Susannah (Annesley) Wesley

Susannah (Annesley) Wesley (abt. 1669 - abt. 1742)

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Susannah Wesley formerly Annesley
Born about in London, Englandmap
Ancestors ancestors
Daughter of and [mother unknown]
[sibling(s) unknown]
Wife of — married [location unknown]
Descendants descendants
Died about in London, Englandmap
Profile last modified | Created 26 May 2014
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Susannah (Annesley) Wesley is notable.
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  • daughter of Samuel Annesley & his second wife[1]
  • 12 Nov 1688 m. Samuel Wesley[1]
  • 19 children, 10 survived infancy[1]
  • did not believe King William was the legitimate king of England, which caused a dispute with her husband as he was an "ardent supporter" of the king.[1]
  • children: Samuel, Hetty, John, Molly, Nancy, Patty, Charles, Emily, Sukey, Kezia
  • had a brother the went to India (Greetham, p15)

It was said of Susanna that she was both "beautiful and accomplished, a woman of rare judgement and sterling piety." She was the mother of 19 children, only 10 of which reached maturity. Her son John Wesley is well known as a founder of the Methodist Church. He said of his mother that she would retire everyday for one hour of prayer and meditation from age 17-72.

  • lived with her children's families after Samuel's death, beginning with Emily at her school in Gainsborough and ending with John[1]

Susanna Wesley had a strong influence over her many children. On several occasions her husband was absent. Susanna made sure that she spent time separately with of her children each day, taking care of their spiritual and moral development. It is appropriate that she has been called the mother of Methodism, because of her undoubted positive spiritual influence, in particular, on her sons John and Charles. 16:46, 9 April 2018 (EDT)16:46, 9 April 2018 (EDT)16:46, 9 April 2018 (EDT)16:46, 9 April 2018 (EDT)16:46, 9 April 2018 (EDT)~ Added by Carr-8686

Born 20 January 1669 Died 23 July 1742 (aged 73) London, England Occupation "Mother of Methodism" Spouse(s) Samuel Wesley Children Samuel Wesley (the Younger), John Wesley, Charles Wesley Emilia, Susanna, Mary, Mehetabel, Anne, Martha, Kezia Parent(s) Samuel Annesley, Mary White

Susanna Wesley (née Annesley; 20 January 1669 - 23 July 1742) was the daughter of Dr Samuel Annesley and Mary White, and the mother of John and Charles Wesley.

“…although she never preached a sermon or published a book or founded a church, (she) is known as the Mother of Methodism. Why? Because two of her sons, John Wesley and Charles Wesley, as children consciously or unconsciously will, applied the example and teachings and circumstances of their home life.”[1]

Family Susanna Wesley was the 25th of 25 children. Her father, Dr. Samuel Annesley, was a dissenter of the established church of England. At the age of 13, Susanna stopped attending her father's church and joined the official Church of England.

She and Samuel Wesley were married on 11 November 1688. Samuel was 26 and Susanna was 19.[2]

Susanna and Samuel Wesley had 19 children. Nine of her children died as infants. Four of the children who died were twins. A maid accidentally smothered one child. At her death, only eight of her children were still alive.

Personal life Susanna experienced many hardships throughout her life. Her husband left her and the children for over a year because of a minor dispute.

To her absent husband, Susanna Wesley wrote:

I am a woman, but I am also the mistress of a large family. And though the superior charge of the souls contained in it lies upon you, yet in your long absence I cannot but look upon every soul you leave under my charge as a talent committed to me under a trust. I am not a man nor a minister, yet as a mother and a mistress I felt I ought to do more than I had yet done. I resolved to begin with my own children; in which I observe the following method: I take such a proportion of time as I can spare every night to discourse with each child apart. On Monday I talk with Molly, on Tuesday with Hetty, Wednesday with Nancy, Thursday with Jacky, Friday with Patty, Saturday with Charles.

Samuel Wesley spent time in jail twice due to his poor financial abilities, and the lack of money was a continual struggle for Susanna. Their house was burned down twice; during one of the fires, her son, John, nearly died and had to be rescued from the second story window. She was the primary source of her children's education.

