In 1746 a Jacobite Methodist, Ninian Dunbar, was accompanied to the gallows by Methodist soldiers on the government side who sang and prayed with him. Christopher Hopper came in 1759, 1860 and 1761 and John Wesley first visited in 1764. In 1770 he found that Benjamin and William Chappel, wheelwrights waiting three months for a ship to return them to London, had employed the time in meeting people every night to sing and pray. The society rented a disused malt kiln off Academy Street, then moved to New Street until in 1798 Inglis Street chapel was opened (rebuilt on the same site in 1868). With an increase in numbers, the society moved to the Music Hall in Union Street in 1922, leaving Inglis Street for use as Sunday School and institute. The Union Street premises were burned down in 1961 and were replaced in 1965 by a church in Huntley Street.
John Wesley's Journal:
June 1764: 'I could not preach abroad because of the rain, nor could I hear of any convenient room, so that I was afraid my coming hither would be in vain, all ways seeming to be blocked up. At ten I went to the kirk. After service Mr. Fraser, one of the ministers, invited me to dinner, and then to drink tea. As we were drinking tea he asked at what hour I would please to preach. I said, "At half-hour past five." The high kirk was filled in a very short time, and I have seldom found greater liberty of spirit. The other minister came afterwards to our inn, and showed the most cordial affection. Were it only for this day, I should not have regretted the riding a hundred miles.'
[Preaching again next day] 'I think the church was fuller now than before, and I could not but observe the remarkable behaviour of the whole congregation after service. Neither man, woman, nor child spoke one word all the way down the main street. Indeed, the seriousness of the people is the less surprising when it is considered that for at least a hundred years this town has had such a succession of pious ministers as very few in Great Britain have known… 'The main streets are broad and straight; the houses mostly old, but not very bad nor very good… The pople in general speak remarkably good English, and are of a friendly, courteous behaviour.'
April 1770: 'Benjamin and William Chappel, who had been here three months, were waiting for a vesel to return to London. They had met a few people every night to sing and pray together; and their behaviour, suitable to their profession, had removed much prejudice.
[Next day] 'I breakfasted with the senior minister, Mr. M'Kenzie, a pious and friendly man. At six in the evening I began preaching in the church, and with very uncommon liberty of spirit. At seven in the morning [Saturday] I preached in the library, a large and commodious room; but it wouild not contain the congregation; many were constrained to go away…
[Sunday] 'At seven, the benches being removed, the library contained us tolerably well; and I am persuaded God shook the hearts of many outside Christians. I preached in the church at five in the afterrnoon… Many followed us from the church to our lodgings, with whom I spent some time in prayer, and then advised them, as many as could, to meet together and spend an hour every evening in prayer and useful conversation.'
June 1779: 'In the afternoon I reaches Inverness, but found a new face of things there. Good Mr. M'Kenzie had ben for some years removed to Abraham's bosom. Mr. Fraser, his colleague, a pious man of the old stamp, was likewise gone to rest. Th three present ministers are of another kind; so that I have no more place in the kirk; and the wind and rain would not permit me to preach on the Green. However, our house was large though gloomy enough… I then spent some time with the society, increased from twelve to between fifty and sixty. Many of these knew in whom they had believed, and many were going on to perfection; so that all the pains which have been taken to stop the work of God here have hitherto been in vain.
[Next day] 'We had another rainy day, so that I was again driven into the house; and again I delivered my own soul, to a larger congregation than before. In the morning we had an affectionate parting, perhaps to meet no more. I am glad, however, that I have made thre journeys to Inverness. It has not been lost labour.'
May 1784: 'I had sent Mr. [Duncan] M'Allum before on Mr. Whitfield's horse, to give notice of my coming… I preached at seven to a far larger congregation than I had seen here since I preached in the kirk. And surely the labour was not in vain, for God sent a message to many hearts.
[Next morning] 'Notwithstanding the long discontinuance of morning preaching, we had a large congregation at five… The congregation was larger this evening than the last, and great part of them attended in the morning. We had then a solemn parting, as we could hardly expect to meet again in the present world.'