John Newton to Thomas Robinson

9. 2 June [1779]*
Dear Sir
In the first place, to ease my mind, I beg you will plead with Mr Ludlam[1] for my pardon in not having yet returned his papers. Tell him that journeys, visits, Mrs Newton's repeated illness, &c. &c., have quite engrossed me since my return; beg him to ascribe my seeming negligence to any cause but a want of respect and attention to him, and add, that in a little time I hope to find leisure to send him my thoughts.

I have desired 30 of my hymn books (which are now near publication,) may be sent to you. And I beg you will desire the two Mr Ludlams, Mr Robinson, Mr Grif­fin,[2] Mr Baver[Baxter?[3]], Mr Moore,[4] Mr Miles, Mr Wheatley,[5] Mr Flude,[6] Mr Blakesley[7] and Mr Hall of Arnsby,[8] each to accept a copy as a token of the author's love. I beg you likewise to send 20 to Dr Ford, and I will trouble you to dispose of the residue at your leisure.
Thank you for your letter; I am always glad to hear from you and Leicester. A large piece of my heart is there, and I wish to be thankful both to the Lord and His people, for the kindness we have received there.

I wish Mr Griffin happy in his new situation. I am glad that Mrs Palmer is released; happy soul, how little does she now care for the designs of France and Spain! Nor need we ourselves; for the Lord reigns, and therefore His people may rejoice. Yet things look dark. Oh! for a spirit of wrestling prayer among His children! I trust still that though He may humble our pride, He will not give us up to the will of our enemies.

Your intended meeting[9] is too far distant for me to join, further than by my prayers that a blessing may be among you. Indeed, I am not without diffi­culties about such meetings; it requires much grace and prudence, to keep either from trifling or wrangling in them. There will be some difference of views and senti­ments when a number come together, and self in one view or other will try to in­trude. A meeting, when one minister is thought so much superior to the rest, in grace, wisdom and experience, that he might have some weight as a ruler, would be best. And perhaps the superior clergy may be jealous of Methodists associated as a kind of synod—when they might visit occasionally by twos and threes without giving um­brage. However, I hope to be with you in spirit on 28th July, and shall be obliged to you for an account of your proceedings when you return.
Mrs Newton is often ailing, and of course often pretty well. The Lord deals gently and graciously with us, and affords us intervals of relief, and a thousand mer­cies to mitigate our crosses. I write in great haste; we unite in affection and thanks to you and Mrs Robinson, and all our kind friends. I hope, when Mr Griffin is my neighbour, I shall see him.[10] I am, most affectionately yours,
Olney, 2nd June [1779] John Newton
*    The Evangelical Register, 1839; page 29, No. 22

