Loftus (1851)

John Branfoot is credited with having been the first Primitive Methodist preacher in Loftus (Lofthouse, it was then called); and there is a record of J. Hutchinson having preached in the open-air at Hinderwell in 1821, when a notorious character named Sarah Smith straight, and of a society having been established in Staithes that year. Gross ignorance, superstition, and godlessness had previously prevailed. Mr Latimer says he had heard old Robert Verrill say when they first heard that the "Ranters" were coming, the young men turned out of the village to meet them, not knowing whether they were men or something else. But the fine nature of those fishermen responded to the hearty singing and preaching of the missionaries, and a transformation took place in the village. John Seymour, one of the early stalwarts, who toiled hard at camp meetings and in ordinary services; Richard Verrill, better known as "Ranter Dicky"; Robert Verrill, generally called "Little Bob," quaint and good; Alice Harrison, known to all the village as " Auld Aunt Ailsie," with her sunny face; Helen Leng, afterwards Mrs Richard Verrill, with many others whose names are written in the "Lamb’s Book of Life," had hold of God and men. "Was it any wonder," asks Mr Gray, when recalling the fidelity and heroism of these chosen spirits, "that in the winter of 1851-2 a powerful revival broke out, and a number of men (mostly fishermen) were soundly converted and added to the church?" John Britain is believed to be the only one now living of that goodly band. The work then extended to Loftus and other places, and hundreds of souls were converted.

‘Northern Primitive Methodism’ by W M Patterson, published 1909, page 38.

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