2. The two R.W.’s and Nottingham

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

HEROD is our authority for the statement that Sarah Kirkland was officially reckoned a “travelling preacher” from February, 1816. Hugh Bourne tells us he agreed to pay her two guineas a quarter out of his own pocket; but Derby Circuit —formed in 1816—insisted on becoming responsible for her salary, as they feared that, otherwise, her acceptable labours might be confined to Tunstall Circuit. To Hugh Bourne “it was a matter of indifference” who paid her modest stipend, so long as she was given up to the work. Her first round was in her own neighbourhood, then she moved on to Tunstall and its vicinity; thence into Cheshire, and after that to the places that at a later period were to constitute the Ramsor Circuit. Soon we shall meet Sarah Kirkland again busily engaged in the Nottinghamshire mission.

With the Nottingham Centenary Conference of 1916 already looming in the near distance, anything relating to the beginnings of Primitive Methodism in that city is worthy of record. Now it is to be noted that Walford, in his “Life of Hugh Bourne,” has incorporated with extracts from Hugh Bourne’s Journal and his own deductions and comments thereon, certain memoranda of Hugh Bourne’s which, when closely examined, are seen to have been written some considerable time later than 1816. They are the reminiscences of one who is looking back upon the Great Revival in Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire in 1817 and 1818 respectively. He recalls the names of some of those who were actively engaged in this stirring period, and to each name adds a word or two by way of description and estimate. He singles out Robert Winfield and Richard Weston—the two R.W.’s as we may call them—also Sarah Kirkland and John Benton. These memoranda must have been penned after 1818, when throat trouble brought John Benton’s labours to a close; for of him he says: “John Benton was for a considerable time a main staff.” The good staff had failed when these words were written. It is at the beginning of the same paragraph Hugh Bourne writes: “Mr. R. Weston had a main hand in the opening of Nottingham.” We see nothing in this statement that cannot be harmonised with what has already been written of the pioneer visit of R. Winfield and Sarah Kirkland to Nottingham. That account rests on the unimpeachable authority of Sarah Kirkland herself, and of George Herod, who was a youth at the time, living at East Bridgford, and a convert in the Revival of 1817.

There is no reason to doubt that Richard Weston was an early labourer and supporter of the cause in Nottingham. It was natural that he should be; for he had a brother living in Nottingham whose wife was “a zealous professor of religion,” and anxious that the Primitives should mission Nottingham. We have documentary evidence to show that R. Weston “laboured much and with success, at his own expense” during those early years. His name often recurs. His name stood fourth on the list on the Loughborough part of the Nottingham Plan for August-October, 1818, and he is planned to preach four Sundays that quarter at Leicester which had just come on the plan—at the bottom.

He was one of the trustees of Deadman Lane Chapel, Loughborough, and in the Deed signs himself : “Richard Weston, of Ramsor, Dissenting Minister.” So he had taken out his license that he might labour freely and gratuitously. All we know of him is creditable to his zeal, ability and loyalty. Neither Nottingham nor our Church should forget R.W. No 2. It was at Nottingham that R.W. No. 1 rather petulantly “downed tools” and separated from his brethren.

References

Primitive Methodist Magazine 1916/98

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