After the second fire, Susanna was forced to place her children into different homes for nearly two years while the rectory was rebuilt. During this time, the Wesley children lived under the rules of the homes they lived in. Susanna was mortified that her children began to use improper speech and play more than study.

“Under no circumstances were the children permitted to have any lessons until they had reached their fifth year, but the day after their fifth birthday their formal education began. They attended classes for six hours and on the very first day they were supposed to learn the whole of the alphabet. All her children except two managed this feat, and these seemed to Susanna to be very backward.”[3] “The children got a good education. Daughters included, they all learnt Latin and Greek and were well tutored in the classical studies that were traditional in England at that time.”[4]

Wesley's gravestone in Bunhill Fields burial ground During a time when her husband was in London, defending a friend against charges of heresy, he had appointed a locum to bring the message. The man’s sermons revolved solely around repaying debts. The lack of diverse spiritual teaching caused Susanna to assemble her children Sunday afternoon for family services. They would sing a psalm and then Susanna would read a sermon from either her husband's or father's sermon file followed by another psalm. The local people began to ask if they could attend. At one point there were over two hundred people who would attend Susanna’s Sunday afternoon service while the Sunday morning service dwindled to nearly nothing.[5]

Wesley practised daily devotions throughout her life, and in her reply to her son Charles's letter, she addressed her experience of the depravity of her human nature, and the grace of God. The letter also shows that she has been fully awakened to the spiritual enjoyments for many years, with which her sons were only recently made acquainted.[6]

Her husband Samuel spent his whole life and all of the family’s finances on his exegetical work of the Book of Job. However, his work was not remembered and had little impact on his family other than as a hardship. In contrast Susanna wrote several pieces that would be fundamental in the education of their children. “In addition to letters, Susanna Wesley wrote meditations and scriptural commentaries for her own use. She wrote extended commentaries on the Apostles Creed, the Lord's Prayer, the Ten Commandments. Alas many of these were lost in the rectory fire, but many survive. The most accessible means to her writings is Charles Wallace's excellent and important Susanna Wesley, The Complete Writings.”[1]

Susanna was buried at Bunhill Fields in London.[7]

In film In 1954, the Radio and Film Commission of the British Methodist Church, in cooperation with J. Arthur Rank, produced the film John Wesley. The film was a live-action re-telling of the story of the life of John Wesley, with Leonard Sachs as John Wesley and Curigwen Lewis as Susanna Wesley. [8]

In 2009, a more ambitious feature film, Wesley, was released by Foundery Pictures, starring Burgess Jenkins as John Wesley, June Lockhart as Susanna Wesley, and R. Keith Harris as Charles Wesley. [9]

References Pellowe, Susan. Susanna Wesley Biography. Retrieved 4 Feb. 2007. Whitaker, Beverly. "Susanna Wesley". Retrieved 2007-02-04. Haddal, Ingvar. John Wesley. New York: Abingdon Press, 1961, pg.14 Haddal, 1961, pg.15 Haddal, 1961, pg.20-21 The Life of the Rev. Charles Wesley: Comprising a Review of His Poetry; Sketches of the Rise and Progress of Methodism; with Notices of Contemporary Events and Characters, Volume 1, Mason, 1841, pg. 269-271. Susanna Annesley Wesley at Find a Grave "John Wesley (1954)". The Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 23 April 2017. "Wesley (2009)". The Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 24 May 2010. Further reading Clarke, Eliza. Susanna Wesley. London: W. H. Allen, 1886. Kirk, Rev John. Mother of the Wesleys. London: Jarrold, 1868. Ludwig, Charles. Mother of John and Charles: Susanna Wesley. Milford: Mott Media, 1984. McMullen, Michael. Prayers and Meditations of Susanna Wesley. Peterborough: Methodist Publishing House, 2000. Newton, John A. Susanna: Susanna Wesley and the Puritan Tradition in Methodism. ISBN 0-7162-0562-9. Rogal, Samuel J. The Epworth Women: Susanna Wesley and her Daughters. Retrieved 30 April 2009. Wakeley, J. B. Anecdotes of the Wesleys: Illustrative of Their Character and Personal History. New York: Nelson & Phillips, 1869. Wesley, Susanna. Susanna Wesley: The Complete Writings. ed., Charles Wallace Jr. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1997.

