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St John's Methodist Church, Park Farm, Allestree

A History of Methodism in Derby and District


JOHN WESLEY AND METHODISM IN DERBY 1703-2003

The exhibition, displayed at St. John's Methodist Church Allestree, Derby, in July 2003, celebrated the birth of John Wesley and went on to highlight his life and the Methodist movement in the City of Derby to the present day.

During the exhibition I was asked by many of the visitors to put the material into book form because they found that it was not possible to absorb the information in the time allowed.

This Internet compilation has been produced in response to those requests. It covers Methodism in Derby to the present day and contains most of the information that was on display covering the three centuries.

  1700's The life and times of John Wesley
  1800's The divisions and growth of Methodism and
  1900's Reunion and consolidation.

The local element is confined mainly to Derby City. However, it includes those churches that are outside of the City but still remain in a Derby circuit and some county related information.

This compilation contains extracts from the following books -

  • 'A charge to Keep' by Frank Baker published by Epworth Press in 1954,
  • 'A History of Free Churches in Derby' by BAM Alger published in 1901,
  • 'Historic Tablets of the New Room' and
  • John Wesley's Journals.

Paul Wright, Alan Tudor and Joan Sidaway made written contributions and along with my photographs it is hoped that the impact of the exhibition has been reasonably reproduced.

THE CHURCH IN 1700

'The established church of the day had lost touch with God, and neglected the task of proclaiming the saving grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Church of England at the beginning of the eighteenth century was like a man lost in the snow, cold and lifeless, and it needed the warmth of Methodism to start the blood circulating again. And it was almost too late! The wanderer was very nearly dead.'

Extract from A charge to Keep by Frank Baker - Epworth Press 1954

John Wesley provided that warmth and the history of this famous man is well covered elsewhere - in particular in the Methodist Church website www.wesley2003.org.uk and the extensive records of the John Rylands Library in Manchester.


It was not until 1741, according to his Journals, that John Wesley visited Derbyshire at Ockbrook.

1741 Wednesday 10 June

Between five and six we came to Ogbrook, where Mr S then was... About eight, Mr Greaves offering me the use of his church, I explained the true Gospel stillness. In the morning, Thursday 11th, to a large congregation, 'By grace are ye saved through faith'.

The following extracts from John Wesley's Journals record his visits to Derbyshire, interspersed with articles and information as the story moves through to John Wesley's last visit in 1790.

1741 Saturday 13 June

We then set out for Melbourn, where finding the house too small to contain those who were come together, I stood under a large tree...

1742 Friday 18 June

After preaching at Ripley, by the way, hastened on to Donnington Park:

1742 Sunday 20 June

I read prayers at Ogbrook, and preached on Acts XVII.23. At six in the evening I preached at Melbourn. There were many hearers; but I see little fruit.

1743 Thursday 23 July

I left Wednesbury, and in the evening preached at Melbourn, in Derbyshire.

1743 Monday 28 November

I rode to Breson and spent an hour or two in conversation with Mr Simpson; the oddest, honestest enthusiast, surely, that ever was upon earth.

1744 Thursday 14 June

And in the evening at Chinley-End, in Derbyshire, on 'Repent ye, and believe the Gospel.'

1744 Friday 15 June

I preached at Chinley at five; about noon in the Peak; and in the evening at Barley Hall.

1745 Sunday 28 April

Thence we rode to Bongs, in Derbyshire, a lone house, on the side of a steep mountain, wither abundance of people were got before us. I preached on Gods' justifying the ungodly; and his word was as dew upon a tender herb. At five I preached at Mill-Town, near Chapel-en-le-Frith. The poor miller, near whose pond we stood, endeavoured to drown my voice, by letting out the water, which fell with great noise. But it was labour lost; for my strength was so increased, that I was heard to the very skirts of the congregation.

