Spa Fields Chapel Minutes: 1778-81

Pages 46-63

Two Calvinistic Methodist Chapels, 1743-1811: The London Tabernacle and Spa Fields Chapel. Originally published by London Record Society, London, 1975.

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(Cheshunt College, MS. D1/1)

108. Clerkenwell London June 1. 1778 (fn. 1)

At a meeting of the Society and others who attend the worship of Almighty God in the said chapel, it was proposed and resolved to open a subscription towards defraying the expence of the law-suit commenced against the Revd Messrs Taylor and Jones, and that a committee consisting of eleven or thirteen out of sixteen persons then nominated be appointed to receive subscriptions for that purpose.

Those of the committee who were then present agreed to meet at Mr Dupont's, the Castle and Falcon Inn, Aldersgate Street, on Wednesday evening the 3d instant and to send written notices to such as were not then present requesting their attendance.

109. June 3, 1778

At Mr Dupont's, Aldersgate Street. Present twelve of those who were nominated at the Society, viz.

Mr Matthew Smyth
Mr John Wollaston
Dr William Cooper
Mr Ralph Allen Mould
Mr James Baker
Mr James Oldham
Mr Thomas Jones
Mr Thomas Bingham
Mr James Carr
Mr William Sumner
Mr Isaac Mainwaring
Mr William Hodson
Chosen at the Society, but not present at Mr Dupont's
Mr Thomas Watherill
Greville Street
Holborn Bridge
Norfolk Street, Strand
Newgate Street
Brook Street, Holborn
Corner of ditto
Middle Row
Bridgewater Square
Clerkenwell Close
Rosoman Street
Vineyard Walk, Coldbathfields
Coldbath Square

110. Mr Manwaring in the chair


1. That a subscription be immediately opened by all present towards defraying the expence of the law-suit commenced against the Revd Messrs Taylor and Jones, ministers of the Gospel at Northampton Chapel.

2. That the aforementioned thirteen are a committee to receive subscriptions for the said purpose.

3. That Mr Matthew Smyth of Greville Street, Hatton Garden be treasurer to the committee.

4. That as often as any sum or sums (fn. 2) shall be received it shall be paid into the treasurer's hands, who is to be accountable to the committee for such sums only as he gives receipts for.

5. That the treasurer pay no drafts except signed by three of the committee.

6. That the committee meet in the vestry at Northampton Chapel on Friday evenings after service, any three of whom being met may proceed to business. (fn. 3)

111. [f. lr.] The Committee appointed by the Right Honourable Selina, Countess Dowager of Huntingdon, for conducting the affairs of her Ladyship's chapel in the Spa-field, Clerkenwell, known by the name of Northampton Chapel, January 25,1780.

Mr John Wollaston
Mr Benjamin Lyon
Mr James Oldham
Mr James Baker
Mr Thomas Watherill
Mr James Carr
Mr Morris Hughes
Mr Joseph Silver
Mr Mathias Dupont
Mr James Fidler
Mr William Astle
Mr William Hodson
Holborn Bridge
St John's Square
Brook Street
Coldbath Square
Bridgewater Square
Fetter Lane
Aldersgate Street
Turnmill Street
Pierpool Lane
Corporation Row

112. [f. 1v. blank. f. 2r.] Minutes of the proceedings of the committee for conducting the affairs of Northampton Chapel, Spa-field, London, 1780 Tuesday January 25

The whole committee (except Mr Dupont) met at Lady Huntingdon's house adjoining the chapel.

Agreed, to meet every Tuesday at the chapel-house at five o'clock in winter, and at half past five in summer.

Three members of the committee to constitute a board for the transaction of business.

Elected, Mr James Oldham, treasurer, Mr William Hodson, secretary.

Agreed, that the treasurer do place in the hands of a banker to be approved by the committee, all the sums of money received by him from time to time, reserving only so much as may be necessary to defray the current expences.

113. February 1 [1780]

Ordered a new set of books to keep the accounts of the chapel in.

Agreed, with Lady Huntingdon's permission, to make a collection for the poor who attend the worship of God in this chapel, both in the morning and the evening on Friday next, the 4th instant, being a day set apart by royal authority for a national fast.

114. [f. 2v.] February 8 [1780]

Relieved 48 distress'd petitioners with the money collected on the fast-day, being £25 14s. 1d. (fn. 4)

115. [February] 15th [1780]

All the members present except Mr Dupont. Settled the accounts of the Christmas quarter, which were audited by Mr Wills, who took an affectionate leave of the committee and Society this evening.

Resolved, with Lady Huntingdon's consent, to pay Messrs Mackenzie and Maberly one hundred pounds in part of the debt due to them on account of the chapel, as soon as so much money comes into the treasurer's hands.

116. [February] 22d [1780]

Nine members present. Absentees Messrs Silver, Baker and Dupont.

Agreed, that at each meeting of the committee one of the members preside as chairman (by rotation) to whom, for the sake of order and to avoid confusion, every member that speaks in any debate, or discussion of any matter before the committee, shall address himself. The members present to be all seated at the table during such debate or discussion, and the committee room kept clear of strangers.

Resolved, to augment the proposed payment to Messrs Mackenzie and Maberly, provided such advantage to the chapel can be obtained thereby, as the committee shall deem an object worth their attention.

