March 1825

The Market Place, Mountsorrel, Leicestershire
The Market Place, Mountsorrel, Leicestershire

25th March 1825 – The sad, but important day of our departure from Mountsorrell. The requisite preparations were made in due time, including a solemn consecration of ourselves and friends to
God, all sufficient; and we waited a brief space, amidst many symptoms of affectionate concern for each other, the arrival of a Coach designed to convey us through the first stage of our
wandering occupation. Shortly the rumbling wheels announced the anticipated moment, and we left, though not without a second farewell, especially from Mr. Wale, the father of my dear Wife; who
apparently in a strenuous effort to endure with fortitude his bereavement of an amiable and affectionate daughter, made his way through the crowd, to the side of the Vehicle, with a countenance
expressive of a confluence of emotions, and a heart that blest, as if an Angel had whispered him “’tis the last farewell! They shall see thy face no more“! [1] – The clear bright morning, pure as our motives in reference to the mission work, was quite in contrast with our mournful feelings and seemed designed to inspire a hope of success, and ultimately of return to friends so dear;
meantime we were hastened along and in an hour arrived at Leicester. Here, dear Sister R. [2], diffused in tears, took leave of us and we proceeded by another coach to Hinckly where we saw some
friends and thence to Birmingham, the same evening, where we lodged. This was a day, never to be forgotten; though a day of suffering, and of sacrifice, yet blessed be the Lord! It was a day of
grace: – and we could at any moment have declared with holy fortitude our unalterable purpose to unfurl the Redeemer’s banner in the Mission field.

“Should heaven command me to the farthest verge”
“Of the green earth; ———————————–“
“———————————–‘Tis nought to me;”
“Since God is ever present ever felt”
“In the void waste, as in the city full;”
“And where he vital breaths, there must be joy.”

26th March/25 – Took coach early, but did not arrive at Bristol till after dark. Were comfortably lodged at the house of Mrs Lucas, who together with her daughter did all in their power to make
us feel at home. The next being the Sabbath day, the…

27th March/25 – We attended Ebenezer Chapel [3] and heard the Rev. James Wood. At night I preached at St. Phillips Chapel [4] ; and Mrs L. on our way home, spoke of the good she had received at that
meeting. This also was a token of Good, and I felt thankful to the Lord who had enabled me to preach with effect, at least in some instance. During this day we were informed that tomorrow at
ten AM we must be on board our ship.

28th March/25. Early this morning I wrote to an old friend, and prepared our trunks for embarkation. The Preachers’ Messrs Wood, Slacker & Bricknell, were very kind to us, took the trouble
of procuring our other Luggage from the Carriers warehouse & of putting it on board. About the time appointed we reached “Cumberland Basin”, where all was in readiness to “tow out”; – and in
a few minutes we were moving a little down the river Severn, the Preachers, at least two of them and other friends accompanying us a few miles. My dear Wife & I were not alone as
missionaries: – Mr [5] & Mrs Woolley & 2 children were returning to the scene of their former labors, and Mr & Mrs Rathbone were going out to the same island to which we were appointed.
(St. Vincent.) The good ship, “Edward Colson” Capt. Edd Forster, was bound for Trinidad & partly freighted with building for a new chapel which Mr Woolley was authorised to erect in that
Island:- and for about 100 miles I believe we had the company of a Pilot and the ship was under his direction. His little Bark was following us to take him back again when his task was
preformed; and on his return he took letters from us to our dear friends in England, announcing our progress, comforts, hopes, etc.; fears we had none: but to peculiar feelings we were no
strangers. “Our much loved home”, and its felicities we were rapidly leaving perhaps for ever! – the wide western world, with it trials and dangers, was opening upon us with every favourable
breeze, and we could not avoid feeling that we had entered upon an entirely new sphere which would no doubt furnish unknown and unconquered difficulties. Blessed be God for a deep & lasting
sense of His goodness to us, for amidst all my dear wife and I were happy – sustained by Divine grace, and could at any time have expressed the courage thereby imparted, in the animated lines
of the Poet.

“——————–“With the Patriarch’s joy”
“Thy call I follow to a land unknown;”
“I trust thee, & know in whom I trust;”
“Or life, or death are equal, neither weighs;”
“All weight in this, & let me live to thee”!


Footnotes

1. Richard Wale never did see his daughter again. He died the day after the last entry in this journal. His epitaph in the churchyard at Rothley, Leicestershire, states: “Sacred to the Memory of Richard Wale late of Mountsorrel who died August 26th 1827 Aged 69 Years. O ye, whose cheek the tear of pity stains, Draw near with pious rev’rence and attend! … husband’s.” Although a portion of the inscription is obscured, it would appear to be the first verse of Robert Burns’ (1759-1796) poem Epitaph on my Ever Honoured Father:

O YE whose cheek the tear of pity stains,
Draw near with pious rev’rence, and attend!
Here lie the loving husband’s dear remains,
The tender father, and the gen’rous friend.

2. Mrs. Rebecca Brewin (née Wale; 1802-1862), Anna Wale’s younger sister. Another account of this departure is recorded in Memoirs of Mrs. Rebecca Wakefield, Missionary in East Africa by Robert Brewin (Andrew Crombie: London, 1888) as follows:

On a fine spring day near the end of March, in the year 1825, a stage-coach might have been seen drawn up before the door of Mr. Richard Wale, baker, of this town, not far from where Christ Church now stands, where it had stopped to take up two passengers. A large number of people stood gathered at the spot; for on this day Mountsorrel was for the first time to send forth one of her daughters, as the wife of a Christian Missionary, to labour, and as it proved, to die in a foreign land.

When, therefore, the Rev. William Fidler led forth his young and beautiful bride, dressed in the plain, neat Methodistic fashion of those days, followed to the coach door by her father and mother, her sister Rebecca, and other members of the family, the greatest interest was manifested by the crowd around; and a stranger, looking down upon the tearful scene from the top of the coach, would have rightly guessed that a loving family was about to suffer the loss of one of its choicest members, and the little community one of its most valued citizens. The last hand-shakings were soon over, and the last words of parting soon spoken. “Goodbye, William, take good care of Anna,” was Mrs. Wale’s adieu to her son-in-law, while her husband added sorrowfully, and with deep emotion (and, as events proved, with true foresight),”I shall never see you more,” and the coach rolled away on the white, hard road in the direction of Leicester, and was soon lost to sight.

Mrs. Rebecca Wakefield (née Brewin; 1844-1873) was Rebecca Brewin’s daughter and Anna Wale’s niece. She also married a missionary and, as the title suggests, served with her husband in East Africa.

3. Ebenezer Wesleyan Methodist Chapel was built on Old King Street in 1795 and pulled down for the Broadmead shopping centre after the Second World War. See Wesleyan and Independent Methodist Churches, Bristol for more information, including a photograph.

4. Built in 1817 it was also known as Old Market Street Chapel. Bristol Central Hall was eventually built on the site.

5. The Reverend Samuel P. Woolley; ordained 1806; died 1834.

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