Gayer, Henrietta (née Jones)

Leading Irish Methodist. In 1758 she married Edward Gayer of Derryaghy, near Lisburn, clerk to the Irish House of Lords. She was noted as a charming and gifted socialite, but she also became increasingly religious. She first encountered the Methodists about 1772 and after initial hesitation she and her daughter Mary, wife of Richard Wolfenden, of Lambeg House, were converted at a house meeting in Lisburn and joined the society.

When John Wesley visited Lisburn in 1773, Mr. Gayer was impressed by his 'culture and gentlemanly deportment'. Their home at Derryaghy became a centre of Methodism and provided hospitality for the preachers. It was at the Gayer home in June 1775 that Wesley became seriously ill and seemed likely to die. Prayers were offered that, like Hezekiah, he should be granted an additional 15 years. He made a remarkably quick recovery and lived for a further 15 years and eight months.

Mrs. Gayer was a fervent supporter of charitable causes and played an important part in the building of the Methodist chapel in Lisburn. She died at Derryaghy on 25 March 1814.

Tradition has it that, on his visit to Lambeg House in 1787, Wesley demonstrated his hope that the Methodist Connexion and the Church of Ireland should become one, by intertwining two beech saplings. These have since grown together to form two interlocking beech trees. Because of this tradition it was at Lambeg House, now called Chrome Hill, that the Covenant between the Church of Ireland and the Methodist Church in Ireland was signed on 26 September 2002.

  • C.H. Crookshank, Memorable Women of Irish Methodism in the Last Century (1882), pp. 116-25
  • Oxford DNB

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