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The Wesleyan Methodist Twentieth Century Fund

from The Barwicker No. 74
June 2004

T We are grateful to Joyce Hidden of Frinton-in-Sea, a member of the Collett family of Barwick (see 'the Barwicker' No.46) for supplying us with information about events concerning some Methodists in the area at the beginning of the last century. This is contained in a cutting from 'The Family Tree Magazine' of August 2003 by Richard Ratcliffe entitled 'The Wesleyan Methodist Historic Roll'. He traces the breaking up of the Methodist church in the early years of the 19th. century into a number of groups and their re-union in 1932 to form the Methodist church of today. His article continues:

"During this period of fragmentation the Wesleyan Church was, by some distance, the largest Methodist group. In 1897 Reginald Perks, MP for Louth in Lincolnshire, proposed the setting up of a 'One Million Guinea Fund' - 1.1s. (1.05) from each of the one million Wesleyans - to purchase a site in central London to build a world centre of Wesleyan Methodism and to expand the mission of the Wesleyan Church at home and overseas.

On 8 November, 1898, the One Million Guinea Fund (also known as the Wesleyan Methodist Twentieth Century Fund) was officially launched at Wesley's Chapel in City Road, London. No-one was allowed to donate more than one guinea, but a donation could also be made 'in memoriam' in the name of a loved one who had died or who had emigrated. Sunday School scholars were encouraged to contribute one shilling each.

The fund-raising committee decided to ask all donors to write their names and addresses on special pages which were distributed to all churches and circuits (groups of churches) in the Wesleyan Church in England, Wales, Scotland and overseas. The overseas circuits included India, China, Hong Kong, South Africa and Gibraltar. When the pages were returned they were bound into 50 volumes which were called the Historic Roll. The volumes were arranged by district, then by circuit and church within each district. Altogether the volumes comprise over 17,000 pages containing the names of over 1,025,000 donors."

The fund finally closed in 1908 by which time 1073,682 had been donated. The construction of the Westmister Wesleyan Central Hall was begun in 1909. After payment of the cost of building, about 700,000 was left and was used to help build or enlarge Wesleyan chapels and Sunday schools in the British Isles and to send more missionaries overseas. One recipient of the fund was on our doorstep. When the Barwick Wesleyan Chapel was opened in 1900, the cost of building required the taking out of a loan of 1000. A grant of 500 from the above Twentieth Century Fund, and further donations, allowed the trustees to close the account in 1907.

When Westminster Hall was opened in 1912, the 50 volumes of the 'Historic Roll'' were made available for inspection by visitors. In 2002, the trustees had the rolls copied onto microfiche, which can now be easily accessed at the Hall or purchased by individual churches, circuits or districts.

A copy of a list of donors from the Padiham Wesley circuit of the Bolton district is contained in the article. Not only does it give the names but also addresses, years of death for the 'in memorium' entries and even some family relations. This would have been of great help to family historians especially as the 1901 census was not available until a century later. Joyce has kindly photocopied for us the handwritten entries for the Leeds Brunswick circuit covering Thorner, Scholes and Barwick. Unfortunately these local lists do not contain the depth of detail shown in the Padiham entries.

There are 31 names on the Scholes Chapel list, of whom 15 are 'in memorium' entries labelled I.O.M. All are listed as of 'Scholes' except for those whose place of abode is included here. The list is headed by members of the Crosland family (of Scholes Lodge Farm. Ed.). They are:

  • Thomas (I.O.M.)
  • Ruth (I.O.M.)
  • Thomas
  • Jennet(I.O.M.)
  • John
  • Elizabeth
  • Ruth.

  • Members of families related to the Croslands are:

  • Joshua (I.O.M. of Barnbow) and Jane Furniss
  • Jane I.O.M.) and John Dixon (of Cross Gates)
  • George, Rose and John Thomas Thompson
  • Elizabeth Kemp I.O.M. of Hayton House, Aberford)

  • Prominent on the list are members of the Gray family recorded as of Morwick Hall, Scholes, except as indicated. They are:

  • Edward Thomas (I.O.M.)
  • Elizabeth
  • Eleanor (I.O.M.)
  • John S. (I.O.M.)
  • Betsy (address illegible)
  • Betty H. Gray (I.O.M.)

  • The others on the Scholes Chapel list are:
  • Henry H Abbott
  • James (I.O.M.) and (?) Upton (I.O.M.)
  • George Tilney (I.O.M.)
  • Ellen Standen
  • Mary, Elizabeth and Charles Goodall
  • Sarah Jane Burnete
  • Miss Hardon (Hastings)
  • Hannah Walmsley (Barnbow)
  • and AR Greenwood (Thorner)

  • There are 16 names on the Barwick Chapel list with no details except that they are all recorded as of Barwick-in-Elmet. They are:

  • William and Caroline Gough
  • Phoebe Ann Prince
  • Florence Lawn
  • Sarah Hill
  • David and William Parker
  • Mary Baker
  • Willie, Frances Ann and Harold Morritt
  • Kate and Elizabeth Perkin
  • George Thomas Linder
  • Isaac Bedell
  • and William Jowett.

  • Copies of the article and the lists will be preserved in our resource centre for inspection. If any of our readers have information and/or photographs of any of the above we should be very grateful.

    (From material supplied by Joyce Hidden)

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