3rd Jan/27. The Quarter day; did not set off for Town early, owning to the rain & did not meet the brethren till near mid-day. At "Old Woman's Point" we had to encounter a tremendous sea, with a high wind "right a-head". It was very dangerous to be there in so small a canoe, but the man toiled hard, and be the blessing of God we landed safely. While in the above perilous circumstances, it was to me an unspeakable comfort to feel strongly assured that, should I there find a watery grave, I was then a child of God; & a sincere preacher of the Gospel, honoured with employment as a missionary. The loss of the Maria Mailboat on the 28th Feb. last year; with the Antigua missionaries on board, is a melancholy proof that "one event happeneth to the righteous & to the wicked"; and is to me, who had been in London with Mr1 & Mrs2 Jones, a very affecting theme. With the survivor, on that awful occasion, I deeply sympathise, and hope that she may be guided by the Divine hand through life's vicissitudes and sufferings. About sun-set we put to sea once more, and after a short passage of 2½ hours arrived in P. Town about eight o'clock.
4th Jan/27. The usual preaching evening at Layou - we put to sea & after going most of the way through a heavy swell which became worse, it was deemed unjustifiable to go further & we returned to P. Town where a large canoe with 4 or 5 men had been almost swamped and was damaged.
7th Sabbath. Had a pleasant passage to Layou - preached twice and had two good times. After morning service, renewed the covenant - an affecting season, may we remember our vows! Two candidates were received on trial.
8th The last year has been crowned with loving kindness & tender mercies to me, my dear little family & each of the Leeward Societies. After many deaths & expulsions each year they remained as follows:
|1825||Chblr & Layou||478||members|
|1826||Do & Do||537||Do & 10, on trial|
|Increase in 1826||...........||59|
Not fewer than 90 or 100 have been added to the Leeward societies during the last two years. May this year be more than ever prosperous, & to God shall be the glory. Have with considerable labor nearly completed a new Register of members, with husbands & wives names, if married, which will facilitate the taking of numbers and so forth at the end of the present year. I am to be removed hence at the approaching District Meeting & hope to leave every thing in order. Wherever my lot is cast, may the Lord favor me with success in my holy calling, and universal peace & love. Amen.
9th Jan/27. Held the usual Tuesday evening service & was blessed in my labours. The congregation was small, owing I think to the crop season, when the slaves are kept later at work.
10th Went to Mount Wynne, commenced with catechetical instruction & then preached to a large number young & old. In this place I do hope that much good will be done, as great attention is paid to the word preached & the Lord always sends us a blessing.
11th Jan/27. Went to & preached at Chateau-belair in the usual course - had an attentive & pretty numerous congregation considering the season. The great Master of assemblies condescended to manifest himself in the midst & to bless the word.
14th Sabbath. This was a day of peculiar trial, and in some circumstances also new: yet blessed be God in preaching his word & renewing the covenant in P. Town he afforded me a portion of strength and comfort. May the good seed take deeper root among the people & bear much fruit to the glory of God! Amen.
16th The regular preaching evening at P. Town was relieved by Mr Pope, who is here with his family on a visit previous to his return to England.
18th Preached at Layou & had a good time. Fever & ague have been rather frequent here of late and there now are several cases. May this visitation be sanctified!
20th Jan/27 Went to Town to fulfil an appointment on the Sabbath. Was well drenched with salt water at "the Point" the high wind against which we were rowing blew it plentifully over us. At night had a good band meeting i.e. for one so constituted.
21st Lord's-day. Found it deifying to my own soul to be engaged for God; he gave much liberty in preaching to the great congregation.
22nd After meeting the five o'clock congregation I prepared for home and arrived for breakfast about half past nine, in a wet condition having been in the rain, the effects of which are often fatal to health and life also.
23rd Preached in P. Town - the congregation much as usual. So also other circumstances.
25th Went to Chateaubelair, and had about the same hearers as on former occasions, and enjoyed my hallowed labour much as ordinarily. In the morning & evening as opportunity offers, I sow the good seed of the Gospel with an unsparing hand, hoping that both will prosper through the indispensable blessing of Almighty God, which as a mark of his approbation he graciously bestows upon me & my people.
26th Jan/27. Held a prayer meeting, and the Diving presence was manifested to our waiting spirits. Blessed be His holy name forever!