1745 Monday 29 April

I preached at Taddington in the Peak

1746 DIVISION INTO CIRCUITS

The 1746 conference divided the Country into circuits - 7 at first: London, Bristol, Cornwall, Evesham, Yorkshire, Newcastle and Wales. As if Yorkshire was not enough on its own an explanatory clause was added to say that Yorkshire included - Cheshire, Lancashire, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Rutlandshire and Lincolnshire!

1747 Tuesday 12 May

I rode to Bongs, and explained to a serious people the parable of the prodigal son. In the evening I exhorted them at Chinley, 'earnestly to contend for the faith once delivered to the saints'.

1747 Wednesday 13 May

I preached at noon in the High-Peak,

1748 Tuesday 30 August

We saw by the way many marks of the late flood; of which John Bennet, who was then upon the place, gave us the following account :- 'On Saturday, the 23rd of July last, there fell for about three hours, in and about Hayfield, in Derbyshire, a very heavy rain, which caused such a flood as had not been seen by any now living in those parts. The rocks were loosened from the mountains: One field was covered with huge stones from side to side. Several water-mills were clean swept away, without leaving any remains. The trees were torn up by the roots, and whirled away like stubble. Two women of loose character were swept away from their own door and drowned. One of them was found near the place; the other was carried seven or eight miles. Hayfield churchyard was all torn up, and dead bodies swept from their graves. When the flood abated, they were found in several places. Some were hanging on trees; other left in meadows or grounds; some partly eaten by dogs, or wanting one or more of their members.'

1748 Wednesday 31 August

At Bongs I received an invitation... So John Bennet and I rode down together... In the evening I preached at Chinley.

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1753 Monday 4 June

I rode from Manchester to Chelmorton in the Peak, where I preached in a little meadow, and reached Sheffield in the evening.

1755 Tuesday 8 April

I had designed to go straight on to Hayfield; but one from Ashbourn pressed me much to call there; which accordingly I did at seven in the morning, and preached to a deeply serious congregation. Seventeen or eighteen then desired to join in a society... Through much hail, rain, and wind, we got to Mr B's at Hayfield, about five in the afternoon. His favourite daughter died some hours before we came; such a child as is scarce heard of in a century... On Monday April 7, without any struggle, she fell asleep, having lived two years and six months.

1755 Thursday 10 April

I rode to Hayfield again, to bury Mr B's child. Abundance of people were gathered together, and I found uncommon liberty in preaching. Who would have looked for such a congregation as this in the Peak of Derbyshire?

1755 Sunday 13 April

I then rode to Hayfield once more, where Mr B read prayers, and preached...

1756 Friday 20 August

I rode to Chelmorton in the peak. Although the people had no previous notice, they supplied the want of it by sending quickly to the neighbouring villages. Between seven and eight the house was pretty well filled; and many of them were extremely thankful.

1756 Saturday 21 August

We set out early; and after spending an hour at Ashbourn, hastened on to Litchfield.

1757 Wednesday 4 May

I rode over to Hayfield, and preached at one in the church, to a congregation gathered from all parts.

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1761 Friday 27 March

I rode to Bridgefield, in the midst of the Derbyshire mountains, and cried to a large congregation, 'If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink.' And they did indeed drink in the word, as the thirsty earth the showers.

1761 Tuesday 28 July

In the afternoon I rode to Matlock Bath. The valley, which reaches from the town to the bath, is pleasant beyond expression. (Wednesday 29th) I preached at five near the Bath;

1761 Sarah Crosby (1729-1804) was born in Leeds, Yorkshire. She inclined toward Calvinism as a young woman but joined the Methodists after hearing Wesley preach. She moved to London in 1757 after her husband deserted her and was appointed a class leader at the Foundery. In 1761 Crosby moved to Derby and became one of the first female preachers in Methodism. With Wesley's encouragement, she travelled extensively on preaching tours between London and Yorkshire for many years before retiring to her birthplace.

1761 Mrs Dobinson (1725-1803) was one of the first Methodists in Derby. Originally resident in London, she is said to have come under religious influence after her marriage in 1753. The final stage in the conversion process was achieved after hearing a sermon by the evangelical minister William Romaine in 1758.

