Revd. John Wesley Etheridge 1804 -1866
(Supplied by Anne Vinnicombe)
He was born at Youngwoods on 24th February, 1804, the third of seven children. Youngwoods is four miles from Newport on the Isle of Wight. His father was John Etheridge and his mother Alley Gray. His parents were devoted methodists and, from the first introduction of Methodism to the island, their house was ever open to its ministers.
While he was yet an infant, his father, having set out from home one Sunday morning to fulfil an appointment in a distant part of the circuit, was impressed with the thought that he ought to turn back. He did not wish, however, to disappoint his congregation and tried therefore to resist the impression; but it seemed to him as if a voice said, Go back; go back. He therefore went back, and, on inquiring for the child, found that he had fallen into such danger that had he not been rescued immediately he must have died.
His sister’s testimony is, that he was a “child of a gracious disposition, remarkable for tenderness of conscience and for filial piety”.
John Wesley Etheridge was placed at school for a time under the care of a Baptist minister at Portsea, under whose tuition he remained until his father opened an academy there, which was subsequently removed to Newport. Mr.Etheridge was will qualified for the work of teaching, and to train the mind of his own son would be to him a great joy.
But young Etheridge was a student after he left school and indeed to the very close of his life. He had an aptitude for languages and became familiar with Greek, Latin, French, German, Hebrew and Syriac. He never went to college or even to a high-class school. To a great extent he was self taught.
In 1824 he was placed on the plan as a local preacher. Around 1827 he was sent to Hull to assist the Rev. Dr. Beaumont who was in poor health. He remained there until the Conference of 1828, when he was appointed to the Bingley Circuit. The remaining years of his probation were spent at Bingley, Lambeth, and Brighton. At the Conference of 1831, held in Bristol, he was received into full connexion, and solemnly ordained to the office and work of the Christian ministry. Soon after he was united in marriage to Miss. Middleton. He remained in Brighton two years longer.