The Wesleys Detained at Cowes
An extract taken from Chapter 11 of ‘Methodism in the Isle of Wight’
by John B. Dyson and published by George M. Burt of Ventnor in 1865!
The length of time, now more than one hundred and ten years, since Wesleyan Methodism secured a foundation in the Isle of Wight, makes it probable that we shall never know the exact circumstances under which the first stone was laid of spiritual edification which by the grace of God has been reared. Nearly twenty years before that event, John and Charles Wesley had been on the Island and Charles had preached several times at Cowes. They were detained by stormy weather as they were on their way to America. Under date – November 1st 1735 John Wesley says, “we came to St Helen’s harbour and the next day into Cowes Road. The wind was fair but we waited for the ‘Man of War’ which was to sail with us. This was a happy opportunity of instructing our fellow travellers. May He who’s seed we sow give it the increase”.
Thursday 20th – We fell down into Yarmouth Road but the next day we were forced back into. During our stay here there were several storms in one of which two ships in Yarmouth Road were lost.
Sunday 23rd – At night I was awoke by the tossing of the ship and roaring of the wind and plainly showed I was unfit for I was unwilling to die.
Tuesday Dec. 2nd – I had much manifestation in conversing with one that was very ill and very serious. But few days she recovered from her sickness and her seriousness together.
Wednesday 10th – We sailed from Cowes and in the afternoon passed the Needles. Here the ragged rocks with the waves dashing and foaming at the feet of the and the white side of the Island rising to such a height perpendicular from the beach, gave a strong idea of (Him that spaneth the Heavens, and holdeth the waters in the hollow of His hand).
From the journal of Mr Benjamin Ingham, who was one of the Oxford Methodists and a fellow voyager of the Wesley’s, we are able to cull some additional facts. He says “Having now no further doubt but that I was intended by providence to accompany Mr Wesley on Tuesday 14th October1735, he, his brother Charles, myself and Mr Delamotte (son of a merchant in London who had a mind to leave the world and give himself up entirely to God) being accompanied by Mr Morgan, Mr Burton (one of the trustees) and Mrs James Hutton, took boat at Westminster for Gravesend and went on board the ‘Symmonds’. We have two cabins on the fore castle, I and Mr Delamotte having the first and Messrs. Wesley the others. Theirs was made pretty large so that we could all meet and pray in it.
17th – Mr Wesley began to learn the German language in order to converse with the Moravians, a good, devote, peaceable and heavenly-minded people who were persecuted by the Pacifists and driven from their native country upon account of their religion. They were received by Count Zinalndorf of Huerhut who sent them into Georgia.
19th – Mr John Wesley began to preach without notes expounding a portion of Scripture extempore according to the ancient usage.
Sunday November 2nd – We passed the fleet at Spithead and came into Cowes Road off the Isle of Wight where we lay until 10th December. During our stay here we had an excellent opportunity of promoting the work of God among our fellow passengers. Mr Charles Wesley, being known to the minister of Cowes, preached several times in the Island and read at a poor woman’s house to a good number of people and I believe they were not a little edified by his addmonitions and excitations.
3rd. – We took a walk into the Island where we agreed upon the following resolution, in the name of God Amen! We whose names are underwritten, being fully convinced that it is impossible either to promote the word of God among the heathen without an entire union among ourselves or that such a union should subsit, unless each one will give up his single judgement to that of the majority, do agree by the help of God first that none of us will undertake anything of importance without first passing it to the other three. Secondly that wherever our judgements differ any one shall give up his single judgement or inclination to the others. Thirdly that in the case of an equality, after begging God’s direction, the matter shall be decided by lot. JW, CW, DI and CD.
Mr Ingham enumerates several things which he regarded as providential for their detention at Cowes. These reasons were – the departure of a gentleman from the ship who scoffed at religion and was a snare to him. The removal of the second mate who “was a very insolent and ill mannered fellow who had abused many of the passengers and also Mr Wesley and at least affronted Mr Oglethorpe to his face, and the reception of a young man on board who gave the following account of himself – he had left his parents, he said, who were rich (though he was their only son) because they would not let him serve God as he had a mind. He used to spend a good part of the night in prayer not having opportunity to do it my day. When he left home he did not know where he should go having no clothes with him but he did not seek for money or worldly enjoyment, he desired only to save his soul. When he was travelling he had prayed that he might go to some place where he could have the advantage of public prayers and the Holy Sacraments. Several times he had thoughts of turning ‘Hermit’ but providence had brought him to us and he was glad to meet with ministers with whom he could freely converse about spiritual things. This I think”, said Mr Ingham, was another reason for our delay”. All love, all glory be to thee Oh Lord.
10th – Now at length it pleased our Heavenly Father to send us a fair wind. We left Cowes about 9 in the morning. We made the best of our way running between 7 and 8 miles an hour.