She subsequently attended class meetings at the Foundery and became a close friend of Sarah Crosby. In 1761 the Dobinsons accompanied Crosby when she moved to Derby, with the specific intention of introducing Methodism to the town.

Dobinson served as a class leader and visitor to the sick and dying for the rest of her life. She died on April 12 1803 after a long period of ill health. In keeping with her background, she was buried at the Anglican parish church of St. Alkmunds and had a funeral sermon preached at the Methodist chapel.

Source: Methodist Magazine 1803, pp.557- 566, and article entitled Early Methodism in Derby, from the magazine Christian Miscellany December 1870

1762 Monday 16 August (Dobinson's house in Iron Gate) And in the evening came to Derby. I had sent word that I did not intend to preach; but after I had rested awhile in my chamber, coming down and finding the house full of people, I spoke to them half an hour in a familiar manner, and then spent some time in prayer. I believe God touched some of their hearts; indeed it seemed none were unmoved.

1764 Tuesday 27 March

Hence we rode to Derby. Mr Dobinson believed it would be best for me to preach in the Market-place, as there seemed to be a general inclination in the town, even among people of fashion, to hear me... A multitude of people were gathered at five, and were pretty quiet until I named my text. Then 'the beasts of the people' lifted up their voice, hallooing and shouting on every side... only a few pebble-stones were thrown, and no one hurt at all. Most of the rabble followed quite to Mr D's house; but it seems, without any malice prepense; for they stood stock still about an hour, then went quietly away.

At seven I met the society, with many other, who earnestly desired to be present. In the morning most of them came again, with as many more as we could well make room for; and indeed they received the word gladly. God grant they may bring forth fruit.

1764 Wednesday 28 March

Between eleven and twelve I preached at Alferton, twelve miles from Derby.

1765 Wednesday 20 March

M. Lewen took me in a post-chaise to Derby, where the new house was throughly filled; and the people behaved in a quite different manner, from what they did when I was here last.

1765 DERBY'S FIRST MEETING HOUSE

Derby's first Methodist chapel

The first Methodist Chapel in Derby was in St. Michael's Lane about half way down on the left from Queen Street. This was a small two storey plain rectangular building, and it was in this building in 1765 that John Wesley preached. This was demolished in 1971. However one of the new buildings backing onto the inner ring road is named Wesley House. The old building, which had not been used for worship for many years, had a plaque of acknowledgement attached. It was the custom before the 1939-45 War for a commemorative procession to take place once a year starting from the Market Place followed by a short service outside the building.

President of Conference unveiled the white marble Tablet on 16th May 1925

In this building
Which was the first Methodist preaching
House in Derbyshire
John Wesley preached
On March 20th 1765
Erected by the Derby & District Wesley Guild Society
1925

Hymns sung at the occasion were - Jesu lover of my soul, This, this is the God we adore, For all the saints, and Break day of God, O break.

But the rest is bad news. The building was demolished in 1971. Arthur Spencer wrote to me to say that the tablet had been taken to Green Hill Central Methodist Church for safe keeping but when he arrived there as Superintendent Minister for Derby South he discovered that the tablet was already broken into many small pieces and was disposed of.

1766 Thursday 20 March

It was as much as we could do to bear the cold before sunrise. However we came well to Burton before eleven where I preached to an exceeding serious congregation.

1766 Monday 24 March

We rode to Derby. I never saw this house full before; the people in general being profoundly careless. I endeavoured to show them their picture, by enlarging on those words, 'Gallio cared for none of these things.'

1766 Tuesday 25 March

At ten I preached in their new House at Creitch, about twelve miles from Derby, to a loving, simple-hearted people; many of whom felt what I spoke of fellowship with the Father and with the Son.

1766 Thursday 27 March

I preached in the morning at a little village near Eyam, in the High-Peak. The eagerness with which the poor people devoured the word made me amends for the cold ride over the snowy mountains.

