Debt was always a concern for poor, working people who were the core Primitive Methodists. One example is shown in the 1846 Primitive Methodist magazine – Scrubbs Primitive Methodist chapel in the Stroud circuit. John Richards tells how even though a new chapel had been opened in 1840, the society found the debt a major burden.
I had initially the technical problem that I had no idea where Scrubbs was. Thanks to Philip Thornborow and Gloucestershire archives for tracking it down – see the comment below.
This is the account
“Scrubbs chapel, in the Stroud circuit, was built in the year 1840; the land and a considerable portion of the materials were given by two gentlemen, and sufficient cash was obtained by subscriptions and donations before and at the opening to pay the costs incurred in building, with the exception of about £21 5s.
This sum was owing when I came to the circuit in July, 1844, the interest thereon and other needful expenses requiring nearly the amount of the chapel’s yearly income. As the population was thin and poor, there was but little prospect of paying the debt from the seat-money ; hence I thought it advisable, at a tea-meeting held in the chapel on September 24th, 1845, to suggest to the party the possibility and utility of discharging the debt by extra efforts.
Shortly, £51 11s. being promised towards this object, I was encouraged to engage to collect the residue. However, at the close of the meeting it was unanimously agreed that we should avail ourselves of the produce of a second tea-meeting on Christmas day, 1845.
Accordingly, at the time appointed, the chapel was filled with people anxious to exert themselves to the best of their power to further the object for which we had assembled. After sufficient money had been produced, a religious service was held ; much of the Divine presence was experienced, and the people rejoiced together because the house of the Lord was debtless.
Primitive Methodist magazine 1846 pages 97-98