Books, Prehistory, A History Of The Parishes of Minchinhampton and Avening

A History Of The Parishes of Minchinhampton and Avening is in Prehistory.

A History Of The Parishes Of Minchinhampton And Avening By Arthur Twisden Playne, B.A. Forsan et hoec olim meminisse juvabit. Virgil A. 1, 203. John Bellows, Eastgate, Gloucester 1915

Books, Prehistory, A History Of The Parishes of Minchinhampton and Avening, Chapter XIX Minchinhampton Common

George Whitefield was born at Gloucester, December 16th, 1714, the last year of the reign of Queen Anne. He was the youngest son of his father, who kept the Bell Inn at Gloucester, and who died when George was only two years old. He was educated at the College, and Crypt Grammar Schools, and between the years of 12 and 15 he made great progress in the Latin classics, early displaying that eloquence which so distinguished him in after life. At the age of 18 he went to Oxford, where he was "exposed to the society of the wicked."Fortunately he came under the influence of Charles Wesley, and he joined a society of Methodists. Having taken his degree, he was ordained by Bishop Benson, of Gloucester, and after staying some time in England, often preaching to enormous concourses of people, he paid his first visit to America in 1737, returning in the following year. In all he paid three visits to America, and ultimately died at Newbury Port, U.S.A., aged 56. In March, 1743, he writes in his diary: "Then I rode to Stroud and preached to about 12,000 people in Mrs. G.'s field, and about 6 in the evening to a like number on Hampton Common."No doubt he spoke from "Whitefield's Tump [Map]."The diary proceeds: "After this, went to Hampton and held a general love feast and went to bed about mid-night very cheerful and happy."In a letter written March 12, 1744, he says: "Wiltshire has been very remarkable for mobbing and abusing the Methodists, and for about 10 months past it has also prevailed very much in Gloucestershire, especially at Hampton, where Mr Adams has a house and has been much blessed to many people. About the beginning of July last they assembled in great numbers with a low bell and horn, broke the windows and mobbed the people to such a degree that many expected to be murdered and hid themselves in holes and corners. Once when I was there they continued from four till mid-night rioting, giving loud huzzas, casting dirt upon the hearers and declaring that none should preach there on pain of being put into a skin pit and afterwards into a brook. On the 10th July they came to the number of near 300, forced into Mr Adams' house and demanded him down the stairs whereon he was preaching, took him out of the house, threw him into a skin pit full of noisome things and stagnated water. One of our friends named Williams asked them "if they were not ashamed to use an innocent man so ? "They threw him into the same pit and dragged him along the kennel. Mr Adams quietly returned and betook himself to prayer, ex- horting the people to rejoice in suffering for the sake of the Gospel. In about half an hour they returned and led him away to a place called Bourne Brook and threw him in. A bystander rescued him but they threw him in again. After this there was no more preaching for some time, the people fearing to assemble on account of the violence of the mob."Thereupon an information was laid in the King's Bench against five of the rioters, and the trial was held at Gloucester Assizes. Of course, the other side gave a different account of the oc- currences, but the verdict was in favour of the Methodists. I do not find that any penalty was inflicted, and Whitefield says that they were only anxious to let them see what they could do, and then forgive them. No doubt the Methodists were maltreated in this case, as in others, but it must be remembered that we have the evidence of one side only and the accusations were stoutly denied by the defendants. Mr Adams, who at that time was at Minchinhampton, lived afterwards at Rod- borough, where he built and endowed the Tabernacle, "for the sole use and benefit of a certain society of people who pro- fess to be of the Calvinistic principles pursued and upheld by the late Rev. George Whitefield."

However much we may regret these persecutions of the Methodists, we must remember that the Clergy of the Es- tablished Church also suffered greatly during the Civil War and Commonwealth, and none more grievously than the Rev. Henry Fowler, the Rector of the same Parish in which the above events occurred. We may be thankful that we live in better and more enhghtened times, and that persecutions in the name of Religion have long ceased to exist.