Brandon Circuit - Primitive Methodists (1832)

Brandon Circuit experienced rich effusions of the Holy Spirit, and witnessed the conversion of multitudes of sinners. At the Conference of 1833, the number of members was 660; but during the year, Rockland, near Attleborough, Norfolk, was made into a separate circuit with 472 members, and there yet remained in the parent circuit 400 members, making an increase of above 200 members for the year. The next succeeding year was also a prosperous one, the increase of members being 92. During the year following, deep poverty and much suffering prevailed greatly among the people, and certain men of influence raised severe opposition against the cause; but despite of all, the good work prospered, and the increase of members for the year was 106. The succeeding year, the poverty and oppression under which the people laboured appear to have increased in severity. At Thelneham, Rushford, and Bridgham, the friends were deprived of places to preach in, through the opposition of certain parties; and at Tottenham, a land-owner threatened to turn all the members out of their houses and employment, and said that, "sooner than the should preach in Any of his cottages, he would raze them to the ground." The poor people had, therefore, no place in which to meet for religious worship, but the open-air. But they remained firm to the cause which they had espoused, and whenever the weather would permit, they assembled for worship in the lanes, and sought for shelter under hedge-rows; and not-withstanding the poverty and persecution which many of the societies had to endure, the work of God continued to progress, and the increase of members for the year was 112. The year following was not exempt from trials, but it also was a prosperous one, the increase of members being 120. "Grievous oposition " befell the friends in the next year; but they were favoured with a small increase of members, and succeeded in erecting a chapel at Brandon, and another at Thetford, two market towns. The year succeeding, the increase of members was 138. The number of members reported to the Conference of 1840 was 954, being 297 more than at the Conference of 1833, though Rockland Circuit, with 472 members, had been separated from it. The increase of 766 in an agricultural circuit during seven years, in spite of deep poverty and severe oppression, was abundant cause for gratitude to the Giver of all good.

From, ‘The History of the Primitive Methodist Connexion from its origin, by John Petty, 1860, p314-5.

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