St Austell Circuit - Primitive Methodists (1827)

We pass over numerous similar passages for the sake of brevity and insert the closing account of Mr Clowes's Missionary labours in Cornwall. "I next preached in succession, and with increasing influence and success, at St Blazey, St Austell, Folgas, the Downes, Redruth, North Country House, Biscovay, and at other places. Conversions frequently occurred, and at the principal places, the congregations increased rapidly. I frequently addressed large multitudes in the open-air and engaged largely in ministerial family visiting. On Monday, February 24th, 1826, I attended our preparatory Quarterly Meeting at Redruth, when the number of members in the mission was reported to be 235; and our financial affairs were good; so that we received nothing from Hull Circuit's funds, either for salaries or for travelling expenses."

It is to be regretted that Mr Clowes could not continue longer in Cornwall, as his labours there would have greatly strengthened and augmented the infant societies. His immediate successors, however, were eminently owned by God, and their labours crowned with abundant success.

In September,1826, the late Mr John Gamer became superintendent of the Cornish Mission, and he and his colleagues had the happiness of witnessing the conversion of many hundred souls. In the month of March 1827, a great revival broke out at Redruth and in the neighbourhood and thence extended itself to St. Austell and other places.

''Frequently no less than twenty persons joined our society in an evening," says Mr Gamer: "and during the ten months I have been at Redruth, more than six hundred have united with the Primitive Methodist Connexion in Cornwall."

From, ‘The History of the Primitive Methodist Connexion from its origin, by John Petty, 1860, p198.

From the following account, furnished by Mr Joseph Grieves, one of the early missionaries in Cornwall, it appears that a great proportion of the members in Cornwall belonged to the St Austell part of the Mission.

"Mr W. Clowes was the first Primitive Methodist Missionary to Cornwall. His labours were chiefly confined to Redruth and the vicinity; he paid a few visits to St Austell and a few neighbouring places, but his head-quarters were at Redruth where he laid the foundation of a revival which broke out just after he had left the country. He was succeeded by Messrs. John Gamer, W. Driffield, Richard Abey, and John Hewson.

Mr Hewson was the superintendent of the St Austell session the other mentioned brethren were stationed at Redruth. In July 1827, I was sent by the Hull Circuit to labour with Mr Hewson in the St Austell Mission, and the Lord prospered the work of our hands. "On Sunday evening, July 22nd, whilst preaching in St Austell chapel, the whole congregation seemed moved by the Holy Spirit; cries for mercy and shouts of glory drowned my voice; I stood upon the pulpit stairs and exhorted penitents to believe for present salvation. Numbers fell down in the pews, but how many were saved I cannot say. The converting work went through the Mission, and we visited several new places with success. On the "Wrestling Downs” about a mile from St Austell, we had a glorious work. This place derived its name from being the spot on which the annual wrestlings took place at the parish wakes. On a Sunday previous to one of those annual games, a camp-meeting was held on the Downs, when fervent prayer was offered to God to stay the prevalence of vice, and abolish the Sabbath-desecrating custom, and one of the umpires of the games was arrested by the awakening Spirit of God, abandoned his evil practices and became a member of society. Other lovers of the games were abashed and sought a more retired place on the opposite side of the town, where they could carry on their sports without molestation. A chapel was erected on the "Wrestling Downs," which has been the birth-place of many souls. Sinners were saved and societies termed at Mevagissey, Lostwithiel, New Mills, St Blazey, Polgooth, Tregenessey, Biscovay, Mendew, Kessely and Tregrehain Mills, at the last four mentioned places, chapels were erected. During the same year, 1827, I opened St Stephens, St Columb, St Minver, and Sticker. On January, 3rd, 1828, I opened Ladock; and formed a small society. From, ‘The History of the Primitive Methodist Connexion from its origin, by John Petty, 1860, p198-9.

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