11. John Ride: The Marshal’s Baton in the Privates’s Knapsack

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

1812 deserves to be marked red in our calendar, if for no other reason than that it provided for the future extension of Primitive Methodism by enlisting John Ride into its service. Ride was awakened to a sense of his true spiritual condition at Weston-under-Wood while listening to a sermon from Eleazar Hathorn, the colleague of John Benton in the latter’s evangelistic labours in these Derbyshire villages. Meetings for prayer and testimony were begun, and these meetings Ride regularly attended, but rather as a seeker than as one who had found. But deliverance came to him suddenly one Sunday as he came from meeting. In the joy of his new experience he whirled his hat round his head and shouted “Glory! Glory! GLORY!” at the top of his voice. Now there was a neighbour in the outfield who was witness of these transports, and he, alarmed, ran to John’s father. “Mister! yon’s your Jack gone crazed. Yo’ mun go to him directly.” When the greatly concerned father reached his son he found him, like the impotent man, “walking and leaping and praising God.” It is never wise to cross those who are crazy; it is always better to agree with them. So when the son shouted: “Fayther, yo’ mun get converted!” the father readily agreed: “Aye, aye, my lad, I will.” “But you mun get converted now, fayther,’’ was the very sane rejoinder.

From this story it may be gathered that John Ride was a rough recruit. But sometimes the conscript carries in his knapsack the baton of the future general; and it is as a general, fearless and tireless in the field, and, above all, wise in strategy, that we think of John Ride. One of the finest strategic movements the early extension of Primitive Methodism can show is that which John Ride led from 1828 to 1848. Stubbornly and surely the forces under his command pushed their way from Brinkworth to Shefford, and then from Shefford (which in 1836 had twenty-three preachers attached to it!) on to Reading. Ride was the superintendent of each of these great missionary circuits in turn, and successively made them the base for his advance. The movement had also its lateral extensions on both sides—into Hampshire and Surrey on its right and into Buckinghamshire on its left. But Ride himself kept with the main line of advance, and when that was successful in 1843 he went, appropriately enough, to Cooper’s Gardens, London. Then the enveloping movement on London and the Home Counties which Norwich and Hull had carried out on the East was completed on the West by “General” Ride. We may well call him such, for he had proved himself much more than “a missionary at large,” going just where chance and occasion might send him. Ride had his objective constantly before him, and he made his dispositions accordingly. It was a fine piece of work.

John Ride was always a prodigious worker. And, as he was unsparing of himself, so, like some generals of whom we read, he did not spare his subordinates. One thinks he must surely be the only man who has officially received the double injunction not to be too prodigal of his own strength, and not to exact too much from his subordinates. But so the double charge stands in the Minutes of 1845, which record his appointment as Superintendent of the Missions. Here are the words :—

“John Ride shall be seriously and importunately desired not to arrange work which cannot be executed regularly by himself in his Sunday visits, or by any man of ordinary mental and physical energy.”


Primitive Methodist Magazine 1912/844

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