1766 Tuesday 15 April

We rode to Chapel-en-le-Frith. We had a rough salutation in riding through the town; at the end of which a multitude of people being gathered together in a convenient meadow, I preached on 'By grace are ye saved through faith.' God spoke in his word. It was an acceptable time, and few went empty away.

1768 Wednesday 30 March

I rode to a little town called New-Mills, in the High Peak of Derbyshire. I preached at noon in their new chapel, which has a casement in every window, three inches square! That is the custom of the country!

1769 DRAYCOTT

Draycott first primitive

Still to be resolved is the date of this very early chapel in Draycott. A leaflet for an event in 1869, held at the second Wesleyan chapel, claimed that the first chapel preceded the event by more than 100 years. The Derbyshire chapel list of 1817 recorded 1790 for a new chapel in Draycott.

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1770 RIDING IN THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY

It was a great sacrifice and hardship to evangelise the English countryside.

Even in 1770 that great traveller Arthur Young could say there were only four good roads in Britain, while even on horse back the best speed one could hope to average in many places was two miles per hour.

John Wesley rode 250,000 miles (more than ten times round the world). He did not ride his horse hard and made it a rule that every preacher must see with his own eyes his horse rubbed, fed and bedded.

Despite his care the horse was not always fit for the job and in his journals Wesley refers to one journey where he set out for Oxford from London travelling at a very steady pace. His horse tired so he hired another. This horse also tired so he hired a third horse. One assumes that they were left for someone else to feed and water ready for use much in the same way as hire cars are used today.

1770 Thursday 26 July

On Thursday and Friday I preached at Creitch, Derby, Burton-upon-Trent, and Ashby.

1772 Thursday 19 March

I preached at Burton-upon-Trent;

1772 Sunday 22 March

In the evening I preached at Derby. Both the room and the yard were crowded enough, and yet abundance went away. After preaching the people hung at the doors, and could not be persuaded to go away. So at length I suffered them to come in with the society, and strongly exhorted them to worship God in spirit and truth.

1772 Monday 23 March

A huge congregation was present at five (Derby?), to whom I spoke with all possible plainness. About nine I reached Ashbourn, in the Peak; but the House would not hold a quarter of the people. So I stood in the market place, and cried aloud, 'Seek ye the Lord, while he may be found.'

1772 Tuesday 7 April

I went to New-Mills. Notwithstanding all the rain, the House was well filled; for nothing can hinder this lively people.

1772 JOHN WESLEY'S LETTERS

During his lifetime John Wesley wrote thousands of letters. He would correspond with certain people so that a collection of letters would result. Sometimes these collections would be discovered later as unknown sets. One of John Wesley's letters is in the possession of St John's Methodist church, Allestree, Derby. It had been torn up then rebuilt.

Newcastle

May 26 1772

My Dear Sister,

It is not likely, that I shall preach at Saxleby. For it is scarce worth while, to take the Sunday from the Isle: And I suppose it is only on a Sunday, the Minister is willing I shd preach. A few miles (tho' not along journey) I weaken to ride on horseback. I am in hopes, it is a gracious Providence, which has placed old Mr. Burnill at Epworth. I was not sorry at John Ellis' Death, when I heard he had determined to travel no more. If you walk humbly & closely with GOD, I doubt not but you will be happier & happier. We continually find, all our happiness depends upon this single point. All the question is, 'Do you now believe' with a loving, obedient heart? Any one of the Preachers that are now in the Epworth Circuit, May remain there another year. Which of them will be most useful there, I will be able to judge When I come. I am,

My Dear Sister,

YourAffectionate Brother

J Wesley

He was obviously replying to some questions and used the endearment 'My Dear Sister' for unrelated ladies with whom he often corresponded.

1772 Tuesday 11 August

About eight I preached at Grindeford-Bridge.

1774 Sunday 27 March

About noon I preached at Stapleford, six miles west from Nottingham. I stood in a meadow, because no house could contain the congregation.

1774 Monday 28 March

In the evening I preached at Derby, and had the satisfaction to observe an unusual seriousness in the congregation. Careless as they used to be, they seemed at length to know the day of their visitation.