Deputed Messrs Oldham and Hodson to wait on those gentlemen, and report to the committee what terms can be obtained on payment of half the £500.

117. [f. 3r.] 1780 February 29

All present except Messrs Silver and Dupont. Mr Wollaston in the chair.

Mr Oldham reported the substance of the conversation he and Mr Hodson had with Mr Mackenzie the preceding evening in which they did not come to any agreement, Mr Maberly being out of town. Proposed 400 guineas to Mr Mackenzie, half down and security for the remainder, and left him to consider of it.

Resolved not to make any payment till we have their answer to the above proposal.

Relieved several poor out of the sacrament money.

118. A petition to the Bishop of London having been recommended to Lady Huntingdon, the secretary read a draft of one which he had prepared, same was approved, ordered to be fairly transcribed on parchment, and the signatures to be obtained of as many inhabitants of the parish as chose to sign it.

Agreed to meet on Friday as well as Tuesday in the two following weeks for the delivery of tickets: and to meet every evening of the week preceding Sunday, March 26th, for the same purpose.

119. March 14 [1780]

Mr Mackenzie having sent an answer to the proposal made to him, same was read, and as he and Mr Maberly would not accept of a less sum than £460 in full payment of the £500 stipulated in the lease, it was agreed that an abatement of forty pounds was not such an object as to be attained with the inconvenience it must be attended with to those who should advance the money, considering [f. 3v.] the uncertainty of Lady Huntingdon's life, and the issue of the depending law-suit. It was therefore determined to pay off only one hundred pounds at present, and the rest at such times as the like sum can be spared out of the income of the chapel.

120. March 21 [1780]

Mr James Fisher, attorney, in Goulston Square, having a balance due to him from the Revd Messrs Jones and Taylor of £39 2s. 0d. on account of Mr Sellon's law-suit against them; and there being in the hands of the old committee appointed for raising money by subscription towards defraying the expences of that suit, £35 13s. 7d. which Mr Oldham was desired to take and to settle with Mr Fisher on the best terms he could for the interest of the chapel. Mr Oldham reported this evening that he had settled with Mr Fisher, whose receipt he produced, and who acted very generously on the occasion, for he not only accepted the £35 13s. 7d. in full of his bill, but also made a present of £11 13s. 7d. out of that sum to the use of Northampton Chapel, as a well-wisher to the cause of Christ carried on there.

Another attorney's bill, of a date prior to Mr Fisher's, was brought before the committee, but it was unanimously agreed that it did not come properly under our consideration to be paid out of the chapel money, and therefore was referred to the parties themselves on whom the charge falls.

121. [f. 4r.] March 28 [1780]

Relieved several poor.

Mr Oldham brought Mr Mackenzie's receipt for the hundred pounds paid him, out of which he was prevailed on to present five guineas for the use of the chapel.

122. April 4 [1780]

Paid salaries and bills due this quarter. Considered the expediency of having a vestry room for the use of the committee, either formed within the chapel, or erected adjoining to it; as the room we now occupy in the chapel house, being the dining-parlour, is frequently wanted for family use while the committee are transacting business in it. Mr Carr was desired to draw up a plan and estimate of the expence.

Resolved, that as the expences of the chapel are unavoidably great, it is incumbent on the committee to endeavour by all proper and prudent means in their power to diminish the same, towards which reduction, agreed to discharge two of the doorkeepers at midsummer next, there being now five, which number may be rendered unnecessary by opening only the front door for all persons to go in at.

123. [April] 11th [1780]

All the committee present but Mr Dupont.

Gave notice to Mr Holles and Mr Pocock, two of the doorkeepers, to quit at midsummer.

Mr Clark acquainted the committee he could not afford to pay for cleaning the chapel out of the salary he was allowed, which is £16 per annum, besides £6 6s. 0d. as a doorkeeper and that he and his wife were too old to do it themselves; therefore he chose to resign unless the committee would make an extra allowance for cleaning the chapel, which, as we can have the whole done for the same salary as he enjoys, and Mr Clark is disapproved of on account of his connection with the [f. 4v.] burying ground, we did not consent to. He therefore had notice to resign this day fortnight; and Mr Randle Jackson, recommended by Mr Hughes, and unanimously approved, undertook the whole of Mr Clark's business, viz., to open and shut the chapel, put in and take out the candles, light the branch and pulpit, blow the organ bellows, take care of the gallery pews, and besides sweeping and dusting the chapel constantly, to scour and wash it thoroughly once a month during the six summer months from April to September, and also to light the vestry fire as often as we have occasion, and to keep that clean, and to find mops and brushes, etc., all for the £22 6s. per annum. To commence the 25th instant when Mr Clark resigns.

124. Mr Taylor having signified his intention to quit the chapel house, and it being necessary a proper person should reside there to provide for the ministers, which Mrs Goodwin (Mr Taylor's mother) is willing to undertake, and is highly approved of for that office, both by Lady Huntingdon and the committee; it was proposed, after previous consultation with the Countess, to allow Mrs Goodwin £25 a quarter for the whole expence of the minister's table, together with their wives and servants if any, including wine, coals, candles and every other article, including also the board and wages of a maid servant and footboy in the house: the footboy not to be considered merely as the servant of Mrs Goodwin, but also as the servant of the chapel. Which proposal, after fair and open discussion, was unanimously agreed to.

