9. ‘Earmarked for Service’

Transcription of article by H. Bickerstaffe Kendall, B.A. in the series One Hundred Years Ago

IT may be well to note that One Hundred Years Ago Hugh Bourne was forty years of age; Clowes thirty-two; Benton twenty-eight ; John Wedgwood and Thomas King twenty-four; while Thomas Batty, “The Apostle of Weardale,” was twenty-two. He is now serving in one of H.M. ships-of-war, and in another year will get his discharge. Unfortunately we cannot give just now the birth-year of W. Braithwaite, “The Apostle of North Lincolnshire,” or of John Ride, who was to lead the Connexion’s advance in Wessex, though undoubtedly in Ride’s case the year would fall in the closing decade of the 18th century. But we do know that in 1812 Sarah Kirkland, the missioner of Nottingham, was eighteen years of age, and John Harrison, her future husband, one year younger, while S. Turner and T. Bateman were thirteen. Hugh Bourne is the Nestor of this evangelistic band. His birth-year, 1772, goes deeper into the past century than does that of any of the others. Beginning with him, there is a graduation of age in the diminishing degree till we come to 1800 (which we take to be the last year of the century) when John Garner was born. The graduation is not the product of artificial arrangement; it is natural. The names of those who were destined to be the leaders in the great revivals of 1817-19 were first thought of, and then their ages, as we find them in 1812, subjoined, with the result set forth.

We know something of Benton, and are aware that he is still busy carving out his circuit on the borders of Derbyshire. But what of John Wedgwood? We know that he will play a conspicuous part in the great revival in the Midlands in 1817-1818, and in Cheshire in 1819. It will fall to his lot to be the Connexion’s proto-confessor and suffer imprisonment. But is it possible to know what he was doing in 1812? Mr. Petty, in his History, remarks, “That the circumstances connected with his conversion and the exact time when he united with the Connexion we are unable to furnish.” Even now this statement largely holds good. But we are not altogether left in the dark as to his mind and movements. It is barely possible that it is John Wedgwood who is indicated in the note which appears on the Burslem (Methodist) Circuit Plan at the end of the preachers names:—“N.B. W. Clowes Wedgwood, W.E., to be employed occasionally.” As 1809 is given as the year of his conversion his advance must have been rapid, if, before that year ended, the pulpits of the Burslem Circuit were occasionally opened to him. But, fortunately, we do get a clear date as to his connection with Primitive Methodism. In 1868 Mrs. Bembridge (Sarah Kirkland) stated that she distinctly remembered John Wedgwood preaching at her father’s house at Mercaston in 1812, and that he preached at several of the neighbouring villages where he was well received and good was done. She stated, furthermore, that she learned that Wedgwood “had had to contend with much opposition at home, but that he remained firm.” Here we pass from conjecture and gain firm footing. By 1813 we shall find Wedgwood the true yoke-fellow of Clowes and Bourne.

So in 1812 Samson Turner was not the only one by any means who was being divinely “earmarked” for the Connexion. It is with interest we watch the process going on—one that was so necessary and fraught with such wide and far-reaching issues. The definite call to larger service had not yet come to these chosen ones, but it would not long be delayed.


Primitive Methodist Magazine 1912/676

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