1774 Tuesday 29 March

About ten I preached in the Market-place at Ashbourne to a large and tolerably serious congregation; and some I believe felt the word of God quick and powerful, while I enforced 'God now commandeth all men everywhere to repent.'

1774 Tuesday 5 April

About noon I preached at New Mills, to an earnest, artless, loving people; and in the evening, at poor, dull, dead Stockport.

1776 Wednesday 3 April

Having climbed over the mountains, I preached at New Mills, in Derbyshire. The people here are quite earnest and artless, there being no public worship in the town but at our chapel: So they go straight forward, knowing nothing of various opinions, and minding nothing but to be Bible-Christians.

1776 Wednesday 17 July

Having been desired, by one of Chesterfield, to give them a sermon in the way, I called there; but he did not come to own me. So, after resting awhile at another house, I stood at a small distance from the main street, and proclaimed salvation by faith to a serious congregation.

1777 Tuesday 17 June

I preached at the market-place at Chesterfield, on, 'it is appointed unto men once to die.' In the evening I preached at Derby. It was supposed the people would be afraid to come, as part of the roof had lately fallen in. (Indeed it fell an hour before the congregation met: Otherwise many must have been hurt.) But they were not afraid: The House was well filled: And even the rich attended with seriousness.

1779 Thursday 1 April

About one, I preached at New Mills, in Derbyshire. A commodious preaching-house, lately built, has proved a blessing to the whole country. They flock together from every quarter, and are thankful both to God and man.

1779 Friday 16 July

I preached in the evening at Derby, to many genteel and many plain people.


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1780 Monday 3 July

And Tuesday 4, I preached at Derby; Wednesday 5, at a church eight miles from it (possibly Draycott?)

1782 Monday 1 April

We set out in the morning for Chapel en la Frith but such a journey I have seldom had, unless in the middle of January.

1782 Tuesday 2 April

About ten I preached at New Mills to as simple a people as those in the chapel.

1782 Thursday 4 July

I preached at Derby. I trust the work of God will now prosper here also. All the jars of our brethren are at an end, and they strive together for the hope of the Gospel.

1783 Friday 23 May

I set out for Derby; but the smith had so effectively lamed one of my horses, that many told me he would never be able to travel more. I thought, 'even this may be made a matter of prayer;' and set out cheerfully. The horse, instead of growing worse and worse, went better and better; and in the afternoon brought me safe to Derby.

1783 Saturday 24 May

Being desired to marry two of our friends at Buxton, two and thirty miles from Derby, I took chaise at three and came thither about eight.

1783 DEED OF DECLARATION

The organisation of the members of the Methodist church and all the decisions legally resided in the person of John Wesley. In 1783 with Wesley in his 80th year and failing health it was decided that the succession must be secured. Dr. Thomas Coke who had a degree in Law, together with a barrister and solicitor, who were also members, drew up a Deed of Declaration, which was put to Conference. After much discussion this was agreed, and on 28th February 1784 the Deed was enrolled in the High Court of Chancery, giving the Methodist church legal identity. Dr. Coke as the originator of the Deed effectively became second in command. He worked to get the many property trust deeds on to an acceptable basis.

The legally recognised body constituted of one hundred preachers nominated by John Wesley. The deed also settled the basis of the Methodist ministry on the principal of itinerancy, which is still maintained today, stating that conference should appoint preachers for no more than three years consecutively to the use and enjoyment of any chapel and premises.

1783 Monday 1 September

We clambered over the mountains to Buxton, and in the afternoon preached at Fairfield church, about half a mile from the town; it was thoroughly filled with serious and attentive hearers.

1786 Monday 3 April

About eleven I preached to a crowded congregation in the new House near Chapel-en-le-frith. Many of these lively people come from among the mountains, and strongly remind me of those fine verses wherein Dr. Burton paraphrases those plain words, 'The hills are a refuge for the wild goats.'