125. Mr Carr laid before us two plans for a vestry, one within the chapel, the other without. The latter was adopted after considering the conveniences and inconveniences of both: chiefly because the great stairs must have been taken away to make the vestry within the chapel, which are of much use, both as affording room to many poor persons to [f. 5r.] stand or sit on, and also for people to come down out of the gallery when service is ended. Mr Carr was of opinion it might be done by contract for about 60 guineas.

Gave Mr John Coulson, a godly man, with a large family, well recommended, inhabitants of the parish of Clerkenwell, two guineas out of the sacrament money.

126. April 18 [1780]

Mr James Nokes of Fetter Lane signed a contract to build the intended vestry, together with a privy, for seventy pounds; though he declared he should not get anything, but rather be out of pocket by it.

127. [April] 25 [1780]

The first brick of the vestry was laid this morning. At the committee meeting in the evening distributed the charity money. (fn. 5) Discharged Mr Clark and took Mr Randle Jackson in his place, who besides the particulars mentioned in the minutes of 11th instant, agreed to keep the door of the gallery next the garden, if it should be found necessary to admit persons that way.

Mr Oldham reported the substance of a conversation that had passed between him and the bishop of London's steward relative to the petition mentioned in the minutes of February 29, which the bishop, having been made acquainted with, desired to see. The same being signed by 185 persons, all parishioners of Clerkenwell, Mr Oldham was desired to present it to his lordship.

Mrs Goodwin not having signified her acceptance of the terms proposed for the minister's board, etc., Mr Hodson was desired to enquire against the next committee night whether they were agreeable.

128. [f.5v.] 1780 May 2

Mr Oldham informed the committee that on Thursday last, April 27, he waited on the bishop of London with the petition, which his lordship was pleased to say he would consider with particular attention.

Mr Hodson reported that Mrs Goodwin declared herself very well satisfied to make trial for one year at the terms proposed.

129. June 20th [1780]

Resolved to pay for 100 of Lady Huntingdon's new hymn books out of the sacrament money, and distribute them to such of the stated hearers at the chapel as cannot afford to buy, giving a preference to those who have families.

Two large prayer books, two hymn books and some curtains having been stolen out of the chapel in the night between Sunday the 11th and Monday the 12th instant, and the committee receiving intelligence that two persons suspected of the robbery are in the New Prison, Mr Lyon (who is acquainted with Mr Bond the keeper) was desired to go to the prison and try to find out where the property is pawned or sold in order that it may be recovered.

130. [June] 27th [1780]

Opened the new vestry with prayer. Mr Wollaston began, next Mr Oldham, then the secretary. Most of the members present. Mr Wollaston moved that the chairman for the night begin each meeting with prayer. Agreed unanimously.

Mr Lyon reported that he had seen the persons, two mear boys, suspected of robbing the chapel, [f. 6r.] but they refused to give him any information. After society relieved several poor petitioners. Adjourned.

131. July 4 [1780]

The committee received a letter from Mr Ward, one of the subscribers to the chapel, expressing much dissatisfaction about the new hymn books, and wrote in a very angry style. The secretary was directed to write him a mild answer and request the favour of his attendance at the vestry on Friday or Tuesday next.

132. [July] 11 [1780]

Mr Ward came to the vestry, had some conversation with the members present and in conclusion declared himself well satisfied with the conduct of the committee, and acknowledged he had taken up the matter about the hymn books too hastily.

Two constables brought the books which had been stolen to know if the committee could identify them, and meant to prosecute; as one of the thieves had turned evidence, from whence it appeared that the four books had been sold to a pawnbroker in Turnmill Street for only four shillings. The committee, considering it was now become a matter of public notoriety, and that forbearance in this case would be inconsistent with their duty to the chapel and the public; resolved, in Lady Huntingdon's name, and by virtue of her general power of attorney given to the committee, to prosecute the culprit. No intelligence could be obtained of the curtains.

133. [f. 6v.] 1780 August 15

Agreed to write a letter to Lady Huntingdon on the near approach of her birth-day and the anniversary association at the college in Wales, where her Ladyship now is. Desired the secretary to prepare one against next committee-night.

134. [August] 22d [1780]

The secretary brought a letter he had wrote in the name of the committee to the Countess of Huntingdon, which, being approved, was signed by all the members present (eight in number) and addressed to her Ladyship at Haye, South Wales.

The secretary was desired to write to John Lloyd esqr., one of the Bath committee, on the behalf of Elizabeth Hiorns, a poor young woman who had lost the use of her hands by a paralytic disorder, and having tried electricity (fn. 6) and other means without effect, was strongly recommended to try the Bath waters, which she can no otherwise come at the benefit of but by getting into the Bath Hospital.

135. Friday 25th [August, 1780]

The letter to Mr Lloyd being produced by the secretary, read and approved, was signed by the members present and sent per post.

Mr Jackson said as there was no footboy kept at the chapel house now, he should want some assistance for lighting the pulpit and area as he could not with [f. 7r.] propriety leave his station in the gallery, without substituting someone in his place. It was proposed in consideration of the premises, and of the additional trouble Mr Jackson has in taking care of the cushions etc., to allow him 10s. 6d. a quarter for the assistance of his apprentice, during the time there is no footman or boy kept at the chapel-house.

