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A History of Horncastle by James Conway Walter

Nonconformist places of worship

In connection with the church is the "Young Churchmen's Union," of which the Vicar is President. They have fortnightly meetings, in the Boys' National School, at 8.15 p.m. There is also a Church Lads' Brigade, No. 1951, attached to the 1st Battalion, Lincoln Regiment, B 51. This was enrolled Oct. 1st, 1901. The members are youths between the ages of 13 and 19; the present Lieutenant being H. W. Sharpe; Chaplain, the Vicar; Assistant Chaplain and Correspondent, the Senior Curate. Entrance fee 1/6, subscription 1d. per week.

The Church National Schools are good substantial buildings, erected at various periods, the Girls' School in 1812, the Infants' in 1860, and the Boys' (at a cost of 1,000 pounds) in 1872; the total accommodation is for 300 children, the average attendance being about 250. The schools were taken over by the Lindsey County Council, on April 1st, 1903.


There are in Horncastle five Nonconformist religious communities, the Wesleyan, Congregational, Primitive Methodist, Baptist, and New Church or Swedenborgian, each now having substantially built chapels, resident ministers, with Sunday, and, in one case, Day Schools. Through the courtesy of the Rev. John Percy, late Head Minister of the Wesleyan Society, we are enabled to give a fairly full account of its origin and growth, down to the present 20th century. As this is the most important religious body in the town, next to the Church of England, although it is not the oldest, we take the Wesleyans first. As will be seen in the following account, this Society arose from a very small beginning, but at the present time, with perhaps the exception of the Baptists, it is the most numerous and influential body among Nonconformists. Although, locally, rather fewer in numbers in recent years, than formerly, it is generally growing, and in the year 1904, as published statistics show, it acquired in the United Kingdom an addition of 10,705 full members, with 11,874 members on trial, and junior members 4,367; a total increase of 26,946.


The founder of this Society was, as its name implies, John Wesley, probably of the same stock as the great Duke of Wellington, whose family name was variously written Wellesley, or Wesley. {64} We take the immediately following particulars mainly from the _History of England_, by Henry Walter, B.D. and F.R.S., Fellow of St. John's College, Cambridge, Professor in the East India College, Hertford, Chaplain to the Duke of Northumberland, &c., &c., himself a Lincolnshire man.

John and Charles Wesley were the second and third sons of Samuel Wesley, Rector of Epworth, near Gainsborough; {65} John being born in 1703 (June 17), and Charles in 1708 (Dec. 18). John was educated at the Charterhouse, and Charles at Westminster School. In due course they both entered at Oxford University; John eventually being elected to a Fellowship at Lincoln College, and Charles to a Studentship at Christchurch. In 1725 John was ordained deacon of the Church of England. He left Oxford for a time to act as his father's curate, Charles remained as Tutor to his college. He, with some of his undergraduate pupils, formed a custom of meeting on certain evenings every week for scripture study and devotion, they carefully observed the Church's fasts and festivals, and partook of the Holy Communion every Sunday. From the strict regularity of their lives the name was given to them, by those who were laxer in conduct, of "Methodists."

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