Local preacher, Weston, Berkshire
Already in the summer of 1830 – perhaps as early as June – a local preacher from Weston (Berks., not the Weston in Hampshire), called William Hawkins, a carter by trade, was preaching “up in Hampshire” and reported that “we have a great work in that county.” He was converted through the preaching of Thomas Russell in the week beginning Sunday 18th April 1830. A class of over twenty members was formed in his home that year, but his employer evicted him for receiving the preachers, and (he told Russell) “Mrs Hawkins felt keenly when the bailiff put all their furniture out in the road, and she and her little children stood weeping under drenching rain.”
Fourteen years later Russell met him again, and he told Russell, “I am now a trustee for a number of chapels, and I go far and near to preach the gospel.” Weston is only about eight miles from Combe (which was in Hampshire at the time) and East Woodhay, in both of which places Primitive Methodism took root, and it seems likely therefore that William Hawkins was one of the first Primitive Methodist preachers to preach in Hampshire, even before the travelling preachers penetrated the county.
I should be very grateful if anyone could supply more information about this brother – perhaps an obituary (though I do not know when he died) from a local or denominational magazine or newspaper, or perhaps via his descendants, or the current Methodist circuit.