Wednesbury between May 1743 and April 1744

“Elizabeth Lingham, a widow with five children, had her goods spoiled; her spinning wheel (the support of her family) broke, and her parish allowance reduced from 2s 6d. to 1 s 6d. a week.

Valentine Ambersly, collier, had his windows broke twice, his wife, big with c-hild, abused and beat with clubs.

Jos .. Stubs had his windows broke twice, and his wife so frighted that she miscarried.”‘

“James Yeoman of Walsal … came with a mob … and after they had broke all the windows; he took up a stone, and said,

‘Now; by G-, I will kill you.’ He threw it, and struck me on the side of the head. The blood gushed out, and I dropped down immediately.”

“My wife was going to Wednesbury, and a mob met her in the road, and threw her down several times, and abused her sadly.”

These were some of the acts inflicted upon Methodist women during the succession of anti-Methodist riots at Wednesbury and the neighboring towns of Walsall, Darlaston and West Bromwich between May 1743 and .March 1744.

Edward Eggington, the Vicar of Wednesbury, was responsible for the riots and has been reviled “as an unscrupulous man, committed, almost to the  point of obsession, to destroy a movement which threatened the cozy complacency of religious life in his parish.”

This verdict is in keeping with the standard Methodist interpretation of the persecutions endured by the early Methodist people who are regarded as having carried “the truth of God into quarters where it was unwel­come; and innocently provoked the hostility of men, who ought rather to repent in sack cloth and ashes.

Author CHARLES H. GOODWIN

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