such a mAnnr as fills my heart with grateful praise.’ [‘The [Dublin] Society was cheered with the presence and blessed with the labours of the devoted Miss Ritchie…While in the city she was actively employed in Christian work, from which others as well as herself appear to have derived much benefit…After a visit of three months she left’ (Crookshank, History of Methodism in Ireland, volume 1, 410.)] Within the last two years the Dublin society has increased from 500 members to more than 900. The work is in general very much deeper than when Fletcher was in Dublin. Several date the start of their conversion to that visit by the Fletchers.

Mr [Brian Bury?] Collins cannot come until August so [Edward] Smyth was obliged to open the new chapel himself. The Lord helped him – many of our people were there, As yet all is quiet. Those of our people that go, let those alone that do not choose to go…I greatly fear the loving union we wished for will not take place. Mr Smyth invited Dr [Thomas] Coke to preach there last Sunday, but he declined it, and our preachers, [class] leaders and stewards seem in the general determined to have no intercourse with that chapel, but to be very quiet and leave everyone to themselves.’

For many reasons Ritchie is considering returning to England next month despite the invitation from the Smyths to spend the winter with them. James and [Hester Ann] Rogers have also invited her to spend the winter there also ‘but absolutely refuse to let me be in Granby Row’. [There is a suggestion here that Ritchie felt uncomfortable with the tension that was starting to build between the Anglican minister Edward Smyth and the Methodists. ] She is considering crossing to Park Gate with two friends who are to travel to England next month.

The books have arrived – 700 charged at six pence each. Ritchie is surprised considering the apparent demand for them before they arrived that they are not selling more rapidly. [James] Rogers does not think that more than 200 will be sold outside Dublin as the people are very poor. What shall they do with the copies that remain? Rogers would keep some in expectation of future sales, but he has received a proposal from [John] Wesley for printing a life [of John Fletcher]. Rogers has not mentioned that yet to the people here and will not ‘until the blessed letter you have been enabled to write has been a little more circulated.’

Ritchie was very grateful for Fletcher’s letter about Brother [George] Clark. She has heard that he is better. Ritchie supposes that Mrs Smyth will let Fletcher know of the circumstances attendant on the terrible end of Mr [George Robert] Fitzgerald. ‘General Hervey it seems has ventured to do what none of Lady Mary [Fitzgerald’s] Christian friends have done, namely, told her that he died in prison previous to his trial. She bore it like a Christian…’

Ritchie has been very busy - Conference is meeting this week [The Irish Methodist Conference met on 7th July 1786.] and [Hester Ann] Rogers gave birth at ten on Sunday the 2nd after a very difficult pregnancy.

Notes

  • George Clark (1711-97) was converted at the age of thirty-five after hearing John Wesley preach at the Foundry. He was appointed a class leader with such success that he had to form two additional classes. Clark was a close friend and correspondent of John Wesley and frequently provided hospitality for visiting preachers. When City Road Chapel was erected, Clark took a plot of adjacent land and built a house, which after his death was lived in by one of the City Road ministers. Clark and his wife Adylena are interred near the east wall of City Road Chapel close to the altar. His wife Adylena (1727-1807) was a great favourite of John Wesley and enjoyed a considerable reputation for piety. Source: George John Stevenson, City Road Chapel, London, and its Associations, Historical, Biographical, and Memorial (1872), pp.506-507.
  • Lady Mary Fitzgerald (1725-1815) was the daughter of John, Lord Hervey and a grandaughter of the Earl of Bristol. As a young woman she had served as Lady of the Bedchamber to Princess Amelia Sophia. Her family circumstances appear to have been extremely unhappy; Three of her brothers inherited the Earldom of Bristol and were characterised by scandalous behaviour. One, Frederick was a particularly notorious Bishop of Derry for thirty years. In 1745 she married George Fitzgerald of Turlough. The marriage was unhappy and the couple separated. Her oldest son George Robert Fitzgerald was known as "Fighting Fitzerald" and enjoyed a considerable reputation for violent behaviour and general recklessness. He was convicted of an assault against his own father and was ultimately executed for shooting his coachman. Fitzgerald joined the Methodists and was a close friend of John and Mary Fletcher. Her character was described as 'marked by great meekness and humility, joined with a quiet firmness which enabled her to abide faithfully by the principles she once embraced'. At the age of ninety, she was burned to death when her clothes caught fire accidentally. She was buried in City Road Chapel, London. Source: Eminent Methodist Women by Annie E. Keeling (London 1893), 83-92

Note

Notes

  • George Clark (1711-97) was converted at the age of thirty-five after hearing John Wesley preach at the Foundry. He was appointed a class leader with such success that he had to form two additional classes. Clark was a close friend and correspondent of John Wesley and frequently provided hospitality for visiting preachers. When City Road Chapel was erected, Clark took a plot of adjacent land and built a house, which after his death was lived in by one of the City Road ministers. Clark and his wife Adylena are interred near the east wall of City Road Chapel close to the altar. His wife Adylena (1727-1807) was a great favourite of John Wesley and enjoyed a considerable reputation for piety. Source: George John Stevenson, City Road Chapel, London, and its Associations, Historical, Biographical, and Memorial (1872), pp.506-507.
  • Lady Mary Fitzgerald (1725-1815) was the daughter of John, Lord Hervey and a grandaughter of the Earl of Bristol. As a young woman she had served as Lady of the Bedchamber to Princess Amelia Sophia. Her family circumstances appear to have been extremely unhappy; Three of her brothers inherited the Earldom of Bristol and were characterised by scandalous behaviour. One, Frederick was a particularly notorious Bishop of Derry for thirty years. In 1745 she married George Fitzgerald of Turlough. The marriage was unhappy and the couple separated. Her oldest son George Robert Fitzgerald was known as "Fighting Fitzerald" and enjoyed a considerable reputation for violent behaviour and general recklessness. He was convicted of an assault against his own father and was ultimately executed for shooting his coachman. Fitzgerald joined the Methodists and was a close friend of John and Mary Fletcher. Her character was described as 'marked by great meekness and humility, joined with a quiet firmness which enabled her to abide faithfully by the principles she once embraced'. At the age of ninety, she was burned to death when her clothes caught fire accidentally. She was buried in City Road Chapel, London. Source: Eminent Methodist Women by Annie E. Keeling (London 1893), 83-92