John Wesley’s writings about his visits to Otley, taken from his journals
July 17th – Having come from York and Tadcaster, “I preached at seven in the evening to an immense congregation at the foot of a high mountain [the Chevin] near Otley”.
Journal also contains references to a 1760 prayer meeting in Otley
July 6th – “I preached at Otley and afterwards talked with many of the Society. There is reason to believe that ten or twelve of them are filled with the love of God”.
July 24th – “I rode to Otley. In the evening we had a large congregation at the foot of the great mountain. After preaching in the morning I examined those who believe they are saved from sin. They are a little increased in number since I met them last; and some of them much increased in love”.
August 4th – “In the afternoon I went to Otley, but the town seemed to be run mad. Such noise, hurry, drunkenness, rioting, confusion I know not where I have met with before. It was their feast day. A feast of Bacchus, Venus, or Belial. Oh, shame to a Christian country. However, both the small and great rabble were so engaged that they had no leisure to molest us, so I preached to a large congregation under the hill with prefect quietness”.
June 26th – “It rained as I preached at Otley to a numerous congregation. They drank in the word of life, just as the thirsty earth the showers”.
July 30th – “In the evening I preached in the New House [the Church on Nelson Street] at Otley, as neat as that at Hull; and the people appeared to be much alive, so that I was greatly comforted among them”.
May 2nd – “I preached at Otley and Pateley Bridge”.
April 24th – “I went to Otley where the word of God has free course and brings forth much fruit. This is chiefly owing to the spirit and behaviour of those whom God has perfected in love. Their zeal stirs up many, and their uniform conversation has a language almost irresistible”.
May 9th – At Malton “hoping to meet miss R[itchie] there. Instead I found a letter which informed me that she was on the brink of the grave, but saying ‘surely my Lord will permit me to see you once more in the body’. I preached at Malton, set out and came to Otley at 4 a.m. Found here in the third stage of consumption, lung ulcers, spitting blood, pains in the breast and fever. She breathed nothing but praise and love. A short-lived flower, and ripe for a better soil. Back to Malton 90 to 100 miles”.
May 27th – From Sheffield to Leeds to Otley. “Here I found E.R. weaker and happier than ever. I spent half an hour with her. ‘Teach her, at once, and learn of her how to die’”.
June 5th – From Settle. “I came about noon to Otley, and found E.R. just alive, but all alive in God”. June 9th – “I spent one more hour in Otley. Spectaculum Deo Dignum. I have not before seen so triumphant an instance of the power of faith. Though in constant pain she has no complaint. She is all praise and love”.
April 19th – “I went to Otley. Here also the work increases, particularly with regard to sanctification. They retain a clear witness of what God has wrought”.
April 19th – On hearing of John Ritchie’s illness he hastened to Otley, but too late. After a little hesitation Vicar Wilson consented to John Wesley preaching the funeral sermon in the parish Church. “Perhaps such a congregation had hardly been in Otley Church before”.
April 30th – “I found Miss Ritchie still hovering between life and death”.
May 2nd – “I met the select society, all but two of them retaining the pure love of God, which some of them received nearly thirty years ago”.
July 15th – Coming from Burnley and bound for Bingley. “I retired to Otley and rested two days”.
May 20th – “I went to Otley and found God was there, both in the evening and morning service”.
May 6th – He visited Otley to unite in marriage Thomas Gill (an Otley born itinerant preacher stationed at York) and Elizabeth Robinson (a relative of the Ritchie family). It is said that, when permission to officiate at the ceremony was sought, the vicar replied, ‘Tell Mr Wesley he may marry all the folk in the parish – if he gives me the fee’. Wesley’s signature appears in the parish register, although this is no longer kept at Otley. “I preached at Otley to a lovely congregation and at 5 in the morning”.
July 21st – “I hid myself at Otley and prepared for the Conference”.
July 24th – “I preached to a lovely congregation on Ephesians 1, v 14”.
May 28th – “A chaise to Otley, conversed with E.R., dined with her etc.”