[1] This is likely to be William Ludlam (1717-1788), qv (3 May 1776)
[2] Edward Griffin (-1833?) was licenced curate at St Martin’s, Leicester, on 25 May 1777, subsequently rector of (St.Nicholas) Hulcott (1779) and vicar of Welham (1787). St Andrew’s, Welham, was on the estate owned by Gerard Noel Edwards (1759-1838) (later Sir Gerard Noel Noel), who married Diana, daughter of Admiral Sir Charles Middleton, in 1780. In a letter to William Wilberforce dated 5 May 1786, Newton writes: “I have known Mr Griffin, whose letter I take the liberty to enclose, ten or twelve years, and have good warrant to speak of him as an upright, faithful minister. He is curate of Little Horwood near Winslow, Bucks, where he has been useful and beloved. His wife is a good woman, and their conduct in the parish is exemplary and benevolent. The poor have reason to love them, though their income is very moderate. He likewise holds a small living, some miles nearer Aylesbury, for the son of his Patron Mr Langston, who is now at Oxford, and will I suppose take Orders in a year or two, when Mr Griffin will be either unprovided for, or straightened, for his curacy alone would be a very poor maintenance. I had the honour and pleasure through the favour of Lord Dartmouth to be instrumental in procuring St Mary Leicester for Mr Robinson, which has proved a great blessing to the town. But at present I have nowhere to look but to you. The Lord Chancellor having neglected so many applications of Lord Dartmouth’s that I cannot trouble him any more. Though Mr Robinson has been much owned at Leicester there is large scope for another minister there, as the town is very large and populous. For the rest I refer you to Mr Griffin’s letter.” This was followed on 3 June 1786, Newton to Wilberforce: “After what you told me, I judge it unnecessary to trouble you any farther concerning my friend Mr Griffin, and the Living of All Saints in Leicester, now vacant.” (Griffin was instituted rector of All Saints Hulcott by Thomas Thurlow on 3 June 1779; Stephen Langston was licensed there as curate 17 February 1788; Griffin resigned 12 March 1790 and Stephen Langston was instituted rector in his place)
[3] John Baxter was a churchwarden at St Mary de Castro during this period (eg 1772/73), as was William Baxter (eg 1776) [On 15 June 1786, Joseph Gregory, curate at St Martin’s since December 1784, was appointed vicar of St Martin’s and All  Saints following the death of Thomas Haines]
[4] John Moore, wholesale hosier, with whom Newton stayed on several trips to Leicester – Newton’s Diary 17 March 1775: “The Lord prepared us a comfortable lodging and many kind friends came to visit us and spent the evening with us at Mr Moore’s.” – Newton’s Travel Diary, 15 June 1792 (Mary Newton had died in 1790): “My return to Mr Moore’s revives the remembrance of old times, but all is well – I praise thee my Lord.”
[5] Joseph Wheatley, a churchwarden at St Mary de Castro, was one of a few evangelicals meeting weekly at St Mary de Castro. When Robinson arrived as curate to St Martin’s, Wheatley went to hear him and offered his support. In 1778 Wheatley endowed a weekly lecture at St Mary’s “for the preaching of the everlasting Gospel in this church”, and had Robinson appointed lecturer. He is described on his memorial as “a steady friend, and an admirer of the Church of England, and early impressed with the evangelical purity of her doctrine to promote the glory of God.” He died “in humble dependence on the merits of his adorable Redeemer Jesus Christ” on 17 December 1816 aged 78. His wife Ann predeceased him, dying “in faith and hope” at the age of 84 on 22 March 1804.
[6] Perhaps Thomas Flude of Frier Lane, Leicester?
[7] Thomas Blakesley, framework knitter, of Hinckley, and his wife Ann, provided lodgings for the curate James Bowyer, and hosted Newton when he preached at St Mary’s Hinckley. Newton described them to Thornton: “They seem excellent people, very happy in themselves and in each other, steadfast and consistent in their profession and ornamented with a meek and quiet spirit.  They were both unawakened when Mr. Bowyer came to them.  They were unwilling to take him in, at last consented he should be there a fortnight, before that term was expired they were unwilling to part with him.” (ALS, 5 April 1775)
[8] Robert Hall (1728–1791), Baptist minister in Arnesby. On Tuesday 14 October 1766, Newton wrote: “Instead of the Great House tonight we attended on Mr Hall of Arnsby. He preached well from Hebrews 2:3. He called on me twice and seems a man of a right spirit.” Over the years, Newton cultivated a friendship with Robert Hall. Arriving home in Olney after his visit to Leicestershire in April / early May 1779, Newton recorded in his diary: “I spent one day at Arnsby with Mr Hall”.  Just a few weeks later, on 26 May, Hall preached at College Lane, Northampton, on Isaiah 57:14. By request, his sermon was published, in 1781, as Help to Zion’s Travellers, being an attempt to remove various stumbling blocks out of the way, relating to doctrinal, experimental, and practical religion. Joseph Ivimey, in his History of the English Baptists, 1811, regards this sermon as significant in assisting to loosen the rigidity of the Baptists’ Calvinism. 
[9] Robinson participated in clergy meetings at Birmingham, Rauceby, Aldwinkle, and Creaton (Vaughan p265).
[10] Edward Griffin, qv, was instituted vicar of All Saints Hulcott (sometimes Hulcote), near Aylesbury, about 25-30 miles from Olney, on 3 June.


Marylynn Rouse, 19/06/2015