Letter

Scope and Content

From Mary Whittingham in Potten vicarage to Mary Fletcher in Madeley. She is concerned that she has not corresponded with Fletcher for such a long time. She hopes that Fletcher has not suffered during this winter. Here, they have had unusual floods, which have brought on attacks of the 'agues' [malarial fever]. Her children Eliza and Emma have been very ill, but have recovered.

Since arriving in Potten, Whittingham's time has been taken up in the Lord's service. She has been regular in her attendance on the young people on Saturday afternoons. Last week, she had 36 girls and they enjoy coming. She thinks that 7 or 8 'are under divine impressions. One, who was persuaded to come by another of the girls is also, I hope, very serious. I feel some hope that she is a seal to my weak endeavours. She, with many others, are now in the church where Mr W[hittingham] is instructing them for confirmation ... Last Sunday a farmer in another parish came to ask me to admit 2 or 3 of his daughters.'

Some of the Lord's people here have died recently. 'One dear woman, an old standard, we are sorry to lose here below ... we have a great deal of visiting the sick here. Next July we expect a meeting of ministers to be held at our house, as we had last year. There are many pious friends in the ministry in the circle, who meet monthly at one another's houses. Sunday last, Mr Whittingham by desire of Mr [Samuel] Whitbread etc preached at Bedford a charity sermon for the infirmary. (He preaches there a month every year). The Duke of Bedford was present, Mr Whitbread, Lady Elizabeth W[hitbread], Lady St John, Lady Madalina, the Marquis of Tavistock, a Marchioness etc. The collection was larger than when the bishop preached by above 40 pounds. Lady St John was glad of the collection on many accounts, and it may be a means of more gospel ministers being asked to preach. I went with him, but like our own church much better. His sermon was much approved, though Lady Madalina had said she did not like such preachers, and thought the sermon would fetch no money. She was mistaken. The Duke etc approved, I was told. Lady Elizabeth Whitbread spoke very prettily about the sermon'.

Her best wishes should be passed to Mary Tooth, Mr [Samuel] Walter and all other dear friends at Madeley. Whittingham was very grateful for the account of Mrs Bembow.

A new periodical has been published 'The Church Magazine' or 'Christian Guardian' - produced by 'pious clergy, of our acquaintance, some of them'. Whittingham and her husband have been asked to write for it - 2,600 copies are already in circulation. She has decided to write on the subject of "The Churchyard", which will 'afford abundant matter for meditation and obituary'

Note

Notes

  • Samuel Whitbread (1764-1815) was born at Cardington near Bedford, the son of a wealthy brewer and Member of Parliament. Whitbread was educated at Eton College and St John's College Cambridge. Elected to Parliament in 1790, he quickly became a leading member of the Whig opposition and a passionate advocate of progressive causes, such as the abolition of slavery, parliamentary reform and religious toleration. Whitbread was also an outspoken opponent of the war against France and an admirer of Napoleon Bonaparte, which opinions damaged his political and party standing. Whitbread was a generous supporter of charities and held strong personal religious convictions of an evangelical Anglican stamp. In his final years, Whitbread suffered from depression, declining health and financial difficulties. Shortly after Napoleon was defeated at Waterloo, Whitbread took his own life Source: DNB