The medium register shown here dates from 1578 to 1739. On 28 March 1726, John Wesley was admitted to a fellowship at Lincoln College with all the rights and privileges of the society. The entry is signed by John Morley, Rector of Lincoln.
Sources show that John Wesley occupied rooms in Chapel Quad staircase 5 during his time at Lincoln. The artwork in this image is the original wall decoration from the early seventeenth century construction of this quadrangle. Wesley’s original rooms feature this wall painting which depicts an image with strong religious iconography. The largest figure is a bird, likely to be a cockerel. This alludes to the repentance of Peter following his denial of Jesus (Matthew 26: 73-75), with a rooster symbolising the Passion. A snake appears to its right, which can exemplify evil or sin.
In the early 18th century, like today, Lincoln College commemorated the College founders and benefactors. During Wesley's time there was a full annual cycle of remembrance days. The College accounts list the Fellows’ payments on remembrance days. This image from the 1730 Calculus (College account), records the memorial days on which John Wesley received payment.
Isham was Rector of Lincoln from 1731 to 1755. It is clear that Wesley considered Isham a close friend and seems to have done what he could to ensure his election, recording in his diaries an unusual number of meetings with other Fellows in the days preceding the vote. This portrait of Isham, which currently hangs in the Archive, was painted in 1737 by Thomas Gibson (c.1680-1757).
This view from the 1743 Oxford Almanack held in the Archive shows the layout of the College during Wesley’s time, along with depicting the founders and the two collegiate churches in Oxford: All Saints and St Michael’s at the Northgate. The Almanack also gives the term dates for the Oxford academic year. This would have provided the framework for John Wesley’s schedule as Fellow. We know from his diary entries that he created a rigorous daily routine of teaching, reading, theological study and sermon preparation around the University’s termly pattern.
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Evidence from John Wesley’s diaries, in addition to college and university records, demonstrate that he took his duties as fellow seriously, particularly with regard to teaching. In June of 1730, eleven men were assigned to Wesley for tutoring: John Westley, Jonathan Black, Thomas Waldegrave, Thomas Hylton, Robert Davison, John Bartholomew, John Sympson, Edward Browne, Richard Bainbridge and George Podmore. The College bible clerk, Joseph Green, was already his pupil by this time. Later pupils included Westley Hall, Johnny Whitelamb, Richard Morgan and James Hervey.
John Wesley relinquished his fellowship at Lincoln College when he married Molly Vazeille in February 1751, as was the requirement of Fellows who wished to marry at that time. His letter of resignation is inserted in the College register.
David Loggan was appointed public sculptor to the University in 1669 and published his collection of over 40 engraved plates of Oxford colleges, grounds and maps in 1675. By this date the major works undertaken in the 17th century had been completed and the College looked as it would do some 50 years later when Wesley was elected to a fellowship.
The Wesley Room at Lincoln is located on the south side of Front Quad. These rooms have traditionally been associated with Wesley and were restored by the American Methodist Committee to commemorate the 200th anniversary of his fellowship in 1928. Since this restoration further evidence has been uncovered to suggest that Wesley’s rooms were in fact in Chapel Quad, a fact that in no way detracts from a generous memorial that testifies to Wesley’s connection with the College and to his important legacy.
The Wesley Room houses the Wesley Collection, a library of more than 1300 printed books relating to John Wesley and the early history of Methodism. The College owes this important library to Mrs May Hall who in 1952 donated the Wesleyana collected by her husband, the Reverend Albert F. Hall, a former president of the Methodist Conference.
It was customary for gentlemen commoners at Lincoln to give a piece of silver to the Senior Common Room.
Richard Morgan was the younger brother of William, one of the founding members of the Holy Club and a pupil of Wesley’s. William Morgan’s death in 1732 had been attributed by some, including his father, to the rigours of the regime to which he had submitted as a member of the Holy Club. In spite of his misgivings, Richard Morgan senior entrusted his second son to Wesley’s care.
The decanter, which is still in use in the Senior Common Room, bears the inscription: ‘Richardus Morgan Filius unicus Richardi Morgan Armigeri de Civitate Dubliniensis in Hibernia Soc: Com: Coll: Lin: D.D’. The inscription, describing Richard Morgan as ‘filius unicus’ (only son), is a poignant reminder of William Morgan’s death.
This sauce boat is one of a pair of identical pieces of plate given to the College, as was the practice of gentlemen commoners, by another of Wesley’s pupils, Westley Hall (1711-1776). In 1737 Hall married Wesley’s sister Martha, though he had also proposed to her sister Keziah.
The inscription on the sauce boat reads: ‘D.D. Westley Hall de Civ: Sarum Socio-Commensalis Coll: Linc: 1735’. Like the decanter given by Richard Morgan, the sauce boat is still in use in the Lincoln Senior Common Room and at High Table.
This collection of 134 hymns by John and Charles Wesley was published anonymously in London in 1761 with 2 more editions in Bristol in 1765 and 1766.
The Lincoln copy bears the inscription of 3 former owners: John Fletcher, his wife Mary Fletcher and her companion Mary Tooth. It was evidently a much-used book: it is worn, roughly repaired and, most interestingly, annotated throughout. This volume formed part of the collection of Wesleyana belonging to the Rev. Albert F. Hall that was given to the College by his widow in 1952.
One of the duties of a College Fellow was to preach sermons, a duty Wesley undertook with seriousness and a certain amount of controversy. This sermon on Job, Chapter vii, verse 7 (‘There the wicked cease from troubling, and there the weary be at rest’) was the first of Wesley’s sermons to be published.
The Wesley Collection copy of the sermon is bound in a volume of 34 tracts by Wesley belonging to William Vesey, Lincoln Fellow and Archivist and a friend of Wesley’s: the book contains Vesey’s distinctive bookplate and, as is often found in Vesey’s books, a list of contents in his hand. The tracts have been arranged chronologically, starting with this sermon.
In his short account of John Fletcher (London, 1786), Wesley described Fletcher’s departure in 1758: ‘before his quitting the country, he gave me a few printed papers, entitled, “A Christmas-box for Journeymen and Apprentices.” I mention it the rather, because I suppose, this was the first thing which ever he published’.
The small pamphlet of 8 pages illustrated here, entitled ‘A New Spiritual Christmas-box, to alarm the unconverted, convince the sinner, and comport the truly serious’, was found in the Wesley Collection bound at the end of a volume of discourses by John Cennick (1718-1755), the early Methodist and Moravian evangelist. It is uncertain whether this work is Fletcher’s actual publication or a later plagiarism by Cennick. This is the only known copy of this short work.
This antique walking stick once belonged to John Wesley, and the engraving ‘I. W.’ is visible on the brass handle. It was bequeathed to the College in 1965 by George Nixon Eeles, who matriculated at Lincoln in 1919. Wesley often travelled to his preaching commitments miles across the county on foot, and he notes in his diary his walks around the Grove at Lincoln with other Fellows and students.
John Wesley corresponded with his former student the Revd. James Hervey, who matriculated in 1731 and was closely allied with Wesley and the Holy Club from 1733. Wesley’s diary records that he read Hervey his sermon on at least one occasion, when he was due to preach at the University Church of St Mary’s in April 1733.