Captain Anderson helps Englesea Brook Half Term towards Literary Success

We had a wonderful, literate October half term at Englesea Brook with a book sale that raised £1,300 for museum funds. Thanks to all who donated and / or bought books and to our team of volunteers who gave their time to make the event a success. A particular mention should be made of the contribution of Stephen Hatcher and Mike Dawson. Both of them have put many hours of effort into making the book sale a success which speaks volumes of their commitment to the project.

One novel aspect of the week was the last of the current series of monthly heritage services on Sunday October 25th. Since we were surrounded by 5,000 books it was decided to make the service a literary event focusing on Primitive Methodist people of letters. Margaret Gleave provided a fascinating account of the short but remarkablle life of Elizabeth Russell, a Primitive Methodist pioneer whose experiences raise interesting questions about the role of women in the early movement and, indeed, the place of women in church history more broadly.

Considerable excitement was generated by Keith Rothery's account of how he acquired some letters of Captain Anderson for the museum. Captain Anderson was a larger-than-life character in the early Primitive Methodist movement. He planted the flag that marked the spot of the first ever camp meeting at Mow Cop and was, for a time, a successful poet evangelist. Apparently, Anderson was converted under the ministry of his own brother but failed to realise this at the time!

The letters that Keith Rothery acquired for the museum were written in 1804 and 1805 and portray a very different world to the modern day. Anderson writes of revival but strikes an anti-Catholic chord that is way of of tune with modern ecumenical thinking. He also criticises his sister for wearing immodest dress and subjects her shortcomings to rather bleak poetic treatment:

To endless bliss you know the way,

yet amongst worldly people stay,

and walk not in the Road.

if by your conduct we may judge

we must conclude you do not trudge

to that Divine Abode.


Anderson's letters are not in perfect condition and some words are not possible to decipher. Nevertheless, they present a fascinating window into the life of a largely forgotten early player in Primitive Methodist history.

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