1791  2nd March   John Wesley died.  There were then 72.000 members in British Methodism. Penzance took the headship of St Ives circuit. Penzance circuit then comprised of what today are; Penzance, St Ives & Hayle, Mounts Bay (Marazion & Porthleven), Helston  (& St Keverne), and The Scilly Isles.

Dr Coke one of the most influential of preachers was in America, and  immediately returned and landing in Cornwall. and travelled through Cornwall by Coach. He met Jonathan Crowther , the senior preacher at Redruth, who informed him that the leading itinerants proposed to divide British Methodism into a number of Districts, each with a Chairman annually appointed by the preachers of the district, but responsible to conference. Coke himself would have preferred government by Bishops on the American model.



The custom of Methodist attendance at the Parish Church, insisted on by Wesley, was slowly given up during the nineteenth century. Richard Treffry who entered the itinerary in

1792, and travelled in several Cornish  circuits, attended the parish church weekly for the first ten years of his ministry.


1797 Richard Treffry at Penzance. First bank in Penzance, in Chapel St., founded by John Batten, William Carne & Richard Oxnam.


1798 revival began with enthusiastic scenes at Penzance on Christmas Day, and at Redruth on New Year's Eve, and quickly spread through west Cornwall; 2000 new members were added in the Penzance circuit alone;


1801  Penzance population 3.382


1802  Richard Treffry married Jane  Hawkey of St Wenn. When she became a Methodist  she dressed in the plain style of a puritan Quaker, and  gave seven times the amount to the poor that she spent on clothes.    When Richard Treffry was preaching at the Lizard he walked along the cliff and watched a smuggler land his goods, and later made the illuminating comment regarding his evening meeting- "in consequence of this we had very few hearers."

Treffry expounded the society rules to his members, and warned them against ' marrying with the world', that is taking partners any but committed Christians.


1803 Richard and Jane Treffry move to Truro, and have son named Tom.


1804  Richard and Jane Treffry move to Camelford and have a son Richard Junior. Who was baptised by Dr Thomas Coke on his visit.   Dr Thomas Coke, one of Wesley's clerical helpers who later became a Methodist leader, toured Cornwall advocating the formation of schools and offering financial assistance to their sponsors. At Camelford Richard Treffry called his leaders together to tell them of Dr Coke's offer of two guineas  to help opening a school. he told them that the proposed school would meet in the chapel until a separate room could be obtained, that the sessions would be from 8.am. to 10.30 a.m., and for an hour or two in the afternoon. 'The design of the Institution,' he said, 'is to teach them to read, to teach them the principles of religion and pray with and for them, and to labour to train them up for heaven.


1806-31 C. V. Le Grice, the perpetual curate of Penzance, a critic of Methodism, claimed that the revivals had been artificially created, and gave licence to immorality and every kind of excess. 


1811 population of Penzance 4,022


1812 Chapel St. 260 members.


1813   Foundation stone of Chapel St laid.

28th of August Jane Treffry arrives in Penzance from Bristol, her two sons at Kingsdown ?? school for itinerant ministers. "This day arrived at Penzance I feel my mind greatly exercised, and my spirits depressed. I feel I shall be useless in this place, but my God will direct"

27th September quarterly meeting 160 new members in circuit. 1813-1814 nearly 900 new members in circuit. Circuit included St Just and Scilly Isles.


1814 Some of the larger and wealthy Chapels, like Chapel street, followed the interior arrangement of Wesley's Chapel in London with a sanctuary behind a central Pulpit, containing a communion table and its rails, and on the wall behind the Ten Commandments, and The Lords Prayer. The pulpit was large with a reading desk placed immediately in front. They were separated in 1964. The  the pulpit was moved from the centre to the side of the Church.

besides the established church, there are several places of religious worship. The Wesleyan Methodists' chapel, built in the year 1814, is the most complete and capacious meeting house in the county. There are, moreover, appropriate places of worship for the Independents, Baptists and Quakers, and a synagogue for the Jews.


An Advertisement in the West Briton July 15. 1814. " Sale of Methodist Chapel Queen St. Penzance. 54ft long 36ft in breadth, with end and side galleries pulpit etc.,. + commodious house, chapel suitable for (i) divine worship (ii) warehouse and dwellinghouses.


1815  1st January.  Mrs Jane Treffry in her memoirs wrote, "again I enter a new covenant with him". This is one of the earliest comments concerning J Wesley's covenant service.


1815-39 Regent Terrace  built


1816 Dr Paris wrote  of the work of John Wesley :- The Methodists in Western Cornwall are very numerous, and of a respectable description; and the change which they have effected in the morals of the miners, is really incredible, and the habits of sobriety and order which they have happily introduced, have tended as much to the mining interests, as to the quiet and comfort of the neighbourhood.


1817 A Penzance circuit plan gives twenty five preaching places. (we give their membership in 1821 from the circuit membership book): Penzance (309 members), St Just (403), St Ives (215), Zennor (53), Towednack (52), Lelant (70), Ludgvan (71) Marazion (78), Mount (6) (disappears in 1822), Newlyn (148), Mousehole (165), St Buryan (151), Sowah (24) (called St Levan in the 1821 circuit book) Sennen (19), Morvah (12), Bosullow (21), Geerstamps (48), (called Geer on the 1825 plan), Tregavara (8), Sancreed (58), Madron (34),


Richard Robarts, at the age of 32 was at the Sheffield Conference appointed Superintendent of the Penzance circuit." Having never held that office before, I trembled at having the charge of so important a circuit committed to me. But the union which subsisted between me and my colleagues, Messrs. Akerman, Slater and Croggan, and the kindness of the people, rendered it less burdensome than I expected. We saw some fruit of our labours, and many were united to the societies. Yet, as there had been a rapid revival of religion previous to my going into that circuit, at which time, (as is usually the case in similar circumstances), several received the seed as on stony ground, and soon turned their back to their former iniquities; our number, notwithstanding the additions  before mentioned, decreased every quarter during the whole year. I found it to be very agreeable and profitable to labour among this people; many of whom possess a more than ordinary degree of piety.  There love-feasts were particularly edifying; as also the times of renewing their tickets. But the labours of the circuit were too heavy for my weak constitution......


1819 In January he was forced to give up, and moved to relatives at Truro.  In April he returned to Penzance. "Here I seemed at first to get better; being in a comfortable house, which Mr Joseph Carne most generously quitted on our account, and without our knowledge, while he went to reside in our damp and gloomy mansion.


In the memoirs of the Rev Richard Robarts  who was suffering from tuberculosis, he said of Joseph Carne, son of William Carne, (1782-1858).  that he was 'accommodated in a comfortable house in Chapel St which William Carne quitted, knowing of his ill health, to live himself in a damp and gloomy Manse.

In August from Guernsey, where his wife's family lived Richard Robarts wrote to William Carne. 'I embrace this opportunity of assuring you, that both myself and partner entertain a grateful recollection of your kindness towards us, while at Penzance, and of the profitable hours we enjoyed whilst listening to your edifying conversation.


1818 Penzance lending library opened, now called Morrab Library.


1820 attributed to Richard Treffry on Truro circuit plan

Are there any preachers whom we have not heard

Sent here to minister the gospel word?

No! just the same we have from year to year;

I wish we had some new ones stationed here.


1821  Penzance population  5,224

circuit plan shows communion held 1st Sunday each month.


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© Keith Austin

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