1. “Like unto leaven which a woman took . . . “

Transcription of article in the series “one Hundred Years Ago” by H. Bickerstaffe Kendall

WERE there in the religious societies of Nottingham those who were in strong sympathy with Revivalism at the time Sarah Kirkland visited that town? We know there were such sympathisers at Hull and Leeds; and we may well believe that in Nottingham, where for three years Bramwell had laboured, the tradition of Revivalism endured. In short, the expectation is created that we shall meet the same phenomenon here that we find a little later in Hull and Leeds. Is there any evidence pointing in this direction? Not much, we must admit, because so little information survives respecting those who formed our first society in Nottingham. What little evidence is forthcoming, however, tends to confirm the expectation already formed. Thus, Hugh Bourne tells us that Mr. Richard Weston, of Lexhead, one of our early self-supporting ministers, had a brother living in Nottingham whose wife was “a zealous professor of religion.” Finding himself in Nottingham for the purpose of buying Sunday school requisites, Hugh Bourne called upon the Westons as he had been requested to do. In conversation Mrs. Weston strongly urged that the Primitives should visit Nottingham. He sees a possible link of causation between this “zealous” woman’s solicitude and the fact that her brother-in-law had “a main hand in the opening of Nottingham.” One may also go on to reflect that it was extremely unlikely that our two missioners would go to Nottingham unknown and unexpected, and that persons of their condition. and in their circumstances would make an inn their quarters during their two or three days’ mission. It is much more reasonable to suppose that modest hospitality was offered them by some good souls who were in full sympathy with the object they had in view. These are but surmises, however plausible and congruous with the situation they may be. Much more directly bearing on the point is the statement made by Herod concerning the part played by Mr. Sutcliffe, dyer, of Nottingham. When it was known that hundreds of people had turned away disappointed from the room in which Sarah Kirkland was preaching on December 26th, this good man was greatly distressed. He declared: “I will spend a whole day in search, but I will have a commodious place for her to preach in.” He was as good as his word. Next morning he began his quest, and after a long search found a disused factory in the Broad Marsh capable of holding a thousand people. This he secured.

Just at this point a sentence of Herod’s will be found helpful. It seems to settle the question whether at this early stage a Primitive Methodist society could have been in existence: “The furnishing of it [the room] was a great undertaking for a society just formed; but John Benton and a few others advanced money by way of loan, and in the course of a few weeks it was prepared for opening. There is an old saying we have heard in Northumberland, to the effect that, “Where there’s a being, there’s a biding.” At Nottingham there was a Society “in being,” and it must needs have its “biding”; it was the disused factory that provided it.

Before returning to Mercaston Sarah Kirkland gave her promise to preach at the opening of the converted factory. That promise she fulfilled, before the month of January, 1816, expired, we have reason to believe. The occasion was a memorable one. Sixteen persons were converted, ten of whom, according to Mr. Thomas Simmons’ testimony, afterwards becoming local preachers. The Sheffield Quaker described Carver Street Chapel as “the converting furnace.” The same description might have been applied to the Broad Marsh Factory.


Primitive Methodist Magazine 1916/5

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