136. Tuesday 29th [August 1780]

Agreed to the above proposal for allowing Mr Jackson 10s. 6d. per quarter, which he accepts of on the terms abovementioned.

Received an obliging answer from the Countess to our letter of the 22d instant, wherein had the pleasure to hear she is in good health and spirits; and that the Lord's work prospers in various parts of the country.

Relieved several poor.

137. September 5 [1780]

Mr Wills (who came to town the 1st instant succeeding Mr Glasscott who had been with us 11 weeks) read this evening to the society a long letter he had received from Wales, giving a very animating account of the association of ministers and many thousands of private Christians at my Lady's college in Wales, on Tuesday and Wednesday the 22d and 23d instant.

138. [f. 7v.] October 3d [1780]

The register (fn. 7) of the Bath Hospital having informed us there was a vacancy for Elizabeth Hiorns, we gave her £3 caution money (which is to be returned when she is discharged) and £14s. 0d. to bear her expences, and she went down and was admitted.

139. Wednesday October 11th [1780]

At a special meeting of the committee in the vestry, summoned for that purpose, Mr Wills examined all the accounts of the committee from our appointment to the present time, and inspected the vouchers. All the members present except Mr Wollaston and Mr Baker.

140. Tuesday October 17 [1780]

The members present, being 8 in number, waited on Lady Huntingdon (who arrived in town the 10th instant) and obtained her permission for a half yearly collection to be made in the chapel towards defraying the expences thereof, and paying off the debt due to Messrs Mackenzie and Maberly.

141. Sunday November 26 [1780]

Two collections made for the expences of the chapel, one in the morning and one in the evening, which with a trifle sent in afterwards amounted to £83 6s. 6d.

142. [f. 8r.] 1781 April 3d

Discharged Mr Miller the doorkeeper, his conduct being not altogether agreeable to the committee or several of the congregation; and engaged in his place Mr John Russell of Baldwins Gardens, a young man recommended by and well known to Mr Oldham and Mr Hughes.

Mr Glascot came into the committee room, told us he was apprehensive he should be silenced the ensuing term, and expressed a desire that some proposal might be made to Mr Sellon, in order if possible to effect an accomodation.

Informed us also that a gown and cassock are wanted for the use of the chapel, Mr Taylor's having been used hitherto. Agreed to purchase a gown and cassock, and also a student's gown to be worn by the minister or student who meets the society.

143. [April] 17th [1781]

Mr Oldham having, pursuant to a resolution of the committee, had an interview with Mr Sellon, to see whether he was disposed to come to an accomodation with respect to the chapel on any reasonable terms; but finding him inflexible in his demands, still insisting on an unlimited right to the pulpit, which he declared he could not give up; it was judged expedient and necessary to inform Lady Huntingdon, to whom the secretary, by direction of the committee, wrote the following letter, viz.

144. [f. 8v.] London, April 19 1781

Honoured and much respected Lady,

Unwilling as we are to disturb your tranquility or hasten your return to town sooner than your Ladyship intended, the situation of affairs here seems to render your presence absolutely necessary, as we have the greatest reason to believe Mr Glascot will be silenced the ensuing term which begins 2 May. Mr Sellon has been sounded and continues inflexible still, insisting on his first demands which we conceive neither can nor ought to be complied with. Your Ladyship will feel the importance of this event, which we have no doubt will certainly take place from the intelligence we have received; and we trust you will be directed by unerring wisdom how to act in a matter of such moment. An immediate secession appears to us the only resort from those severities of ecclesiastical law which deprive us of one valuable and esteemed minister after another and will incessantly be employed against every one who shall venture to come amongst us under the establishment.

We beg to be favoured with a line from your Ladyship in reply, and shall be happy to hear you intend soon to be with us, who are,

My Lady, Your Ladyship's faithfull and devoted servants in the best of causes,

Signed by order of the committee of Spa-field chapel

William Hodson, secretary. (fn. 8)

145. [f. 9r.] To the foregoing letter Lady Huntingdon returned a speedy answer, purporting that Mr Glasscot should go immediately to Cambridge and there declare his dissent from the Church of England, which however he declined, being unwilling to be single in his secession, and finding the cause depending in the bishop's court might be protracted for another term.

146. April 29th [1781]

Mr Piercy, lately returned from America, preached in the chapel both morning and evening on Exodus 14.13. (fn. 9)

147. May 6 [1781]

Mr Glasscot took leave and a few days after set out for Bath.

The committee finding that Mr Piercy was about to bring his family to the chapel-house, that he wanted an assistant to read prayers, and Mrs Goodwin was desirous to resign the fatigue of housekeeping, thought it necessary to give Lady Huntingdon another letter. Accordingly the secretary wrote her the following:

148. London, May 12 1781

Honoured and highly esteemed Lady,

We received your Ladyship's kind favour in answer to our last and in consequence of it had a long conversation with Mr Glasscot, particulars of which he will relate to you. As we are not flattered with the expectation of seeing your Ladyship for some time, the concerns of Spa-field chapel, which by your Ladyship's choice are entrusted to our management, and which it is our hearty desire and prayer we may be directed to manage aright, occasion us to trouble you with our sentiments on several matters which we conceive of importance and wherein we wish your Ladyship's concurrence.

