A response to the prominent Methodist historian David Hempton's call to analyse women's experience within Methodism, this book deals with British Methodist women preachers over the entire nineteenth century, with special emphasis on the Primitive Methodists and Bible Christians. The book covers women preachers in Wesley's lifetime, the reason why some Methodist sects allowed women to preach and others did not, and the experience of Bible Christian and Primitive Methodist female evangelists before 1850. It also describes the many other ways in which women supported their chapel communities. The second half of the book includes the careers of mid-century women revivalists, the opportunities, home and foreign missions offered for female evangelism, the emergence of deaconess evangelists and Sisters of the People in late century, and the brief revival of female itinerancy among the Bible Christians.
achievements, together with their education and class status,
ultimately contributed to women’s slow progress toward ordination in the
In his important book Methodism: Empire of the Spirit DavidHempton points out that, ‘Methodism was comprehensively shaped by
women in ways that we still do not fully understand.’ I hope that my work
contributes to this understanding, since I deal with what Hempton calls
the myriad ‘purveyors of hospitality, deaconesses, visitors, evangelists,
prayers, exhorters, testifiers, class members and leaders, and preachers’
Certainly in the majority of cases there was probably a gendered difference between men’s and women’s reasons for committing themselves to
Methodism. DavidHempton has identified a dialectical tension within
eighteenth-century Methodism between enthusiasm and enlightenment that ‘shows up as a disciplined commitment to self-improvement
combined with a fervent belief in divine intervention in daily life.’ This
combination of confessional discipline, individual empowerment and
divine promise, realized within Methodism through a common but
flexible organization on the one
self-interest’. 6 In this way, as DavidHempton remarks,
‘Methodism’s objective of forming an interdenominational
association of religious societies foundered on the rocks of Irish
sectarianism, and on its own upward social mobility’. 7 Responding but also
contributing to religious debate and competition in pre-Emancipation
Ireland, Methodism becomes, in Maturin’s text, a dangerously
DavidHempton and Myrtle Hill are among those who have emphasised the importance of transatlantic links – nourished by successive waves of emigration – to the development of evangelicalism
in Ireland, while Alan Acheson’s survey history of the Church of
Ireland notes the increasing sense of gloom in the post-disestablish8
ment church, particularly outside Ulster, as continued emigration
left many parishes with only scores of parishioners where there had
once been hundreds.41 Meanwhile
Nonconformist religion in nineteenth-century pacifism
, which contextualises the origins of the
Peace Society, see J. E. Cookson, The Friends of Peace: Anti-war Liberalism in England,
1793–1815 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982).
7 Brock, Nonsectarian Pacifism, pp. 21–3; W. H. van der Linden, The International
Peace Movement, 1815–1874 (Amsterdam: Tilleul Publications, 1987), pp. 4, 7–8.
8 Alan D. Gilbert, Religion and Society in Industrial England: Church, Chapel and Social
Change, 1740–1914 (London: Longman, 1976), pp. 34, 37–9, 63, 205. See also DavidHempton, ‘Religious life in industrial Britain’, in
Methodists exploited for their own benefit. The Welsh
Methodists’ involvement in what DavidHempton has recently called an ‘empire of the spirit’ 7 meant that they did not just benefit from British
imperial expansion almost by default but became, as much as any merchant, naval officer,
slave-trader or traditional cross-cultural missionary, some of its most active agents. This
essay, therefore, attempts to explore two closely related questions: it examines how some
eighteenth-century Welsh evangelicals took advantage of their involvement
, An Historical Essay upon the Loyalty of Presbyterians in Great-Britain and
Ireland from the Reformation to this Present Year 1713 ([Belfast], 1713).
10 For evangelicalism more generally, see DavidHempton and Myrtle Hill, Evangelical
Protestantism in Ulster Society 1740–1890 (London: Routledge, 1992); for Church of Ireland
writers, Hill, ‘Church of Ireland’, pp. 13–22.
11 Andrew R. Holmes, The Shaping of Ulster Presbyterian Belief and Practice, 1770 to 1840
(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006).
12 Robert Allen, James Seaton Reid: A Centenary Biography
Ibid. , 15 July 1894, p. 81.
DavidHempton & Myrtle Hill,
Evangelical Protestantism in Ulster Society
1740–1890 , London, 1992, p. 182. For a hard-hitting
rejection of the alleged link between Protestantism and the
participants in home and colonial missions. In this chapter I
therefore evaluate women’s work in three types of missions: at home; to
members of the English-speaking diasporas; and to non-Europeans, and
the changing opportunities for women within them.
Mission work, designed to save the souls of those who had not heard the
Christian message, was at the heart of Methodism from its beginning.
DavidHempton described Methodism as ‘a missionary organization that
thrived on mobility and expanded in association with the rise of markets
and the growth of empire.’11 In his mission