1786 Wednesday 5 July

Notice was given, without my knowledge, of my preaching at Belper, seven miles short of Derby. I was nothing glad of this, as it obliged me to quit the turnpike road, to hobble over a miserable common. The people, gathered from all parts, were waiting. So I went immediately to the Market-place; and, standing under a large tree, testified, 'this life eternal, to know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou has sent.' The House at Derby was throughly filled in the evening. As many of the better sort (so called) were there, I explained (what seemed to be more adapted to the circumstances and experience,) 'This only have I found, that God made man upright; but they have found out many inventions.'

1786 Thursday 6 July

In going to Ilston, we were again entangled in miserable roads. We got thither, however about eleven. Though the church is large, it was sufficiently crowded... Surely good will be done in this place; though it is strongly opposed both by the Calvinists and Socinians.

THE SUNDAY SCHOOL MOVEMENT

The Sunday school movement naturally found a keen ally in Wesley, started as it was to give the rudiments of education and culture to the children of the gutter, as well as to see that they were adequately clothed and cleansed. There had been sporadic attempts at this type of work centuries before and there were Methodist forerunners to Robert Raikes' experiment in 1780, notably the Sunday school run by Hannah Ball at High Wycombe till her death in 1792. Raikes was the movement's great publicist, however, and Wesley recognized him as such, inserting his appeal for more Sunday schools in the Arminian Magazine. The first Sunday School in Derby started in 1786.

1788 Monday 7 April

With a deal of difficulty got to New Mills; the road over the mountains being scarce passable; but the earnestness of the congregation made amends for the difficulty of the journey. They are all athirst for God.

1788 Friday 11 July

We set out early for Derby. About nine, within about a mile of the Peacock, suddenly the axletree of my chaise snapped asunder, and the carriage overturned. The horses stood still till Jenny Smith and I crept out at the fore-windows. The broken glass cut one of my gloves a little, but did us no other damage. I soon procured another chaise, and went on to Derby, where I preached in the evening; and at five in the morning.

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1790 Friday 9 July

Left Chesterfield took chaise at eight to Derby. Mrs Dobinson's for dinner and preached at society afterwards.

Thus ended the recorded visits to Derbyshire spread over a period of fifty years.

In John Wesley's diary dated Friday January 1st 1790 he wrote 'I am now an old man, decayed from head to foot... However, blessed be to God, I do not slack my labour: I can preach and write still.'

1790 NEARLY DROWNED

The London Chronicle 1790

Extract from a letter from a gentleman on the Isle of Wight dated April 30th

'It is with infinite regret I inform you, that yefterday, after the Rev John Wefley had preached at Egypt, a little way from hence, a meffenger from Portsmouth brought him an invitation to preach at the great chapel in that town. This venerable, good, grey haired gentleman of the gofpel immediately obeyed the fummons; and not withftanding the wind blew very ftrong he embarked on board the fame little veffel which brought over the meffenger. Unfortunately, by the careleffnefs of the boat�s crew, they got entangled in the bowsprit of the Royal George, funk at Spithead, and by that means the boat was overfet. This reverend gentleman was fully an hour in the water combating with the waves, when at length a boat ventured out from Ryde, and picked him up, with the other perfons who were overfet, and brought them fafe to the vine, in this town, where every kind of neceffary attention was paid to them; but I am very apprehensive that Mr Wefley will feel the effects of this unfortunate accident during the remainder of his life, not withftanding he appears to bear it with all Chriftian patience and fortitude.'

This contemporary newspaper report records a dramatic incident in the final years of Wesley's ministry when he is supposed to have nearly drowned in the Solent near Portsmouth. The episode cannot be accurately dated and must have occurred after the sinking of the Royal George in August 1782. Wesley would have been in his eighties at the time and must have been very fit to have survived so long in the water.

Despite this ordeal there is no reference of it in his journals although he does record that the weather was nearly always inclement and the seas high whenever he went to the Isle of Wight.

1790 JOHN WESLEY'S LAST CONFERENCE

During the eleven days of the conference, which commenced on 27th July, Wesley's diary had no fewer than forty-six references to his time of prayer. On several days almost every hour has its interval of prayer. No wonder that Charles Atmore says, 'surely this great good man is the prodigy of the present age.'