[f. 9v.] A deputation from the committee has waited on Mr Sellon who says it is not in his power to make any concessions or agree to any terms but those of an absolute right to and authority over the chapel as a chapel of ease to the parish of Clerkenwell. There remaining therefore not the least prospect of an accomodation with him, your Ladyship and the ministers will consider whether any other alternative is left than an immediate secession. And with respect to the practicability of seceding we have taken the opinion of Counsellor Bearcroft, which is decidedly that no law in being prohibits a clergyman from dissenting if there is any thing in the injunctions of the Church which he declares he cannot in conscience comply with. A declaration which we believe both Mr Wills and Mr Glasscott can make with the strictest truth.

149. We beg also to recommend to your Ladyship's serious consideration the very great expence at which this chapel is supported and the necessity of adopting every possible plan of oeconomy in order to bring the disbursements within the income of the chapel. For this end we wish your Ladyship could ease us of Mr Taylor's salary, and let him receive it of the Tunbridge congregation. It is such a weight upon us that while it remains there is little probability of our paying off the £400 debt of which £100 is due next Christmas. Our treasurer is almost always in advance on the chapel account, and is at this moment near £40 out of pocket, although Lady day has been a good quarter, and we can never hope better subscriptions, but shall think it well if they keep up to what they are at present. Your Ladyship has seen by last year's account which was transmitted to you, what a sum the rent and taxes, housekeeping and traveling charges, servants' salaries and other current expences annually amount, and also how much the income falls short of the ideas generally entertained. While therefore [f. 10r.] we are loaded with the additional burthen of Mr Taylor's £100 per annum, the aforesaid debt, which is an object of real magnitude and the interest whereof swells our annual expence, is not likely to be discharged. Nor does it appear to us that the chapel will ever be able to support itself in a desirable manner till that debt with its attendant interest is got rid of.

150. It has long been our wish to be on some settled footing respecting the minister's board, which while we defray the general charges of housekeeping is an uncertain expence and perhaps not so agreeable to the ministers themselves as a fixed allowance in money during the time they are respectively with us. With your Ladyship's permission we propose to allow the ministers one with another in succession as they come 2 guineas per week for their board, and for us to be at no expence of housekeeping whatever. Mr Piercy accedes to our proposal, with this addition, that we pay the wages of a maid servant who must be kept in the house, but the minister to find her all other necessaries out of their stipend.

Mr Piercy we learn is bringing his family to the chapelhouse, on which occasion it will be mutually to the satisfaction both of him and Mrs Goodwin that the latter retire. But Mr Taylor being desirous of having his furniture, linen, etc. sent down to Tunbridge, there will be a want of such things at the chapelhouse, unless your Ladyship has furniture at Tunbridge which may be sent up in lieu of Mr Taylor's.

Another thing which claims your Ladyship's attention is the expediency of appointing a reader—Mr Piercy already complains as Mr Wills did before him, that to read prayers and preach is more than they are well able to go through. And we think it would be [f. 10v.] acceptable to the congregation as well as the ministers to have one of your Ladyship's approved students who has a good voice and reads well, constantly to read prayers: and if your Ladyship relieves us from Mr Taylor's salary we think we can allow £50 a year for that service. Mr Latless from the Mulberry Garden officiated last night, but we are persuaded your Ladyship can give us a much more agreeable reader than him, if you approve of having one.

151. We hope your Ladyship enjoys the blessing of health and much of the Lord's presence. It will add to your happiness to be informed that the servants of God do not labour in vain in this chapel. A divine power accompanies the Word, and we trust ever will while the glory of our adorable Redeemer and the spread of his gospel is sincerely aimed at. May all the ministers that ever ascend this pulpit be single eyed! We entreat your Ladyship's prayers for us, that we may be found faithful, zealous, fervent, devoted to God and guided by the spirit of wisdom and understanding in what your Ladyship has committed to our care. Waiting your Ladyship's answer which shall be glad to be favoured with as soon as possible, we remain,

Honoured Lady, Your Ladyship's sincere and obedient humble servants,

Signed by order of the committee: William Hodson, secretary.

152. [f. 11r.] To the foregoing letter we received an answer dated May 16th passing over in silence the affair of the ministers' secession, informing us that Mr Taylor could not be provided for at Tunbridge owing to the poverty of the people, that her Ladyship was the only responsible person for the chapel debt and all deficiencies, that the proposed allowance for the minister's board met her approbation, but that the establishment of a reader was without an example throughout her Ladyship's Connection, and that Mr Piercy was to be at the chapel house with his family only till they could be settled at Norwich or elsewhere.

153. Tuesday May 22 [1781]

All the committee present except Mr Silver and Mr Fidler. Read and considered the abovementioned letter from her Ladyship in answer to ours. Resolved, that it did not require a reply—that Mr Taylor's salary continuing fixed upon this chapel we could not think of paying a reader; that the affair of the ministers seceding must be left to them and her Ladyship, we having discharged our duty in communicating Mr Sellon's determination; and with respect to the debt, we must reduce it as fast as the subscriptions, and a yearly collection (or two if judged necessary), would enable us.