16:46, 9 April 2018 (EDT)16:46, 9 April 2018 (EDT)16:46, 9 April 2018 (EDT)16:46, 9 April 2018 (EDT)16:46, 9 April 2018 (EDT)16:46, 9 April 2018 (EDT)16:46, 9 April 2018 (EDT)16:46, 9 April 2018 (EDT)16:46, 9 April 2018 (EDT)16:46, 9 April 2018 (EDT)16:46, 9 April 2018 (EDT)~ Susanna Wesley, the mother of Methodism, was the daughter of a Puritan minister, who has been called "The St. Paul of the Nonconformists." Her father, Samuel Annesley, nephew of the first Earl of Anglesea, was born at Haseley, in the Shakespeare country, in 1620, and educated at Queen's College, Oxford. He enjoyed great prominence as a preacher until the Restoration drove him from his pulpit in St. Giles, the largest congregation in London. His means saved him from distress, and made him a blessing to many of his dissenting brethren. He gathered a flourishing congregation in London and ministered to it for many years.

The second wife of this leading London divine was a daughter of John White, a member of the Long Parliament, and a man of the highest repute. She was a woman of rare accomplishments and remarkable piety. The youngest of her children, Susanna, who became the mother of John and Charles Wesley, was born on January 20, 1669, in Spital Yard, between Bishopsgate Street and Spital Square, London.

Her home was probably in the last house, which blocks up the lower end of the yard. Here Susanna Annesley spent her girlhood, studied Church controversies, and asserted her personal decision, and hence she went forth to her wedding with Samuel Wesley. "How many children has Dr. Annesley?" inquired a friend of Thomas Manton, who had just baptized one of the family. "I believe it is two dozen, or a quarter of a hundred," was the startling reply.

Susanna, the youngest, was perhaps the most gifted of the many beautiful and well-educated daughters. Her sister Judith was a very handsome and sturdy-minded woman, whose portrait was painted by Sir Peter Lely; Elizabeth, who married John Dunton, was lovely in person and character, and Susanna shared largely in the family gift of beauty. She was slim and graceful, and retained her good looks and symmetry of figure to old age.

The best authenticated portrait of her is one that was taken in her old age and engraved under the direction of her son John. It shows "delicate aquiline features, eyes still vivid and expressive under well-marked brows; a physiognomy at once benignant and expressive." Her letters reveal "a perfect mistress of English undefiled," some knowledge of French authors, and a logical mind well read in divinity.

The secret of her deep spirituality is revealed in one of her letters to her son: "I will tell you what rule I observed in the same case, when I was young, and too much addicted to childish diversions, which was this-never to spend more time in any matter of mere recreation in one day than I spent in private religious duties." Bishop McTyeire s eloquent tribute to her virtues, graces, and gifts does no more than justice to this remarkable woman: "When I was in Milan I visited the church where Ambrose preached and where he was buried; but I thought more of his patroness, the pious Helena, than of him. I thought of Augustine, and of that mother whose prayers persevered for his salvation; and in the oldest town on the Rhine I could not help being interested in the legend of Ursula and her eleven thousand virgins. But greater than Helena, or Monica, or Ursula, there lived a woman in England, known to all Methodists, and of whom in the presence of those I have mentioned it might be said, 'Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou hast excelled them all.

' I mean the wife of the rector of Epworth, and the conscientious mother of his nineteen children; she that transmitted to her illustrious son her genius for learning, for order, for government, and I might almost say for godliness; who shaped him by her councils, sustained him by her prayers, and, in her old age, like the spirit of love and purity, presided over his modest household; and, when she was dying, said to her children, 'Children, as soon as the spirit leaves the body gather round my bedside and sing a hymn of praise.'"

Susanna Annesley, at the age of thirteen, was interested in the ecclesiastical and doctrinal controversies of the day. With remarkable independence she made up her mind to renounce Dissent and enter the Established Church, one year after Samuel Wesley had come to the same decision.

It is possible that the two ecclesiastical conversions were not unconnected. Young Wesley was seven or eight years older than his future bride, and the friendship had already begun which was to ripen into love. In one of her later private meditations she mentions it among her greatest mercies that she was "married to a religious orthodox man; by him first drawn off from the Socinian heresy."

