Wesley, Samuel (1), Am

Wesley, Samuel (1), A.M.

an English Episcopal clergyman, son of John and grandson of Bartholomew Wesley, and father of John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, was born at Winterbourn Whitchurch, Dorsetshire, in 1662. He began his studies in the free-school in Dorchester, and at the age of fifteen went to an academy in London, where he remained, about three years. He was then transferred to the Stepney Academy, conducted by the learned Nonconformist Edward Veal. This academy being broken up at the end if two years, he was sent to the academy of Charles Morton at Newington Green, where he remained until the summer of 1683. During the entire period of his academical studies he was expected to enter the ministry of the Dissenters. He even wrote letters and satires against the Episcopal clergy under the advice of the Nonconformist ministers. His change to the Episcopal Church is thus accounted for in the words of his son, John Wesley: "Some severe invectives being written against the Dissenters, Mr. S. Wesley, being a young man of considerable talents, was pitched upon to answer them. This set him on a course of reading, which produced an effect very different from what had been intended. Instead of writing the wished for answer, he himself conceived he saw reason to change his opinions, and actually formed a resolution to renounce the Dissenters and attach himself to the Established Church. He lived at that time with his mother and an old aunt, both of whom were too strongly attached to the Dissenting doctrines to have borne with any patience the disclosure of his design. He therefore got up one morning at a very early hour, and, without acquainting any one of his purpose, set out on foot to Oxford, and entered himself at Exeter College." He entered as a servitor and pauper scholaris, and helped to support himself with his pen during the next five years, graduating June 19, 1688. Seven weeks after this time he was ordained deacon at Bromley by Dr. Sprat, bishop of Rochester. During the year immediately following his ordination he served a curacy at a salary of £28. He was then appointed chaplain on board a man-of-war at a salary of £70, and held the office one year, during which he began his Life of Christ. He was during the next two years incumbent of a curacy in London on a salary of £30, to which he added during the second year £30 by his pen. He then married Susannah, daughter of Dr. Samuel Annesley, an eminent Nonconformist divine. This occurred (probably) in the spring of 1689. In 1691 he was appointed to the living of South Ormsby in Lincolnshire, where she also acted as domestic chaplain to the marquis of Normanby. This nobleman desired Mr. Wesley to be raised to an Irish episcopate, but the plan was not favored either by the crown or archbishop Tillotson. Mr. Wesley remained at South Ormsby five years. About 1694 or 1695 the mansion which .had been occupied by the marquis of Normanby was rented to the earl of Castleton, who was a dissolute man; and, greatly to the disgust of the rector, kept mistresses who were thrown in contact with his family. The marquis was a man of similar habits, and an event occurred in the summer of 1696 which occasioned the removal of the rector to another place. It is thus related by John Wesley "The marquis of Normanby had a house in the parish of South Ormsby, where a woman who lived with him usually resided.. This lady would be intimate with my mother, whether she would or not. To such an' intercourse my father would not submit. Coming in one day, and finding this intrusive visitant sitting with my mother, he went up to her, took her by the hand, and very fairly handed her out. The nobleman resented the affront so outrageously as to make it necessary for my father to resign the living." In 1696, having dedicated his Life of Christ to queen Mary, he was presented by her with the living of Epworth, Lincolnshire, where he died, April 22, 1735. For four or five years he also had the rectory of Wroote, a little village near Epworth, which hardly paid his curate. In 1734 he resigned it to his son-in- law, John Whitelamb. Mr. Wesley was always poor in this world's goods. He had nineteen children, had to assist poor relations, including his widowed mother, met with many reverses, and never had more than £200 a year. He was a man of great learning, of large benevolence, loyal, devout, and conscientious in the exercise of the duties of his office. He is frequently mentioned as a Tory and a High Churchman, but he was no bigot. He rejoiced in the work done at Oxford by his sons John and Charles, which gained for them the name of Methodists and The Holy Club. He penned the following words Dec. 1, 1730 "I hear my son John has the honor of being styled the father of the Holy Club. If it be so, I must be the grandfather of it; and I need not say that I had rather any of my sons should be so dignified and distinguished than to have the title of His Holiness." He was a prolific writer. Among his works may be mentioned, a volume of poems called Maggots (1685): — The Life of Christ, an Heroic Poem (1693): — The Pious Communicant Rightly Prepared, etc. (1700): — History of the Old and New Testament (1701): — Dissertations on the Book of Job, in Latin: — and several excellent Hymns. He was one of the editors and chief contributor to the Athenian Gazette. See Tyerman, Life and Times of the Rev. Samuel Wesley; Clarke, The Wesley Family; Stevenson, Memorials of the Wesley Family; and the numerous Lives of John aid Charles Wesley.

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