Mrs Goodwin brought in her bill for housekeeping to the 21st instant, from which day the new regulation of allowing 2 guineas per week and paying the wages of a maid servant, takes place.

154. Friday May 25 [1781]

Received from Lady Huntingdon a copper plate of a universal admission ticket, for the subscribers to any one of her Ladyship's chapels to be admitted into any of the others.

155. [f. 11v.] 1781 Tuesday May 29

Considered the affair of the universal admission tickets, which are likely to prove detrimental to the income of the chapel, especially if those from the Mulberry Garden are admitted here. To prevent which, if possible, it was agreed, that four or five members of our committee should go to the Mulberry Garden on Thursday evening next, and agree with that committee (if they are willing) that neither their tickets should be admitted at our chapel, nor ours at theirs.

156. Thursday May 31st [1781]

Messrs Dupont, Hughes and Hodson went to the Mulberry Garden, and saw there three or four gentlemen of that committee, who saw at once the inconvenience of a mutual admission of tickets to the two chapels, and coincided with us in opinion that the universal tickets should only be given to such of our respective subscribers as were going into the country.

Saw the Revd Mr Taylor at Mr Wontner's in the Minories, who told us he believed he should not receive his salary from us after midsummer next, as he thought he should be fixt at Norwich.

157. Tuesday July 31st [1781]

All the committee present except Mr Carr. It having been represented to us that there was an appearance of an improper and unbecoming familiarity between Mr Browne, a married man, and Mrs Hanna, a married woman, both stated hearers at the chapel; and the latter having been relieved by the committee in distress; we judged it incumbent on us to enquire into the affair: and this evening both parties came to the committee room, where after a full investigation there did not appear to have been any criminal connection; but as their sitting together and going home together gave offence to several of the congregation, they were desired, and promised, to avoid the same in future.

158. [f. 12r.] Copy of a letter from the committee to Lady Huntingdon dated August 9th 1781.

Honoured Madam,

Your letter to the congregation of Spa-field chapel was read both morning and evening on Sunday sennight, and agreeably to the direction of your Ladyship we made two collections last Sunday for the ministers' traveling fund. Mr Shirley preached in the morning on Psalm 110, 3. We should have made a better figure if Mr Piercy had filled up one part of the day: however the whole collection amounted to £87 16s. 7d., which was really more than we expected. When we receive your Ladyship's £50 we shall open a book beginning with that donation and putting our collection under it, and shall keep a regular account of all receipts and disbursements distinct from the chapel accounts. (fn. 10) Mr Piercy has already had 25 guineas towards his traveling charges to set out with. May God give a rich and abundant blessing to all their labours! And may your Ladyship be made exceeding joyful by good news from all quarters of the success attending the gospel of the grace of God published to poor lost perishing sinners!

159. It is our duty to inform your Ladyship that an universal dissatisfaction prevails amongst the people respecting Mr Phillips, who is no doubt an honest and gracious soul, but is not adapted for this place. Some persons who took tickets at midsummer for the sake of hearing Mr Piercy complain loudly at his being almost instantly removed; and severely censure your committee on that account: and others are frequently enquiring when they shall have their old friends Mr Wills and Mr Glascott again. In short, my Lady, we see plainly that none but first rate ministers will keep up the congregations at this chapel: and if the congregations decline we can have no prospect of paying the heavy expences, much less of getting rid of the debt. [f. 12v.] We have been under the necessity of providing a supply of sheets, table linen, etc. for the chapel house, Mr Taylor having taken his away.

160. Mr Phillips has perhaps acquainted your Ladyship that some villains got into the house on Saturday night or Sunday morning last and broke open Lady Ann's bureau. (fn. 11) We hope they found no great booty. Before this happened we were thinking that as there is now only Mr Phillips and the maid in the house it might be very proper for Mr Hughes to sleep there: and with your Ladyship's consent he is willing to remove his furniture and become a resident there, and to bring his library (which is no contemptible one) for the use of the ministers and students: which, as Mr Taylor intends taking his away, will be very serviceable.

Hoping your Ladyship is blest with health and happy in the Lord, and that ere long we shall be favored with a visit from you, we remain, with our affectionate wishes and fervent prayers for your Ladyship and that glorious cause so evidently dear to you,

Honoured Madam, Your Ladyships faithful and devoted servants,

Signed by order of the committee of Spa-field chapel

William Hodson, secretary.

161. [f. 13r.] Copy of a letter to Lady Huntingdon, September 4 1781.

Honoured Madam,

We beg your Ladyship to accept our cordial thanks for your very kind and immediate attention to the subject of our last. Mr Rowlands is above all commendation. We cannot describe the life, the fervor, the glowing zeal for the interest of his divine master, and the tender concern for the salvation of poor sinners, that breathe through all his ministry. The people love him. And for them as well as ourselves we have to request his stay here may be prolonged as much as possible, hoping and trusting his awakening and searching manner may be rendered by the divine spirit very effectual in the conviction and conversion of sinners; and his close and lively application to the consciences of God's own people be a means of rousing us up from a lethargic and lukewarm state, and reviving in our souls the almost extinguished flame of holy love and ardent zeal. We trust some of our hearts have been a little warmed already. O for more of the sacred fire! And may it be very spreading amongst us.

