Margaret Adams, the daughter of John Adams and his wife Ann, was born on February 27, 1799 and was baptised on March 25, 1799 in Morwenstow, Cornwall. She was one of the early female itinerant preachers, beginning in 1818, and at times accompanied William O’Bryan. Margaret was subsequently assigned to Truro Circuit, with Andrew Cory and Grace Mason in 1819 and to Canworthy Water in 1820, alongside Richard Sedwell.
She was described by Bourne as a “female preacher of considerable repute”. Following the 1821 Conference at Ebenezer Chapel, Shebbear, Margaret Adams spoke in the morning, on Sunday, August 12, 1821, at a camp meeting on Lake Moor, along with Brs. W. Metherell and W. Reed; where “It was thought about 2,000 attended.”, as documented by James Thorne.
Margaret became ill with scrofula, or tuberculous cervical adenitis; which is commonly caused by Mycobacterium bovis in areas with a high prevalence of tuberculosis in cattle. She was listed in the Minutes of 1821 without an assigned circuit, most likely secondary to failing health, and was perhaps a supernumerary.
Near the end of her life, Margaret was visited by Ann Mason on June 3,1822. Ann’s entry in her diary for the visit is as follows:
“I called on M. Adams, who is verging on eternity. It was truly good to be with her. Before I left, she took my hand, and said, “And you and I shall surely stand with Him on Zion’s hill. Oh! what a joyful meeting there.” At this prospect her soul was so filled with joy, that she could proceed no further; and thus we parted, both swallowed up in God.”
Margaret Adams died the following month on July 26, 1822 in Hartland, Devon. As described by Swift, her death was recorded in the Minutes of the 1822 Conference “in the usual way”. She was one of three women that died during active work as an itinerant preacher, with the others being Ann Potter (d. 1835) and Jane Gardner (d. 1841).
She was buried in the cemetery at Edistone Chapel; with her headstone being one of three remaining markers. The chapel, built in 1878, replaced a previous old chapel that was in a “state of dilapidation”. The chapel is now a private residence.
Beckerlegge, Oliver A. United Methodists Ministers and Their Circuits: Being an Arrangement in Alphabetical Order of the Stations of Ministers of the Methodist New Connexion, Bible Christians, Arminian Methodists, Protestant Methodists, Wesleyan Methodist Association, Wesleyan Reformers United Methodist Free Churches and the United Methodist Church, 1797-1932. London: Epworth Press, 1968. pg. 2, 55, 85, 156, 186, 209.
Bourne, F.W. The Bible Christians: Their Origins and History 1815-1900. 2nd edition. Stoke on Trent: Tentmaker Publications, 2004. pg. 70, 71, 80, 102.
Edistone Chapel Cemetery, Edistone, Devon, England. 50°58’08.8”N 4°29’42.7”W. https://goo.gl/maps/kTJLwnJQWFG2
England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975, database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:N1LC-FQK : 30 December 2014), Margaret Adams, 25 Mar 1799; citing Moorwinstow, Cornwall, England, reference ; FHL microfilm 90,233. [Accessed 5 Jan 2017].
Freeman, Ann, Henry Freeman. A Memoir of the Life and Ministry of Ann Freeman, A Faithful Servant of Jesus Christ and an Account of her Death by her Husband. London: Harvey and Darton. 1826. pg. 37.
Grzybowski, Stefan, Edward A. Allen. “History and Importance of Scrofula.” Lancet. 346 (1995): 1472-1474.
Mills, Joan. What Are Our Thoughts on Women Preachers? The Female Itinerant Preachers of the Bible Christian Church. (Available: https://dcx0k27cd6yp9.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/The-Female-Itinerant-Preachers-of-the-Bible-Christian-Church.pdf) n.d. pg. 6. [Accessed 28 Dec 2016]
Spencer, R. “Kilkhampton Circuit.” Bible Christian Magazine. 57.10 (1878): 474.
Swift, Wesley F. “The Women Itinerant Preachers of Early Methodism.” Proceedings of the Wesley Historical Society. 29.12 (1953): 76-83.
Thorne, James, John Thorne. James Thorne, of Shebbear, A Memoir: Compiled from his Diary and Letters, by his Son. London: Bible Christian Bookroom. 1873. pg. 165-166.
Posted by James M. Bowen, January 2017