We of the Mother District are justly proud of our heritage. We drop the distinctive name “Primitive,’ but Mow Cop, Tunstall, and Bemersley are writ ineradicably on our hearts. Here happened those thrilling events that constitute the cherished romance of our history:—The birth and rebirth of the Founders; their novel method of evangelism inaugurated on Mow; their dismissal from their beloved Mother Methodist Church; their unquenchable enthusiasm that sent them East, West, North and South, proclaiming the Evangel; the unpretentious Press and Book-Room at Bemersley; the tombs of the Bournes and Russell at Englesea Brook, and of Jas. Steele at Wolstanton! The mere mention of the names stirs our blood!
Until 1824 Tunstall was the only district. Longer still it was the seat of government, with Bourne as General Superintendent, directing Synodical business and all official concerns in the five newly-formed districts. Thenceforward until 1873 Tunstall District remained intact. Then the West Midland District was formed and in 1894 it was further divided by grouping the Salopian and Welsh border Circuits as Shrewsbury District.
When District Boundaries were unclimbable a galaxy of giants—ministerial and lay—gave the District a prestige comparable with its history: Thomas Bateman, the cultured yeoman who, during his seventy odd years of official membership, chairmaned more Committees, Synods, and Conferences than any other man; John Benton, who defied the ‘‘Non-Mission Law’ by founding scores of new societies; John Wedgwood, relative of Josiah and of Clowes, and Benton’s coadjutor, whose visible memorial is our Church at Heath Street, Crewe; James Nixon, who spread his first new suit before the Lord and prayed to be preserved from pride in wearing it; Richard Jukes, the sweet singer of our Israel, whose hymns rang round the world, “My heart is fixed” being still a prime favourite; Henry Higginson, tall, ungainly, eccentric, terribly nervous, yet eloquent and immensely popular; Philip Pugh, statesman and dialectician, interred at Newcastle; Jas. Pritchard, biographer of Jukes and Pugh; Jas. Prosser, and his son, David S. Prosser—the little wizard of the pulpit; Thomas Guttery, the polished orator, father of “A.T.’; the stentorian Samuel Peake, father of our late beloved Professor; Thomas Richards, horse-lover and pulpit and platform peer; William Wright, impassioned evangelist, prodigal with his adjectives; Ald. M‘Neill, Crewe’s beloved Mayor; Robert Mayer, similarly honoured in Newcastle; the Hockenhull Brothers, stalwarts of the Cheshire and Salopian border; George Jones, autocratic but kindly, the last doyen of our old District; and last, but not least, Vice-President Hawthorne, ‘‘a varie gentil, pairfit, Christian knight.”
And the glory has not all departed. Our Synods are worthy of our glorious past. Our Committees are models of brotherliness and ability. And we are responsive to Connexional appeals, accepting loyally our responsibility to the Peake Memorial and the Laymen’s Mutual Aid Funds.
To the new and larger Methodism Tunstall District will make no mean contribution.
Rev. A. WILKES