Mr Hughes has begun his residence at the chapel house, but by no means to the exclusion of your Ladyship, whose return will be truly welcome and acceptable to him and all of us. He will endeavour to make every thing agreeable and comfortable to Mr Rowlands and those who succeed him. Your Ladyship's care for a gown and a scarf we had anticipated, having bought them for the use of the ministers officiating here, and a student's gown for the Tuesday evenings.

162. We are sorry for poor Hayes. He shall have every encouragement in our power. He spoke one Monday evening, since which we have not seen him. [f. 13v.] The welch sermon is given out for next Sunday at this chapel which is more central than that at the Mulberry Gardens and will contain a greater number: and as it is to be at half past 2 it will not deprive us of our evening service.

We forgot to mention in our last that the guinea we paid some time ago for your servant's tax is returned, and must be paid at the nearest excise office to your Ladyship's present residence agreeable to the last regulation of parliament. If not already paid your Ladyship should not delay as there is a considerable penalty for omission.

Mr Oldham has been extremely ill with a fever, and is now but poorly, though we hope out of danger.

We shall be happy to celebrate a jubilee here—indeed we have abundant cause—and may God make it a blessed season to us all!

It will be time enough to give your Ladyship the bill of the linen when we have the pleasure to see you, till when we remain, praying the choicest of blessings may ever rest on your Ladyship,

Honoured Madam, Your Ladyship's obliged and ready servants in the best of causes,

Signed by order of the Committee: William Hodson, secretary.

163. [f. 14r.] Copy of a letter to Lady Huntingdon, September 24 1781. Honoured Madam,

We received your Ladyship's kind favour of 11th instant and acknowledge our obligation both to you and Mr Rowlands for the addition of a week to his labours here. Sunday last we had a very full chapel three times: in the afternoon was a second welsh sermon honoured with the presence of the Lord Mayor, Sir Watkin Lewes, (fn. 12) and a collection was made for the welsh charity school, (fn. 13) amounting to £20 1s. 7d. for which the gentlemen belonging to the charity thought themselves much obliged to your Ladyship and Mr Rowlands—and we hope as there were many strangers, it will not materially affect our winter collection for the chapel.

We are happy that Lord George Gordon's declining to stand a candidate for the city will relieve your Ladyship from many fears and cares; (fn. 14) and are quite of your Ladyship's mind that the pulpit ought ever to be kept sacred for the Lord's services and politicks totally excluded.

Your Ladyship knows that state of our finances and the great current expence, which prevents us doing all we would; nevertheless we have determined to present Mr R[owlands] 15 guineas over and above the weekly stipend for housekeeping, and hope that will both be acceptable to him and meet your Ladyship's approbation.

164. We understand dear Mr Wills comes next. He is a welcome messenger and sweetly sounds the gospel trumpet. May the sound of his divine master's feet be behind him, and may he come in the fulness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ! Mr Jones of Langan we doubt not from the character we have heard of him will be very acceptable, and your Ladyship's zealous care to secure us a supply of the most able, spiritual, lively ministers demands our thankful acknowledgments. Glory be to God there are so many upright faithful and disinterested who are engaged in your extensive work. From what quarter offers [f. 14v.] are making to draw any of them off we don't know, or with what views; but your Ladyship knows where to cast all your cares; that blessed redeemer whose cause and interest you labour to promote will never let you want such ministers as are devoted to his service.

We heard of your Ladyship's receiving some hurt by a fall, hope it was but slight and is now perfectly recovered.

The committee of the Mulberry-gardens have paid into our hands £24 2s. 6d. which was the amount of their collection for the traveling fund. We have not yet received any thing from any other congregation.

We presume your Ladyship has been made acquainted with a legacy of £500 having been lately bequeathed you. The executors would have paid it to Mr Oldham, but he did not conceive himself properly qualified to receive it. Hoping we shall have a happy meeting in November or sooner we remain.

165. To Mr Glascott, October 1 1781.

Reverend and dear Sir,

We have your favour of 27th ultimo addressed to Mr Hughes agreeably to which we fully expect you against next Sunday if God permit, and hope nothing will prevent you or Mr Wills, and if you should be detained it will be a great disappointment to them and not less so to, reverend and dear sir,

Your truly affectionate friends and servants in the cause of Christ.

166. [f. 15r.] To Mr Wills, October 11 1781.

Reverend and very dear Sir,

We were taught to expect that you would have succeeded Mr Rowlands and were very sorry you was prevented and that it was owing to Mrs Wills's indisposition: hope that cause is now removed, and as you see by Mr Glascott's letter of which the annexed is a copy that we have no prospect of his assistance yet a while, and Mr Owens intends to continue with us only one Lord's day more, we entreat and hope you will be able to manage matters so as to be with us by tomorrow se'nnight, and that your stay in London will not be short, for be assured your ministry is acceptable, and has been much owned of God, who we trust will bring you again in the fulness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ. We shall be very happy to see you, mean time we remain.