The same feeling is expressed in the words of the epitaph from her pen inscribed on Samuel Wesley's tomb at Epworth: "As he lived, so he died, in the true Catholic faith of the Holy Trinity in Unity; and that Jesus Christ is God Incarnate, .and the only Saviour of mankind." It was natural that the thoughtful, fervent girl should be strongly influenced by one by whom she had been settled in a belief of such vital importance.

"If the Puritans," says Dr. Rigg, "could not transmit to her lover and herself their ecclesiastical principles, at least they transmitted a bold independence of judgment and of conduct."

The girl of thirteen expressed her opinions against the Church of her distinguished father, however, with such tact and sweetness of spirit as to win his consent to her confirmation at St. Paul's. She was at once so decided and gentle, and he so tolerant, that the love between the father and daughter never lost its strength and charm.

"The Puritan movement in which she had been reared," says Buoy, "went with her into the Church of England. She entered it essentially a Puritan and that stern, heroic faith, softened by the grace of God, held her all her life. There was a providence leading this woman back to Anglicanism as plain as that which led the mother of Moses back to the court of Egypt, and she, like Jochebed, had her ministry--to train a child who should set the people free."

"The Wesley's mother," says Isaac Taylor, "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 its 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 sons."

We left the young curate and his wife in their lodgings in London, where they "boarded without going into debt." Here their son Samuel was born, who became the poet and satirist of Westminster School and master of Tiverton Grammar School. In the autumn of 1690 the Marquis of Normanby presented Wesley to the living of South Ormsby, in Lincolnshire, worth 'a350 a year.

Wesley himself describes the parsonage as "a mean cot, composed of reeds and clay." His family increased "one additional child per annum." Again his pen came to the rescue, and Wesley published his Life of Christ, dedicating it to Queen Mary. At South Ormsby Wesley also published his treatise on the Hebrew points.

Here also he wrote much for "The Athenian Gazette; or Casuistical Mercury, resolving all the nice and curious questions proposed by the ingenious." One third of the Gazette at this time was from Wesley's pen. About the beginning: of 1697 Samuel Wesley was presented to the living of Epworth, in Lincolnshire, "in accordance with some wish or promise of the late queen;" here he continued for thirty-eight years, and here John Wesley was born on June 17, 1703, O. S., the fifteenth of the rector's nineteen children.

John Benjamin appears to have been his full name when christened, but he never used the middle name or initial. It was not all sunshine, however, in the Epworth home. The rector grew vexed because his wife would not respond "amen" to his prayer for the king. "Sukey, if we serve two kings, we must have two beds," and, as impulsively as when he left London for Oxford, Samuel Wesley hurried away to the London Convocation, to return only at the death of the king as if nothing unpleasant had ever occurred.

There were many conflicts between the rash rector and his ungodly parishioners. They hated him, and he knew not how to win their love. Debts crowded in upon him. In 1705, when John was two years old, his father was arrested in the churchyard for a debt of 'a330 and hurried off to jail. His good wife sent him her rings to sell, but he returned them, believing the Lord would provide otherwise.

We see him at work among his "fellow jailbirds" in Lincoln Castle reading prayers and preaching, even securing books to distribute among the prisoners. He writes: "I am now at rest. I am' come to the haven where I've long expected to be." And again: "A jail is a paradise in comparison of the life I led before I came hither. No man has worked truer for bread than I have done, and few have lived harder, or their families either."

But the storm beat more fiercely upon the rectory, for food was hard to find, the crop of the previous year having been a failure. The angry neighbors now burned the flax, stabbed the three cows that had given milk to the family, and wished "the little devils "--the children in the rectory--would be turned out to starve. The delicate, brave-hearted wife toiled on, and kept together the half-fed and half-clothed children. "Tell me, Mrs. Wesley," said the Archbishop of York, "whether you have ever really wanted bread." "I will freely own to your grace," she replied, "that strictly speaking, I never did want bread. But then I had so much care to get it before it was eat and to pay for it afterward as have often made it unpleasant to me; and I think to have bread on such terms is the next degree of wretchedness to having none at all."

