Mother of John Wesley, Founder of Methodism
1669 – 1742 A.D.
Susanna Wesley, mother of John Wesley, the founder of Methodism. She was the youngest child of Dr. Annesley, a prominent dissenting minister, who gave every attention to her education. She learned Greek, Latin, French, logic and metaphysics, and was deeply interested in the absorbing religious discussions of the day.
At the age of twenty she married Samuel Wesley, a curate in London, with an income of sixty pounds a year. During the first twenty years of this marriage which extended over a period of forty-six years, Susanna bore her husband nineteen children, the fifteenth of which was John Wesley, destined to the the most famous preacher of his time. Because of the constant struggle with poverty, the task of educating the ten children who survived was left to Susanna, and for six hours a day through twenty years she continued this work. Her noted son followed her teachings, her will was law to him, her letters through college his oracles, her life was his blessed example. In her private meditations she writes: “I do intend to be more particularly careful of the soul of this child, that Thou hast so mercifully provided for, that I may do my endeavor to instil [sic] in his mind the principles of Thy true religion and virtue”
In 1710 she began to hold service every Sunday evening in the rectory kitchen for the benefit of her own children and servants. Others asked permission to come until she was preaching to large audiences, and this practice she continued for years in spite of much opposition and prejudice.
After she lost her husband in 1735 she remained to inspire her children until her own death in 1742. At her burial in Burnhill Fields, London, her son John preached one of his most eloquent and impressive sermons. She was his companion, his guide, his ideal woman. Isaac Taylor says:
“She was the mother of Methodism in a religious and moral sense; for, her courage, her submissiveness to authority, the high tone of her mind, its independence and self-control, the warmth of her devotional feelings, and the practical direction given to them, came up and were visibly repeated in the character and conduct of her son.”
Reference: Famous Women; An Outline of Feminine Achievement Through the Ages With Life Stories of Five Hundred Noted Women By Joseph Adelman. Copyright, 1926 by Ellis M. Lonow Company.