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The Mid-Victorian Revolution in Wesleyan Methodist Home Mission

  • DAVID W. BEBBINGTON (a1)
Abstract

Wesleyan Methodists in Victorian Britain are supposed to have been hampered by traditional methods of mission. From the 1850s onwards, however, they launched a strategy of appointing home missionary ministers. Although Wesleyans adopted no new theology, left structures unchanged and still relied on wealthy laymen, they developed fresh work in cities, employed paid lay agents, used women more and recruited children as fundraisers. Organised missions, temperance activity and military chaplaincies bolstered their impact. District Missionaries and Connexional Evangelists were appointed and, in opposition to ritualist clergy, Wesleyans increasingly saw themselves as Nonconformists. They experienced a quiet revolution in home mission.

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I should like to express my gratitude to the members of staff at the John Rylands Library, Manchester, for help with sources for this paper and to the staff of the Nazarene College, Didsbury, Manchester, for the invitation to deliver it to a seminar at the college while holding a Visiting Fellowship at the John Rylands Institute/Manchester Wesley Research Centre.

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1 Inglis, Kenneth S., Churches and the working classes in Victorian England, London 1963, 85100.

2 Rack, Henry D., ‘Wesleyan Methodism, 1849–1902’, in Davies, Rupert and others (eds), A history of the Methodist Church in Great Britain, London 1965–88, iii. 123.

3 Brown, Callum G., The death of Christian Britain: understanding secularisation, 1800–2000, 2nd edn, London 2009, 149–56; Clive D. Field, ‘The social structure of English Methodism: eighteenth–twentieth centuries’, British Journal of Sociology xxviii (1977), 199–225.

4 Inglis, Churches and the working classes, 89–90.

5 Oldstone-Moore, Christopher, Hugh Price Hughes: founder of a new Methodism, conscience of a new Nonconformity, Cardiff 1999.

6 Methodist Times, 12 Mar. 1885, 161, quoted in Inglis, Churches and the working classes, 91.

7 Inglis, Churches and the working classes, 87–8.

8 Standing, Roger, The Forward Movement: Evangelical pioneers of ‘social Christianity’, Milton Keynes 2015, 60.

9 Turner, John Munsey, Wesleyan Methodism, Peterborough 2005, 50.

10 Gowland, David A., Methodist secessions: the origins of Free Methodism in three Lancashire towns: Manchester, Rochdale, Liverpool, Manchester 1979.

11 Urwin, Evelyn C., The significance of 1849: Methodism's greatest upheaval, London 1949, 23.

12 Bunting, Thomas P., The life of Jabez Bunting, D.D., London 1887, 727.

13 Charles Haydon to Nehemiah Curnock, 3 Apr.1853, MAM, PLP 51.29.9.

14 Bunting, Jabez Bunting, p. 727.

15 Prest, Charles, Fourteen letters on the home-work of Wesleyan Methodism, its sustentation and extension, London 1856, 44.

16 Watts, Michael R., The Dissenters, II: The expansion of Evangelical Nonconformity, Oxford 1995, 28.

17 Report (1856), 6.

18 Prest, Fourteen letters, 61–3.

19 Report (1860), 12.

20 Thomas Farmer to Isaac Keeling, 12 Nov. 1855, MAM, PLP 38.68.16; Prest, Fourteen letters, 39–40.

21 Report (1856), 8; (1857), 12, 14; (1861), 14–15.

22 Report (1856), 32.

23 Prest, Fourteen letters, 31, 32.

24 Report (1856), 5.

25 Pritchard, John, Methodists and their missionary societies, 1760–1900, Farnham 2013, 211.

26 Report (1860), 11.

27 Report (1861), 31.

28 Report (1872), 9.

29 Prest, Fourteen letters, 59–60.

30 Report (1856), 23.

31 Report (1858), 10, 11, 12.

32 Report (1862), 11.

33 Report (1876), 27.

34 Report (1877), 20.

35 Report (1857), 17; (1860), 18; (1865), 15; (1872), 14; (1875), 13.

36 Report (1863), 10.

37 Wesley, John, The works of John Wesley, X: The Methodist societies: the minutes of Conference, ed. Rack, Henry D., Nashville, Tn, 2011, 324.

38 Report (1858), 11, 10.

39 Bebbington, David W., Evangelicalism in modern Britain: a history from the 1830s to the 1980s, London 1989, ch. i.

40 Report (1861), 6.

41 Waddy, Adeline, The life of the Rev. Samuel D. Waddy, D.D., London 1878, 72.

42 Report (1858), 13, 8.

43 Report (1862), 11.

44 Report (1857), 3; (1862), 40.

45 Vickers, John A. (ed.), A dictionary of Methodism in Britain and Ireland, Peterborough 2000, 215.

46 Sir Francis Lycett to Gervase Smith, 28 Dec. 1872, MAM, PLP 71.18.2.

47 Alexander M'Aulay to Richard Tabraham, 7 Apr. 1868, MAM, PLP 71.35.32.

48 Calculated from Watts, Dissenters, ii. 682–3, 708–9.

49 Report (1856), 19.

50 Report (1871), 14, 15.

51 LMMM, 19 Jan. 1866.

52 Report (1861), 13, 15.

53 Sampson, William, Rev. Alexander McAulay, the Apostle of East London, London 1896, 1820; Report (1861), 16.

54 Report (1868), 46.

55 Report (1859), 12.

56 Macdonald, Frederic W., The life of William Morley Punshon, LL.D., London 1887, 195–9, 275–8.

57 Report (1861), 34–5.

58 Report (1862), 30–1.

59 Report (1874), 45.

60 Standing, Roger, ‘Charles Garrett and the birth of the Wesleyan Central Mission Movement’, Wesley and Methodist Studies vi (2014), 89123 at pp. 92–4.