Friends came to the relief of the rector, and through the influence of the Duke of Buckingham he was presented with 'a325. After three months' imprisonment he returned to his parish and his books. Then came the enemy's torch. The rectory went down in ashes, and only the good providence of God saved the lives of John and his mother. It was on Wednesday night, the 9th of February, 1709. Mrs. Wesley was ill in her room, with her two eldest daughters as companions.

Bettie, the maid, and five younger children were in the nursery, while Hettie was alone in the small bedroom next to the granary, where the newly threshed wheat and corn were stored. The rector left his study at half-past ten, locked the room that contained his precious manuscripts and the records of the family and parish, and retired to rest in a room near to his wife.

It was a wild night. A howling northeast storm obscured the half moon. The fire crept up the straw roof and dropped upon the bed where Hetty slept. Scorched and alarmed, she ran to her father's room, while voices on the street cried, "Fire! fire!" The father warned his wife and daughters, helped them down stairs, and wakened those in the nursery.

Bettie escaped with Charles in her arms, while three children followed. The brave father helped them into the yard and over the garden wall, and back to the house he rushed, trying in vain to find his wife, He tried to reach the study and failed. A dismal cry came out from the flames, "Help me !" "Jacky" had awakened to find the ceiling of his room on fire.

The distracted father tried to force himself up the stairs, but streams of flame beat him back. He and the children committed the boy's soul to God. Within, Mrs. Wesley, lost in the excitement, sought the opened front doors, but was forced back by the blinding sheet of fire and smoke. At a third effort she was literally blown down by the flames. Calmly she sought divine help. Wrapped in a cloak about her chest, she waded knee-deep through the flames to the door. Her limbs were scorched, and her face was black with smoke, so that when found by her frantic husband he did not know her.

John, not yet six years old, climbed on a chest to the window, and cried to be taken out. One man was helped up over the shoulders of another, and the child leaped into his arms. At the same moment the roof fell in. The boy was put into his mother's arms. The rector, in his search for his wife, found her holding the child, who by this time he had thought was burned to ashes. He could not believe his eyes until several times he had kissed the boy.

Mrs. Wesley said to him, "Are your books safe?" "Let them go," he replied, "now that you and all the children are preserved." He called on those near him to praise God, saying, "Come, neighbors, let us kneel down; let us give thanks to God. He has given me all my eight children. Let the house go; I am rich enough."

To John Wesley for more than fourscore years this event was the initial of his vivid reminiscences. There was no place found in his thought from that time onward for a doubt of a Supreme Being whose mercy interposes in moments of danger. The mother's escape was as miraculous as that of her celebrated son. In later years he caused a vignette to be engraved of a burning house, beneath his portrait, and these words underscored: "Is not this a brand plucked from the burning?"


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Greetham, Mary. "Susanna Wesley Mother of Methodism." Foundery Press, Great Britain, 1988.
  • Booklet "Epworth" by W. Le Cato Edwards
  • Susanna Wesley
  • Susanna Wesley Mother of Methodism
  • Charles Wallace, jun., ‘Wesley , Susanna (1669–1742)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, May 2010 accessed 5 May 2017. This is a subscription site but access is free to readers of British libraries whose library subscribes.

Pellowe, Susan. Susanna Wesley Biography. Retrieved 4 Feb. 2007. Whitaker, Beverly. "Susanna Wesley". Retrieved 2007-02-04. Haddal, Ingvar. John Wesley. New York: Abingdon Press, 1961, pg.14 Haddal, 1961, pg.15 Haddal, 1961, pg.20-21 The Life of the Rev. Charles Wesley: Comprising a Review of His Poetry; Sketches of the Rise and Progress of Methodism; with Notices of Contemporary Events and Characters, Volume 1, Mason, 1841, pg. 269-271. Susanna Annesley Wesley at Find a Grave "John Wesley (1954)". The Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 23 April 2017. "Wesley (2009)". The Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 24 May 2010.


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On 5 Nov 2017 at 18:17 GMT Christopher Decker wrote:

Annesley-158 and Annesley-91 appear to represent the same person because: They are the same person.

Susannah is 22 degrees from SJ Baty, 24 degrees from Orville Redenbacher and 9 degrees from Victoria of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.

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