North Midland Counties (Leics, Rutland, Lincs, Notts, Derbys)

Between 1742 and 1790 John Wesley visited his birthplace, Epworth, every other year on his northern journeys. Otherwise, except for Grimsby which he visited 19 times, he gave very little attention to Lincolnshire. It was left largely to local initiative and the itinerants to establish societies there. Methodism was strongest in Lindsey, where there was a larger concentration of population, compared with Holland and Kesteven, where it also encountered Baptist and Catholic influence respectively. Elsewhere in the North Midland Region John Wesley was similarly selective. In the early years of his itinerant ministry he paid several visits toLady Huntingdon's home at Donington Park, Leics, but later concentrated on the county towns: Nottingham (30 visits), Leicester (18 visits) and Derby(16 visits).

In the nineteenth century PM became by far the largest of the non-WM bodies, especially in Lincolnshire, where Lincoln, Gainsborough and Grantham were early PM centres and it had a following among the agricultural labourers. Scotter (where the PM Conference met in 1829) became a circuit town and the centre of widespread missionary activity, extending as far as the Channel Islands. In mid-century Louth, Lincoln, Grantham, Derby and Nottingham became strongholds of Wesleyan Reform.

In 1851 the Religious Census recorded a total of 1,554 Methodist places of worship in the North Midland Division (including WM:963; PM: 470). Total adult attendances on Census Sunday were 279,237 (23% of the population) with evening services (usually the best attended) totalling 136,753 (11.3%). As a percentage of the population, attendances at both WM and PM services were higher in Lincolnshire than elsewhere in the Division. With approximately 50% of the WM figures (except for a much lower morning attendance), the PM presence was a significant one across the Division. Though WR attendances morning and evening were only 10% of the WM totals, this represented substantial inroads into the WM membership, despite the small number (66) of WR chapels at that date. WM faced less rivalry in Nottinghamshire from either PM or WR than elsewhere in the Division.

By 1989 the number of Methodist churches was down to 798, with the largest concentration in Lincolnshire and Derbyshire. Attendances totalled 32,500 (1.2% of the population) and membership 25,500 (0.9%).

  • A.R. Griffin, 'Methodism and Trade Unionism in the Nottinghamshire-Derbyshire Coalfield, 1844-90', in WHS Proceedings, 37 pp.2-9
  • Colin P. Griffin, 'Methodism in the Leicestershire and South Derbyshire Coalfield in the Nineteenth Century', in WHS Proceedings, 39 pp.62-72
  • James Obelkevitch, Religion and Rural Society: South Lindsey, 1825-1875 (Oxford, 1976)
  • William Leary, Lincolnshire Methodism (Buckingham, 1988)
  • Joan & Robin Stevenson, John Wesley in Leicestershire (1988)
  • R.W. Ambler, Ranters, Revivalists and Reformers: Primitive Methodism and Rural Society, South Lincolnshire (Hull, 1989)
  • James S. English, A Bibliography of Lincolnshire Methodism (Gainsborough, 1994)
  • William Leary, Some Lincolnshire Methodists (Loughborough, 1998)
  • William Leary, For all the Saints: Lincolnshire Methodists of the twentieth century (Loughborough, 2000)