LAST DAYS IN BRISTOL 1790

Wesley kept his diary carefully and on August 1st appears the famous entry:

'As my sight fails me much, I do not purpose to keep any more accounts. It suffices that I gain all I can, I save all I can, and give all I can, that is, all I have. J.W.'

1791 JOHN WESLEY'S MINISTRY

At the beginning of his ministry the following itinerary was normal for the Bristol area. He would arise at 4am every morning and continued this practice throughout his life.

He preached at Newgate every morning and also as follows:

  Monday Somewhere near Bristol
  Tuesday Bath and Two Mile Hill
  Wednesday Baptist Mills
  Thursday Pensford (fortnightly)
  Friday Kingswood (fortnightly)
  Saturday Bowling Green in the morning
  Sunday Bowling Green in the morning
  Hanham Mount 11 am
  Clifton 2 pm
  Rosegreen 5 pm

At the end of his ministry (1791) shortly before his death he was still preaching -

  Thursday 17th February at Lambeth
  Friday 18th February at Chelsea
  Monday 21st February at City Road
  Wednesday 23rd February at Leatherhead

Between these years 1738 until 1791 he travelled over 200,000 miles, mostly on horseback, and preached over 40,000 sermons.

1791 WESLEY'S TRANSLATION

At Wesley's deathbed he said, 'I want to write.'

The pen was put in his hand but he said, 'I cannot.'

Miss Richie replies 'Let me write for you, Sir; tell me what you would say.'

'Nothing, but God is with us.'

Later in the day He cried out 'The best of all, God is with us.'

A few minutes before ten on Wednesday morning 2nd March 1791 he passed away.

FACING THE FUTURE

When Wesley died, London and Bristol were still the chief Methodist centres of England. A few years after the opening of the Portland Chapel Kingsdown in 1792, and Old King Street, nearby in 1795, this old chapel became the property of the Welsh Calvanistic Methodists. Welsh services were held there for more than one hundred and twenty years, until August 1929, when it again came into the possession of the Wesleyan Methodists.

The first Methodist Church Congress was held in Central Hall 7th - 10th October 1929.

AFTER JOHN WESLEY

It was inevitable that, when the hand of death removed Wesley's firm control, there would be trouble. Many followers regarded the loss of their leader as an opportunity to discard the least pretence of allegiance to the Church of England. At the other extreme there were those who maintained that it was wrong for Methodist preachers who had not been episcopally ordained to administer the sacraments.

Wesley had foreseen these problems with a letter he had written in 1785, with instructions that it should be read at the Conference following his death. In it he pleaded with the Methodist preachers to remain a band of brothers, and with those in particular who had been named by him as the 'Legal Hundred' not to-

'Assume any superiority over your brethren; but let all things go on... exactly in the same manner as when I was with you, so far as circumstances will permit.'

1791 MONEYPENNY'S MAP

Moneypenny's map of Derby coincides with John Wesley's death. At that time the Wesleyan chapel (1764-1805), claimed to be the first in the county of Derby, would appear on this map. A redrawn map shown in Davidson's book of 1906 was based on Moneypenny's map in order to show places of interest. We must assume it gives an impression of Derby in 1791 (it is certainly not Derby in 1906) showing two Methodist meeting houses, a Wesleyan Chapel in St Michaels Lane and a Primitive Methodist Chapel in Albion Street.

However, the Primitive Movement did not begin until 1807 and the Primitive chapel is shown on Albion Street which does not appear on the original map.

The first record of Primitive Methodist activity in Derbyshire is at Belper in 1814 with societies at Mercaston, Turnditch and Western Underwood. The term 'Ranters' was first used in Belper to describe Methodists who were heard to sing and pray loudly in the street whilst walking to and from work. The first Primitive Methodist Chapel in Derby was in Albion Street but not until 1817.

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Copyright © Colin Hinds 2008