167. To Lady Huntingdon, October 13 1781.

Tho' your Ladyship, having been so many years in the school of the cross, can be no stranger to disappointment, we are very sorry, and Mr Oldham in particular, to have given your Ladyship wrong information respecting the £500 legacy. The mistake originated with Mr Wainwright of Hackney, who did say to Mr Oldham, or was understood to say, that he had £500 to pay to your Ladyship, whereas on enquiry it turns out a false idea, and refers only to an event long since past, namely to a legacy of £500 stock bequeathed to your Ladyship by a Mrs Ann Powell and transferred by Mr Wainwright to Mr Lloyd of Bath for your Ladyship near two years ago.

168. We have received a letter from Mr Glascott which proves a great disappointment to us, as we are thereby given to understand we are not to expect him at least for a considerable time. A copy of it by his request is gone [f. 15v.] to Brighthelmstone, (fn. 15) accompanied by a line from us to Mr Wills who we hope has already received your Ladyship's permission to come in the place of Mr Owens, whose stay we find is to be very short amongst us, we believe no longer than till next week.

Happy, my Lady, for us all, that we have a kind and faithful friend above, who will not disappoint the hope and expectation wrought by his own spirit in the hearts of his people! To him commending you and requesting an interest in your prayers, we remain.

169. To Lady Huntingdon, December 22 1781.

Honoured Madam,

We flattered ourselves with the expectation of seeing your Ladyship the last or present month, which would have given us much pleasure, and we believe your presence might have been in several respects very useful. As we are deprived of that satisfaction it is incumbent on us to inform your Ladyship that in order to pay off the second £100 to Messrs Mackenzie and Maberly we made two collections on Sunday the 9th instant, the amount of which fell short of our expectations, being only £68 5s. 3d. including 2 guineas presented by those gentlemen: however as the diminution of the annual expence is an object we have much at heart we have paid the said £100 tho' it has drained us of all our cash and incroached a few pounds on our treasurer.

It is with real concern we hear Mr Sellon perseveres in prosecuting our dear ministers and has so far succeeded as to silence that faithful and upright man of God, Mr Glascott, whose ministry was so much blest to this congregation, and whose loss will be greatly regretted. We have reason to apprehend he will soon begin with Mr Wills or Mr [f. 16r.] Piercy, perhaps both together; and it may be Mr Shirley and Mr Owens all at the same time. This deprivation of our ministers is a very affecting and serious matter, and on this account chiefly we ardently wish to see your Ladyship in town, that if it were possible some plan might be hit upon to prevent Mr S[ellon] proceeding any further. Mr P[iercy] is a great preacher and faithful to the souls of his hearers: to be bereaved of him, or the beloved and affectionate Mr Wills would be very sensibly felt and much lamented by the congregation in general.

170. Mr Manwaring claims a promise from your Ladyship of a sermon for the benefit of the dispensary lately established in his neighbourhood, and desired we would write your Ladyship to know when it would be agreeable to you to grant that favour. If your Ladyship has made a promise we can't desire you to retract it, but we fear frequent collections will disgust the people.

Mr Hughes has quitted the chapel house, where his residence was in some respects inconvenient and not quite agreeable: and it is our desire always to consult the domestic peace and happiness of those who minister to us in holy things.

Your committee is likely to sustain the loss of a very worthy member, dear Mr Wollaston, who seems apparently drawing near the land of light. May the Lord long preserve your Ladyship and greatly prosper the blessed work committed to your care, So prays, etc.

171. Sunday December 23d. [1781]

Mr Wollaston our worthy brother died, and was buried on Saturday the 29th at Tottenham Court chapel. All the committee attended his funeral. (fn. 16)


  • 1. The first two folios of Cheshunt MS. D1/2 give a few earlier minutes than those in MS. D1/1, and these are inserted here in the correct chronological order. The rest of MS. D1/2 contains chapel accounts from 1778 to 1805.
  • 2. 'any sum or sums' is substituted for 'twenty pounds'.
  • 3. No further minutes were kept until 25 Jan. 1780 when Cheshunt MS. D1/1 begins.
  • 4. Detailed accounts can be found in Cheshunt MS. D1/3, ff. 1-3.
  • 5. These, and subsequent payments, are detailed in Cheshunt MS. D1/3.
  • 6. Some of the early Methodists experimented with electric shock treatment. Howell Harris's equipment still survives at Trevecka.
  • 7. i.e. registrar.
  • 8. The original of this letter is Cheshunt MS. E4/10, 13.
  • 9. Piercy went to Georgia in 1773 to run Bethesda, which the Countess had inherited from George Whitefield. During the War of Independence he fled to the West Indies and did not return to England until March 1781, when he quarrelled with the Countess (Cheshunt MS. A4).
  • 10. A copy of the travelling fund accounts can be found in Cheshunt MS. E4/15,2, signed by William Hodson.
  • 11. Lady Anne Erskine was the Countess' companion in later life and succeeded her as head of the Connexion.
  • 12. Sir Watkin Lewes was the son of a Pembrokeshire clergyman and became a lawyer. He was also M.P. for the City.
  • 13. Rev. Griffith Jones founded the Welsh circulating schools in 1737 to instruct children and adults in reading the Bible in Welsh. They were maintained chiefly by subscriptions.
  • 14. In the previous year Lord George Gordon had presented his Protestant petition to Parliament, which had led to the No-Popery Riots in London.
  • 15. i.e. Brighton.
  • 16. Tottenham Court chapel was founded by Whitefield in 1756.