- William Grimshaw (1708-63) was one of the best known of the Anglican evangelicals. A graduate of Cambridge, he was ordained in 1732 but was only fully converted seven years later by his reading of devotional works. He was very well regarded by the Wesleys despite his Calvinist leanings and was named as the person who would take charge of Northern Methodism in the event of John Wesley's death. Source: Encyclopedia of World Methodism (1974), and Dr Frank Baker, William Grimshaw (1963).
- Thomas Colbeck (1723-79) was an influential Yorkshire Methodist. A grocer by trade, he devoted his spare time to helping establish Methodism in the Yorkshire/Lancashire border area. He was steward of the important Haworth Circuit for almost thirty years and was a close friend of the famous Evangelical clergyman William Grimshaw. Source: Encyclopedia of World Methodism (1974).
- William Darney (d.1774) was a Scottish shoemaker and peddlar, who began preaching in the West Riding of Yorkshire in 1742. He operated independently of the Methodists and founded several societies in East Lancashire and West Yorkshire. In 1745 he came into contact with the clergyman William Grimshaw of Haworth and contributed to the conversion of Grimshaw to an evangelical outlook. In 1747 Darney placed his societies under the pastoral supervision of John Wesley and was accepted as an itinerant by the Conference of 1748. Darney was of an independent disposition and this impaired his relations with the Wesleys. His fervent Calvinist beliefs and intermittent refusal to submit to Connexional discipline was the cause of repeated reprimands. In 1769 he left the itinerancy but continued to preach in the Rossendale area until his death in December 1774. Darney wrote hymns and published a number of theological works. Source: Encyclopedia of World Methodism (1974) and J. W. Laycock, Methodist Heroes in the Great Haworth Round 1734- 1784 (1909), pp.39-44, 53-59, 228-234.
From William Grimshaw in Haworth, Yorkshire, to Charles Wesley at the Foundery in London. He was just sitting down to write a letter to be delivered to Wesley by [Thomas] Colbeck who leaves for London tomorrow, when Wesley's own letter arrived. It was almost as if God had intervened, for Grimshaw normally has very little to write about and now Wesley himself has furnished Grimshaw with his subject matter - 'THE PREACHERS AND PREACHING:HOUSES [chapels] ARE MOSTLY LICENSED you say - the evil that will follow upon this may perhaps be worse than any thing that you or your brother could have any cause to apprehend FROM POOR WM DARNEY - all I desired was only a years probation of him and then as his behaviour should deserve to be accepted by us or rejected - w'ever J- N-l-n [John Nelson], for him I suppose you meant wrote to you, I am very well assured that the people in Birstal Circuit were much blessed under his [Darney] preaching...'
Leaving the matter of William Darney aside, this matter of the licensing of preachers and chapels is something that he never expected to hear of among the Methodists. If he had suspected that this would happen, he supposes that he would never have entered into connection with them. However he is in connection and wishes to remain so. The question is how can he do it, given his position within the Church of England? Since the last Conference, when as Wesley knows there was some encouragement given to the preachers to become licensed, many of the Methodist itinerants in this part of the country obtained preaching licenses from the Quarter Sessions and several of the chapels and other houses are also now licensed - 'to be sure the METHODISTS ARE NO LONGER MEMBERS OF THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND'. They are as much dissenters as the Baptists and the Quakers. Grimshaw complained about this all of last winter to the brethren - [Thomas] Colbeck can tell Wesley about it. How can Grimshaw justify before an [Anglican] Provincial or Consistory Court his preaching in a Meeting House or his association with a body of dissenting ministers? Is he not running the risk of suspension? About twelve years since, Archbishop Hutton of York among other arguments to stop Grimshaw from preaching 'abroad' used this one, that Grimshaw had preached in a licensed Meeting House namely the 'Buggard House' [Old Boggart House Chapel] in Leeds and that if the Archbishop could have proved it (he had been unable to upon enquiry), he would probably have suspended him. Grimshaw promised his Grace that although he was still determined to 'preach abroad' he would never preach in a licensed Meeting House. Not many months ago, it was reported that Grimshaw was due to preach at a fixed time at a licensed Meeting House, the minister and churchwardens of the parish decided that they would 'present' him if he did so. As it happened, Grimshaw preached in a barn close by so the matter was dropped. It is true that he has on occasion preached in a licensed building when he had been unaware of it 'or thought no notice would be taken'. But at this rate all the nation will soon be disturbed at the direction that Methodism is taking. No doubt the Anglican courts will soon take action and perhaps other [government] bodies too as soon as the war [with France] is over. 'I little thought that your brother approved or connived at these things, especially at the preachers' doings at Norwich' [Sacramental dispute]. If this is the case then it is time for Grimshaw to look after himself and disown all connection with the Methodists. He will have to stay at home and do whatever good he can in his own parish or preach in such places that are unlicensed. 'I hereby therefore assure you yt I disown all further connection with the Methodists - I'll quietly secede without noise or tumult'. He will not stand in the way of anyone who wishes to continue their association with the Methodists. He has other reasons for leaving, but he will not mention them now.
In general as to the licensing of preachers and chapels, he knows of no way to prevent it. Things have gone too far. It has been a situation which has crept up on them ever since the erection of preaching houses was first encouraged. If the Wesleys can stem the tide by using the influence they have over some of the preachers, it will only be for their lifetimes. As soon as the Wesleys die, all the preachers will do what some of them have already done. Even while the Wesleys live, the licensed preachers are causing problems - 'even upon their 6 penny license they'll dare to administer the sacraments, whereas then they will qualify themselves farther for it by obtaining Presbyterian Ordination - Dissenters the Methodists will all shortly be, it cannot, I'm fully satisfied be prevented. - Nor is this spirit merely in the preachers, it is in the people also - there are so many inconveniences attend the people, that in most places they all plead strenuously for a settled ministry - they cannot they say in conscience receive the sacraments as administered in our [Anglican] Church. They cannot attend preaching at 8, 12 and 4 o'clock on Lord's Days and go to Church etc...' As for Grimshaw although he does not approve of everything in the Anglican liturgy, yet there is nothing which would justify his separation for conscience sake. He believes the Church of England 'to be the soundest, purest and most Apostolical, well constituted National Christian Church in the world. Therefore I can in good conscience...live and die in her. But my conscience is not another man's. I believe the Methodists (preachers and members) have so much to say for their separation from our Church; as will not easily in a Conference or otherwise be obviated'.
The doctrine of perfection is very prominent just now in this part of the country. He is told that in the area around Otley and Leeds no fewer than thirty people claim to possess sinless perfection. 'My perfection is to see my own imperfection...'
In a postscript he promises to circulate as many copies as possible of [John Wesley's] Reasons against Separation. Wesley should send him a hundred copies. [ Annotated by Charles Wesley - 'Faithful Mr Grimshaw against separation...'] #pu J. W. Laycock, Methodist Heroes in the Great Haworth Round 1734-1784 (1909), pp.208-210