61 Obituary of Garrett, Methodist Recorder (n.d.), MAM, PLP 43.29.1; Report (1876), 34.

62 Report (1858), 12.

63 Report (1861), 34.

64 LMMM, 21 Feb. 1876, 17 Feb. 1879.

65 M'Cullagh, H. H., Thomas M'Cullagh: a short story of a long life, London 1909, 66.

66 Report (1876), 42.

67 Report (1878), 36.

68 Lenton, John H., ‘Labouring for the Lord: women preachers in Wesleyan Methodism, 1802–1932: a revisionist view’, in Sykes, R. (ed.), Beyond the boundaries: preaching in the Wesleyan tradition, Oxford 1998, 67, 71.

69 Brown, Death of Christian Britain, 96–7.

70 Ellison, James E., History of the Lincoln Fields Wesleyan Methodist Sunday School and society (Brunswick Circuit, Leeds), 1830–1894, Leeds 1895, 75.

71 Cooke, Harriette J., Mildmay: or, The story of the first deaconess institution, 2nd edn, London 1893.

72 Bradfield, William, The life of the Reverend Thomas Bowman Stephenson, B.A., LL.D., D.D., founder of ‘The Children's Home’ and of the Wesley Deaconess Institute, London 1913, 173.

73 Report (1878), 3; Bradfield, Stephenson, chs xi, xix.

74 Leeds First Circuit Schedule Book, 1863–73, WYL 490, 206, West Yorkshire Joint Services Archives, Leeds.

75 Blake, Joseph, The day of small things: or, Incitement to juvenile activity and usefulness, founded on practical effort, in connection with Christian missions, London 1849.

76 Idem, The day of small things: or, A plain guide to the formation of Juvenile Home and Foreign Missionary Associations in Sunday and day schools and private families, Sheffield 1865.

77 Report (1872), 36.

78 At Home and Abroad: A Magazine of Home and Foreign Missions liii (May 1883), 98.

79 Report (1872), 36.

80 Report (1870), 48.

81 Report (1871), 46.

82 Watts, Dissenters, ii. 661.

83 Report (1878), 18.

84 Report (1870), 44.

85 LMMM, 13 Sept., 20 Nov. 1876.

86 Report (1877), 20.

87 James Loutit to John E. Coulson, 7 Feb. 1872, MAM, PLP 70.37.8.

88 Obituary of Garrett, Methodist Recorder (n.d.), MAM, PLP 43.29.1; Brake, George Thompson, Drink: ups and downs of Methodist attitudes to temperance, London 1974, 15.

89 Report (1870), 47; (1873), 38.

90 Brake, Drink, 19–23; Report (1877), 16; (1878), 11, 12, 14.

91 At Home and Abroad lxi (Jan. 1884), 30.

92 Jobson, Frederick J., The course fulfilled: a sermon preached in City Road Chapel, London, September 6th, 1875, on the death of the Rev. Charles Prest, General Secretary of Wesleyan Home-Missions, with a sketch of the life and services of the deceased; and a plea for the mission work he officially represented, London [1875], 41.

93 Report (1858), 21.

94 Ibid. 24.

95 Owen Spencer Watkins, Soldiers and preachers too, London 1906, chs v, vi.

96 Report (1873), 13.

97 Report (1858), 22.

98 Oldstone-Moore, Hugh Price Hughes, esp. pp. 137–8.

99 Report (1859), 5–6.

100 Report (1856), 28.

101 Report (1865), 11.

102 Report (1873), 10.

103 Jobson, Frederick J., A plea for the spread and support of Methodism in the villages, London [1873].

104 Report (1874), 7.

105 Report (1875), 12.

106 Report (1876), 31–4.

107 Smart, Henry T., Thomas Cook's early ministry, London 1892, 72–4.

108 Report (1861), 27; (1877), 24.

109 Report (1859), 25, 27.

110 Report (1872), 7.

111 Report (1866), 53; (1874), 40.

112 Report (1867), 5; (1868), 12.

113 Edmund Grindrod to Jabez Bunting, 26 June 1837, MAM, PLP 47.16.56.

114 Prest, Fourteen letters, 19.

115 Report (1874), 39.

116 Report (1866), 54.

117 Report (1871), 43.

118 Report (1874), 7.

119 Bebbington, David W., The Nonconformist conscience: Chapel and politics, 1870–1914, London 1982, ch. iv.

120 Watts, Michael R., The Dissenters: III: The crisis and conscience of Nonconformity, Oxford 2015, 85–6.

I should like to express my gratitude to the members of staff at the John Rylands Library, Manchester, for help with sources for this paper and to the staff of the Nazarene College, Didsbury, Manchester, for the invitation to deliver it to a seminar at the college while holding a Visiting Fellowship at the John Rylands Institute/Manchester Wesley Research Centre.

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