Derriaghy House - John Wesley (1773)

Another conversion at this period, of deep interest and fruitful of much good, was that of Mrs Gayer, who was the daughter of Valentine Jones, Esq., of Lisburn, and had married in 1758 Edward Gayer, Esq., clerk of the Irish House of Lords. He resided in a beautiful mansion delightfully situated at Derryaghy, described by Mr Wesley as "one of the pleasantest spots in the kingdom." She was remarkably attractive in her appearance and manner, a charming singer, and highly accomplished. Passionately fond of dancing and other worldly amusements, the life and soul of a highly respect­able and fashionable circle of friends, she entered into the gaieties and frivolities of the times with all the enthusiasm of an ardent temperament.

But some time after her marriage she became very deeply concerned about the salvation of her soul. In her anxiety she consulted a clergyman concerning her state, and what she should do to obtain relief of conscience. He said that her spirits had become depressed and that she should travel, go more into society, and engage more frequently in fashionable amusements. She followed his advice, and not finding rest of soul, then endeavoured at once to raise her spirits and satisfy conscience by a strange compromise—entering heartily into the world, yet faithfully attending to her religious duties. This she carried so far that on one occasion, when she went to a ball at Dublin Castle, she took her prayer-book with her, and after each dance retired and read a portion of it. But, being still unhappy, she went about to establish her own righteousness as the ground of her acceptance with God, being ignorant of "the righteousness which is of God by faith." She attended every service of the church, engaged in works of mercy, fasted and prayed; but all failed to bring the longed-for blessing. Instead of realizing holiness, the Spirit gave her a deeper insight into the depravity of her heart; and her sense of condemnation so increased that she was in danger of giving up in utter despair, all hope of sal­vation, when the Lord in mercy interposed on her behalf.

Mr Crommelin, who was surgeon of a regiment of dragoons then stationed in the neighbourhood, and was a hearty Method­ist, having occasion to visit Mr Gayer on business, embraced the opportunity of introducing religious conversation. Mrs Gayer was surprised to hear a gentleman, and especially an officer in the army, speak on such subjects; and, being favour­ably impressed with his spirit and views, told him of her "restless wandering after rest." He then showed her the "new and living way," whereby we have access unto God, even by Christ Jesus; and urged a present acceptance of the Saviour. As he thus told "the old, old story of Jesus and His love," Mrs Gayer believed, and the Spirit itself witnessed with her spirit that she was a child of God. Mr Crommelin strongly recommended her to become a member of the Society; but this she hesitated to do, being unwilling to act contrary to the prejudices of her husband against Methodists and Methodism.

Not long after having thus been brought into living union with Christ, Mrs Gayer having occasion to call on Mrs Cum­berland, at Lisburn, that good woman inquired whether she had ever heard the preachers, told her how different their ser­mons were from those they were in the habit of hearing, and related some of the wonderful results which had followed their labours. Mrs Gayer inquired when a service would be held. Mrs Cumberland replied that a meeting would take place in her house on the following day, and invited Mrs Gayer to be present; an invitation which she accepted, and took with her her only daughter, a girl of thirteen. The word which Mary Gayer then heard came with power to her hear and having thus been deeply convinced of sin, her prayer was soon after answered, and she was enabled to rest on Jesus as her Saviour, to the unspeakable joy of both herself and her mother. The blessing then received she retained until she passed triumphant home, sixty years subsequently. In connection with the above meeting both Mrs. and Miss Gayer were led to become mem­bers of the Society.

From 'History of Methodism in Ireland' by Crookshank, Volume I p262-3.

At Lisburn Mrs Gayer, for the first time after her con­version, had an opportunity of hearing Mr Wesley preach, which she greatly enjoyed. At the close of the service she was introduced to him, and he, having obtained her address, said that he would call and see her. Knowing the strong feeling Mr Gayer had against Methodism, and fearing the reception Mr Wesley would receive from him, she, with her daughter, made it a subject of special prayer during most of that night, that the Lord would dispose the heart of her husband to receive the servant of God graciously. On the follow­ing day, Mr Wesley walked out to Derryaghy from Lisburn and met Mr Gayer in the avenue leading to his residence. The former inquired if Mrs Gayer lived in that house, the latter re­plied, "Yes, she is my wife," and entered into conversation with Mr Wesley, not knowing who he was. Mr Gayer was much impressed with the culture and gentlemanly deportment of the stranger, felt drawn towards him at once and invited him to dinner. Thus prejudices were completely removed, and arrangements made for regular preaching at Derryaghy; which, being commenced by Mr Wesley before a large con­gregation on that very day, was subsequently continued in a place fitted up for the purpose by Mr Gayer at his own ex­pense. Not only was a room set apart in the house for the preachers, called "the Prophet's Chamber," but they were also kindly and hospitably entertained, at regular intervals, for many years.

From "History of Methodism in Ireland" by Crookshank, Volume I, p277.

...and thence to Derryaghy, where his overworked system sank, both mind and body having completely failed. Here he re­ceived from the family the kindest attention. Serious apprehensions were entertained throughout the kingdom, and fervent prayer was offered for his recovery. One day Mr Payne with a few friends at Derryaghy, earnestly prayed that God would graciously prolong the valuable life of His servant, and, as in the case of Hezekiah, add to his days fifteen years. Mrs Gayer suddenly rose from her knees, and exclaimed: " The prayer is granted! " Soon after Mr Wesley was restored to health, and, it is worthy of notice, survived from June 1775, till March 1791, a period of fifteen years and eight months.

The Rev. E. and Mrs Smyth, who were in Lisburn at this time, and had been looking forward with no ordinary interest to meeting Mr Wesley, were at length gratified. Mrs Smyth wrote to her sister-in-law: " Mr Smyth and I dined in company with Mr Wesley at my uncle Gayer's yesterday. We spent a most happy day. The sweet old man seemed in good spirits. What a blessing is the communion of saints !"

Twelve days after Wesley arrived at Derryaghy, to the astonishment of his friends, he set out for Dublin, where he soon resumed his usual labours, preaching twice each day; and remained for more than three weeks.

From "History of Methodism in Ireland" by Crookshank, Volume I, p298.

Additional Information

This house is where John Wesley was supposed to have stayed many times, but it does not tie up with the report below that Edward Gayer lived in 'a beautiful mansion delightfully situated at Derryaghy.' I assume this house was on the estate and that the house is long gone. The tree is supposed to be where Wesley often preached.

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