Questions have been raised in recent decades about the place of women in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, in church and society during a time of vast industrial change. These topics are broad, but can be seen in microcosm in one small area of the English Midlands: the parish of Madeley, Shropshire, in which Coalbrookdale became synonymous with the industrial age. Here, the evangelical Methodist clergyman John Fletcher (1729-1785) ministered between 1760 and 1785, among a population including Roman Catholics and Quakers, as well as people indifferent to religion. For nearly sixty years after his death, two women, Fletcher’s widow and later her protégé, had virtual charge of the parish, which became one of the last examples of Methodism within the Church of England.
Through examining this specific locality, with its potential for religious tension and great social significance, this multidisciplinary collection of essays engages with developing areas of research. In addition to furthering knowledge of Madeley parish and its relation to larger themes of religion, gender and industry in eighteenth-century Britain, the impact of the Fletchers in nineteenth-century American Methodism is examined.
Foreword by D. Bruce Hindmarsh
Introduction / Geordan Hammond and Peter S. Forsaith
1. Religion, Gender, and Industry in the Eighteenth Century: Models and Approaches / Jeremy Gregory
2. John Fletcher’s Parishioners: Reflections on Industrial Revolution and Evangelical Revival in the Severn Gorge / Barrie Trinder
3. John Fletcher’s Silent Bishop: Lord James Beauclerk of Hereford / William Gibson
4. Church and Chapel: Methodism as Church Extension / David R. Wilson
5. John Fletcher’s Links with Mystical Methodists and Swedenborgians / Peter James Lineham
6. “Adoring the Holy Trinity in Unity”: John Fletcher’s Doxological Trinitarianism / Kenneth M. Loyer
7. Women, Work, and Worship in the Trefeca Family 1752-1773 / Eryn M. White
8. Mothers in Christ: Mary Fletcher and the Women of Early Methodism / Brett C. McInelly
9. Support Groups for Methodist Women Preachers 1803-1851 / John H. Lenton
10. “Oh That the Mantle May Rest on Me!”: The Ministry of Mary Tooth / Carol Blessing
11. Holding Tightly to “the Promise of the Father”: Phoebe Palmer and the Legacy of the Fletchers of Madeley in Mid-Nineteenth-Century Methodism / Harold E. Raser
12. John Fletcher as the Theologian of Early American Methodism / Laurence W. Wood
13. The Long Fletcher Incumbency: A Personal View of the Context and Continuity / Peter S. Forsaith
List of Contributors
Endorsements and Reviews
Our understanding of eighteenth-century English industry, gender, and religion has been transformed during the last thirty years. The special merit of this symposium is to bring together researchers often pursuing their subjects in isolation. The conference producing these papers met, appropriately, in an area that saw industrial innovation, the ministry of the Methodist clergyman John Fletcher and his remarkable wife and female friends. This excellent collection sensitively illustrates the lives of working men, women, and believers and deserves to set the pattern for similar collaborations in future.
Henry Rack, Former Bishop Fraser Senior Lecturer in Ecclesiastical History, University of Manchester
What we actually have here is an interesting book that is mainly about religion and gender, with a focus on John and Mary Fletcher and their contributions to the growth of Methodism.
Michael Wheeler, in Church Times
This is quite a specialised book, intended for the serious student. However, it is far from being either dull or heavy-going, and the end result leaves the reader feeling that s/he was present throughout the conference … There is always a danger, of course, in generalising from the particular, but although these studies focus on a particular idea, the contributors allow their research to speak for itself, and therein lies the book’s basic integrity and undoubted excellence.
Barrie Tabraham, in The Journal of Ecclesiastical History, Vol 64, Issue 1
[Religion, Gender and Industry] adds considerably though to our general understanding of the contexts and influences that helped to shape the movement that became eighteenth century Evangelicalism. It is to this enterprise that the volume as a whole makes a substantial contribution well worth the cover price.
Mark Smith, in Wesley and Methodist Studies, Vol 5, 2013
… this volume is inherently interdisciplinary in its approach, and this is unquestionable one of its greatest strengths. … these essays are very useful for examining religion and gender in eighteenth-century England. … this will prove an important resource and a valuable addition to knowledge in this area.
Andrew Crome, University of Manchester, in Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies, Vol 37, Issue 1