Wednesday with the WESLEY’S – Samuel Wesley, Father to John and Charles

The past two weeks we spent on the ancestors of John and Charles. Specifically John and Charles’ grandparents and great-grandparents.

Though there is a great deal of information available about Susanna, there is little about her processors as can easily be seen from last Wednesday’s post. Her father, Samuel Annesley, fairly well known non-conformist preacher of the day, was the son of John & Judith Aneley. Beyond there names, I have found no other information. Nor does there seem to be readily available information on Samuel Annesley’s wife Mary White.

There was more information about Samuel’s parents. Both Samuel’s father and grandfather were non-conformist (dissenter) pastors. Young Samuel began his early years heavily influenced by the non-conformist. Following some early, basic education, young Samuel was to study in preparation for becoming a minister in the dissenting (not Church of England) understanding of theology known in the 17th century. He was to train under the instruction of Theophilus Gale. The plan derailed when Gale passed away suddenly in 1678.

Samuel found himself in another grammar school, continuing that basic education. He was then placed in the Dissenting Academies near Newington Green with an annual scholarship. Sometime later, Samuel resigned his place in the Academies, giving up his annual scholarship. He headed west, walking the approximately 130 miles to Oxford where he enrolled in Exeter College as “a poor scholar.” During his time at Oxford Samuel supported himself working as a servant to wealthy students on campus. He also helped himself financially by publishing a small volume of poems he titled, “Maggots: or Poems on Several Subjects never before Handled.” The first poem, served as inspiration for the book’s title. That poem was all about the rather distasteful creatures.

In 1688 Wesley married Susanna Annesley. The couple parented 19 children. Nine of the children died in infancy. Of the surviving ten children, there were three boys including John and Charles. There were seven girls.

In 1693 Samuel wrote the epic poem, “The Life of Christ.” He dedicated the work to Queen Mary. In 1697, in the opinions of most historians, as a reward for having dedicated the poem to her, appointed Samuel to Epworth. The same historians debate how much of a reward the appointment might actually have been.

Samuel Wesley was a devotee of high church liturgies, academic pursuits, along with his loyalist-Tory political philosophies put him at odds with this church members and neighbors. Things started off bad and went downhill from there. A suspicious fire burned the Epworth parsonage down. Young John barely escaped.

Samuel continued his poetic work though it was, for the most part considered unremarkable in both content and writing. He apparently preferred speed in his writing over the language and work considered to be proper in poetry of his day. He did go on to complete a Master of Arts degree at Corpus Christi College at Cambridge.

Samuel Wesley spent much of his adult life in debt. His salary at Epworth was quiet low and with all the mouths needing fed, it was always a financial struggle that eventually sent Samuel to debtor’s prison. And the ways Susanna used to provide her her family during almost constant financial difficulty was remarkable, but more on that next week.

Be blessed.

Seeking the Genuine,

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved


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