7. William Clowes in the “Adam Bede” Country

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

WE are safe in concluding that then events recorded on pp. 100-6a of Clowes’ “Journals” relate to the time in 1812 we have reached. Clowes tells of his yisits to Ramsor and its neighbourhood, also Boyiestone, Rodley and Hollington. The societies in these places had now returned to their allegiance after Mrs. Dunnell’s downfall, and their names stood on the plan. At this time Ramsor and Wootton in North-East Staffordshire, although mere hamlets in the parish of Ellaston, were Primitive Methodist strongholds and served as a useful base for extension. They have the distinction of being expressly named in our Deed Poll as two places at which, in 1808, Hugh and James Bourne formed congregations and established regular services for religious worship. Happily we know the exact ates and the interesting circumstances nder which these two societies were formed. Here lived the Critchelows, the Buxtons, Joseph Horobin, who paid for the printing of the first tickets, and Francis Dreacott, who prayed that the Lord would keep William Clowes humble! 

Ramsor and Wootton-under-Weaver are in the heart of the “Adam Bede” country. Ellaston is the “Hayslope” of the famous story, and it was on Ellaston Green that “Dinah” preached that sermon we all know so well.

Prior to her marriage to Mr. Samuel Evans, the gifted young preacheress had gone about this district carrying a winsome gospel. Roston Moor, where Samuel Evans was born, and Ellaston Green were two of her favourite preaching places. On June 25th, 1809, Hugh Bourne heard Mrs. Evans preach in the open-air at Wootton, and he and his brother took part in the service. His Journal gives us the best contemporary description of “Dinah Morris” we know.

After this service, Bourne tells us, “they had a plead with sinners near the public house.” They had “but little persecution, although it was Wakes’ time.”

Time and time again Clowes traversed this district and, in the part of the “Journals” already referred to, he gives an incident which “George Elliot” has also worked up in Adam Bede—that of the drowning scene. The incident may be thus summarised.

At Rodsley, in his house-to-house visitation, Clowes entered a cottage where the old man reeled off some of the Church prayers without book to show that he was a good Churchman. He was reminded that being a good Churchman would not save him. Prayer followed. On rising from their knees the old man cried to his wife: “Mary, give him a shilling; he has prayed well.” The old man declined to go

to the service. “Mary might go and he would go another time.” Clowes still pressed him to attend the service, for the reason that he might be in eternity before the preacher came that way again. So it was; for some time after, Clowes was crossing a brook in this neighbourhood, when he saw a walking-stick, and on looking round for an explanation, he saw the dead body of “Ned Carter of Rodsley.” who had been drowned on returning from Cheadle wake.


Primitive Methodist Magazine 1912/537

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