Morgan was responsible for introducing Bronte to the 'Madeley Circle',
A group of like-minded individuals who met in the nearby town at the home of Mary Fletcher, the widow of prominent Methodist preacher Rev John Fletcher. It is probable that Bronte learnt of and successfully applied for the position of Curate at Dewsbury through the group, whose members included John Crosse, Vicar of Bradford. Yorkshire was regarded as a 'promised land' for those practicing the evangelical tradition and Bronte may eventually have ended up in the county at some point anyway. Indeed, it seems to have been a long-held ambition of the young curate. madeley_circle
The Methodists in Bradford
have, like other places around, opened their chapels for services in Church hours and are become wholly dissenters. What reason they had for so doing in Bradford, I could never learn: tho Mr [John] Crosse and his curates are acknowledged by the Methodists as preaching and acting as the Gospel requires, yet they have left us! We have our church as full as ever & the new church is rapidly rising with every appearance of being filled. I am sorry to say that the majority of the committee at Woodhouse Grove [School] did not act towards Mr Fennel as they ought to have done and as they promised to do. I shall not enter into detail on that subject . If however you wish to know the particulars, I have stated them in a letter to Revd. Mr Gilpin…Mr F. may perhaps write to you himself.’ archives
Letter from William Morgan in Bradford to Mary Fletcher.
Morgan is sending a few lines to inform her how he has been since leaving Shropshire. He has much to be thankful for. ‘I have great cause to bless God for my leaving Wellington. The means which led to that circumstance though crooked led me I trust strait forward in the way I should go. I see more and more that men, both good and bad, are instruments in God’s hands & that “He doth all things well”…’
He found that the Methodists at first were ‘remarkably shy; but now we go on well. The different denominations in Bradford act towards each other in a manner highly consistent with those whose religion is – love.’
[John] Crosse left him soon after he arrived, intending to go to Bath and London for two months, but he went no further than Manchester where he stayed to assist Dr [Cornelius] Bayley who has been very unwell for a long time. Crosse has returned but is to leave again for three weeks to help Bayley.
Morgan finds that his health is very good. He likes the people here very much and the work load is not heavy. ‘Religion is flourishing among us’ – Morgan has heard some speak of Fletcher and there are some now in Bradford who were once her ‘fellow pilgrims.’
Mr [Patrick] Bronte has got a living within seven miles of Bradford [Hartshead near Dewsbury, Yorkshire.] where he ‘resides very comfortably and is very useful among his people. He desired me to present his Christian regards…He and I often meet…’ [John] Crosse sends his regards and was pleased to hear how she is doing. Crosse is very ‘hearty’ in all respects other than his near blindness. Morgan boards with him at the Vicarage and they enjoy much conversation together. ‘He still retains all the correctness of a gentleman with the graces of a Christian. He is universally respected by rich and poor. And I fear that they will not fully learn his value, but by his loss.’
Morgan would be pleased to receive a letter from Fletcher. He will also write to Mr Walters. [The Anglican curate at Madeley]
His regards should be passed to [Mary] Tooth.
Annotated by Fletcher – ‘Letters to answer July 18 – [Anne] Tripp, [William] Morgan, [Eleanor] Dickinson’
[ Note: Notes William Morgan was born probably in Bradford, Yorkshire. He was educated at Cambridge University and was ordained into the Anglican ministry. Morgan was the curate of Bradford between 1815 and 1851 and was closely associated with the noted evangelical Rector of the parish John Crosse, whose biography he wrote in 1841. Morgan was Rector of Hulcott in Buckinghamshire from 1851 to 1858 and vanished from the Clergy List in 1867. Source: Dictionary of National Biography under John Crosse and J. A. Venn, Alumni Cantabrigienses (1951) John Crosse (1739-1816) was the son of Hammond Crosse, gent. of Kensington, London. He was educated at a school near Barnet, Hertfordshire. It is not known when and by whom Crosse was ordained into the Anglican Church but as a young man he occupied curacies in Wiltshire and the Lock Chapel in London. From 1765 for three years he traveled around Europe and then completed studies at St Edmund Hall, Oxford, from where he graduated B.A. in 1768. In 1776 Crosse was incorporated B.A. at Cambridge and later took the degree of M.A. at King's College. After graduation Crosse held several curacies in the north of England before being appointed Vicar of Bradford in 1784. Crosse was a well-regarded evangelical who despite being afflicted with blindness during the last years of his life, continued to perform the offices of the Church until a fortnight before his death. Under the terms of his will, Crosse founded three theological scholarships at Cambridge University and left money in trust for the promotion of the 'cause of true religion'. His life was made the subject of a book by Rev. William Morgan in 1841. Source: Dictionary of National Biography Cornelius Bayley (1751-1812) was born at Ashe near Whitchurch in Shropshire. His father was a leather breeches maker who appears to have moved to Manchester while Bayley was very young. Cornelius was educated at Whitchurch Grammar School and subsequently worked there as a master. He is referred to in Venn's Alumni Cantabrigienses and the Dictionary of National Biography as being a Methodist preacher, but he is not recorded in the printed lists of early itinerants. Bayley was ordained deacon in the Church of England in 1780. He moved to Manchester and was the first incumbent of the 'proprietary church' of St James, which he built in 1787. The degree of B.D. was conferred on him at Cambridge in 1792, and that of D.D. in 1800. Bayley published an Hebrew grammar in 1792 and a preface to an edition of the 'Homilies' of the Church, published at Manchester in 1811. His other writings include sermons and pamphlets. Bayley's wife Rachel was a close friend of Mary Bosanquet-Fletcher. After her husband's death, she was involved in controversies regarding ministerial oversight of Manchester St James. Source: Fletcher-Tooth collection, Alumni Cantabrigienses compiled by J. A. Venn (1940) and Dictionary of National Biography Patrick Bronte (1777-1861) was born at Emnath, Drumballrooney, Ireland. He was educated at St John’s College Cambridge where he was supported financially by the evangelicals William Wilberforce and Henry Thornton. Bronte was ordained in 1806 and served a curacy in Essex until 1809, after which he became a curate at Wellington in Shropshire for a short time. During his time in Wellington, Bronte made the acquaintance of the prominent lay Methodist Mary Fletcher. In December 1809 he moved to West Yorkshire and occupied curacies in several parishes until 1820 when he was appointed Perpetual Curate of Haworth where he was to remain for the rest of his life. He maintained very friendly relations with Methodists and served for a time as examiner at Woodhouse Grove School near Leeds. During his visits to the school, Bronte met Maria Branwell who he later married. Bronte was a published poet in his own right but his chief claim to fame lies in his daughters, the famous Bronte sisters of Haworth. Source: Dictionary of Evangelical Biography, edited by Donald Lewis (1995) and The Story of Woodhouse Grove School by F. C. Pritchard (1978), 19-20. Eleanor Dickenson (1747-1815) was born at Horsforth near Leeds, Yorkshire, the daughter of Robert and Anne Thornton. Orphaned by the age of nine, Eleanor was converted at an early age and was a devout member of the Church of England. At the age of 21 she began to attend Methodist preaching and in 1773 married Abraham Dickinson (d.1804), a member of the Leeds Methodist Society. Eleanor was a close friend and regular correspondent of Mary Bosanquet-Fletcher. A generous giver to the poor, Eleanor acted as a class leader for many years and enjoyed a wide reputation for saintliness of character. Source: Methodist Magazine 1819, 683ff ] archives