28th Sabbath - Set off to Chateaubelair was rowed thither by about half past eight. In the morning service I felt greatly assisted; and immediately afterward renewed the Covenant. Such a blessed effect of grace generally given I have not seen before on any congregation in this country. It is composed chiefly of slaves, from the sugar plantations. The evening service was also profitable, and in short was a good & successful day. I received eight persons on trial. May our God abundantly bless his word & continue, to us all, his grace and mercy.
Thomas Jones (1802-26) entered the Wesleyan itinerancy in 1824, at which time he was resident in the Brigg Circuit. Jones felt a call to the foreign missions and was sent to the West Indies. He was drowned in February 1826 along with four other Wesleyan missionaries when the ship carrying them to Antigua was wrecked. Jones was able to save the life of his wife, the only survivor of the wreck.
Source: Fletcher-Tooth collection (MARC), Minutes of Conference 1826 and manuscript list of ministerial candidates 1822 (MARC)
2. The following report was published in The Times on Monday April 24, 1826 (Issue 12949 Pg. 3 Col. C):
METHODIST MISSION TO ANTIGUA.
The following melancholy narrative occurs in a New York paper of the 29th ult.:—
"A most distressing and melancholy shipwreck occurred near this island the pastweek, attended with such circumstances as seem almost incredible, and we can only say, that for the wisest purposes, though often to us inscrutable, the Lord has done it.
"About four weeks since, there was a yearly general meeting at St. Kitt's of the Methodist missionaries from the neighbouring islands; from this place went the Rev. Mr. White, wife, three children, and servant; Rev. Mr. Hilliar, Rev. Mr. Oake, Rev. Mr. Jones, wife and infant child. They left St. Kitt's a few days since to return to the island, having added to their number Mr. ————, another missionary and his wife. The vessel in which they embarked called at Montserrat: the number of the mission family at that time amounting to 13 souls, as above, including one servant. At Montserrat, their friends advised them to leave the vessel in which they were, (being a dull sailer,) and go on board the mail-boat Maria, then ready to sail for this island. They did so; and a young lady also took passage with them. The schooner which they had left arrived here seasonably, and brought the baggage of the mission family, which they did not think best to take out, the ordinary passage being only a few hours. Some alarm, after the schooner's arrival, was felt for the safety of the mail-boat; but as the wind was very high, it was supposed that she had probably lost some of her sails, and put back. On Friday p.m. the 3d instant, however, word was brought to town, that part of the wreck was seen on the Weymouth,* with two persons on it. Two or three boats immediately went down to her, and fount it to be the wreck of the mail-boat Maria, and the only survivor of 21 souls was Mrs. Jones, in a state of insensibility. It appears that she had been placed by the Captain (Whitney), between the bow-sprit bitts, where she could not wash away. She was in her night dress only, with her husband's cloak or coat on, and a sailor's cap on her head. The body of Captain Whitney, the only one found, was lying near the wreck. He was buried yesterday. He had not been dead, probably, more than an hour, as he was seen on the bowsprit about two o'clock in the afternoon. Mrs. Jones is slowly recovering, and so far restored to her recollection as to say that she knows all the circumstances of the shipwreck; but the doctors forbid her being questioned, at present. The following circumstances, however, have been communicated by her: — The vessel struck on the reef in the night. Three or four days had elapsed when she was taken off. Mr. White, his wife, three children, and servant were all swept away together, clinging to each other; Mr. Hilliar attempted to swim to Sandy Island, and was drowned in her sight; her infant was washed away from her arms; her husband died in her lap, the night before she was taken off, and was washed away. As returning recollection opens to her the horrors of the scene she had witnessed, I am told she often exclaims, "Oh! Captain Whitney, why did he save me!" She must indeed be an unhappy lonely woman; and time can never efface from her remembrance this mournful event. She is, undoubtedly most to be pitied, for we have good reason to indulge the hope that her kind friends are in heaven; that the scenes of Weymouth shoal were but a passage to the haven of bliss. Dark, deep and mysterious, are the ways of a righteous and unerring Providence! With wonder and astonishment, we behold a delicate slender woman, of 20 years, for four days without sustenance, exposed to the inclemency of the weather, supported; while hardy seamen were dying around her, and, finally, the sole survivor of 21 persons! We see, in a few short hours, the whole mission family of this island, called from their earthly labours, but to receive, as we trust, a heavenly reward. But who can stay his hand? Or sho shall say to the Supreme Governor of the Universe, what doest thou? Shall not the Judge of the earth do right?"
*A shoal about four miles from the harbour, and only half a mile from a small island called Sandy Island.