From M[ary] Whittingham in Potten to Mary Fletcher in Madeley. Her failure to write for a long time has been caused by the many tribulations with which the family has been affected. The loss of her son, 'a most lovely, sweet-tempered, engaging boy', at the age of two and one half years was the most bitter cup of affliction from which they have had to drink, but thay have been supported 'in a manner I could not have expected; grace has been sufficient for us, and strength was given equal to our day.' Spiritual matters are further discussed. It is Whittingham's great happiness to live among a 'loving, praying people'. During her illness, their prayers were frequently offered on her behalf and the Lord heard and answered.
She rejoiced to see Fletcher's handwriting. 'You are my dear Aunt, just like my late excellent uncle whom I have never yet had the happiness of seeing. You are so disinterested, indeed it appeared to us our duty, as well as pleasure, to endeavour to assist you (though we should have been glad to have had more to send)) but your generosity prevented your acceptance of even the little mite, and you took the will for the deed - I thought long ago to have acknowledged your tenderness in this also.'
Whittingham has thought often in recent weeks about Fletcher on account of the fever which is so prevalent in her neighbourhood. She is concerned for Fletcher as Whittingham's mother informs her that Fletcher constantly attends the sick. She asks for Fletcher's prayers that she may follow her example. She would very much like to see Fletcher, but does not know if that will be possible in this world.
Fletcher has probably heard that [Whittingham's daughter] Marianne has been unwell - indeed, it was feared that she had been struck with the fever, but she is now quite recovered. Her son Sammy seems of late more 'serious' than previously and Whittingham hopes that there is a 'work of Grace begun in his soul'. Her daughter little Eliza is a 'very lively, affectionate little creature'.
The Lord's dealings with them have been remarkable. They have long been on the point of leaving this area, but then another door is opened. Her husband [Richard] 'has always churches to preach in somewhere or other. At present he has the whole cure of the parish of Everton, and the people seem greatly delighted with having him once more among them.' Whittingham sometimes hopes that the Lord will make it possible for them to remain here in Potten for the people are willing to hear the Gospel. Richard sends his respects
- Mary Whittingham (b.1765) was the daughter of Peter Gaussen and his wife Anna-Maria Bosanquet, sister of the noted Methodist evangelist Mary Fletcher. She was married in 1780 to Richard Whittingham who later exercised an evangelical ministry as curate to John Berridge at Everton in Bedfordshire and then as Vicar of Potten in the same county Source: Burke's Landed Gentry 1853 online International Genealogical Index
- Richard Whittingham (1758-1845) came from a landed family resident at Leytonstone in Essex. He was ordained as an Anglican minister in 1782 and served as curate to the evangelical John Berridge at Everton in Bedfordshire. In 1806 he was appointed Vicar of the Bedfordshire parish of Potton and remained there for the rest of his life. His obituary describes Whittingham as 'renowned for his Christian integrity and examplary piety, his urbanity of manners, catholicity of spirit and moderation of opinion ...' Whittingham was an enthusiastic supporter of Bible Societies and other evangelical causes. Despite his advanced age, he preached twice on the Sunday before he died. Whittingham's wife Mary Gaussen was the niece of the noted Methodist evangelist Mary Fletcher and the two often corresponded.Source: Burke's Landed Gentry 1853 and Fletcher-Tooth papers (MARC)