Methodism arrived in Jersey via Newfoundland, where early preachers met Jerseymen involved in the cod trade.
Pierre Le Sueur
Lawrence Coughlan introduced Methodism to Carbonear and Harbour Grace in Newfoundland in 1765. Among his converts were Pierre Le Sueur, who had a small fishing station, and Jean Tentin, of Huguenot descent.
They began to preach when they returned to Jersey in 1775, and were joined four years later by John Brown, from Poole, who set himself up in a cellar at Le Sueur’s house at 22 Hill Street. Because of his beliefs, Pierre Le Sueur was opposed by his family, and his business partner left him. Business declined and he was left with few friends.
Initially services were in French, which did not suit Methodist soldiers sent to join the island garrison and John Wesley responded to their request for an English-speaking preacher in 1783 by sending Robert Carr Brackenbury.
He held services at 3 Royal Square, the home of Philippe Perchard, and then moved to La Chapelle des Pas, a privately owned chapel on South Hill, which would eventually be demolished to make way for Fort Regent.
By 1784 Jersey was listed by the Methodist Church as a mission station, and John Wesley visited the island in 1787, staying ten days at 15 Old Street.
Brackenbury was joined in his work by a Jersey layman, Jean de Quetteville, who carried Methodism to the country parishes and later to Guernsey and Alderney; for the missionary spirit was evident from the outset. Among others who joined the movement were Abraham John Bishop, son of a Dorset father and Jersey mother, and partner in the firm of Bishop, Chevalier and Bishop, who were merchants with trading links in many parts of the world, and Marie-Louise Carcaux, daughter of a sea-captain, Jean Carcaux, and his wife Judith Cartault, both of Huguenot descent, who married and converted Francois Jeune, grandfather of the future bishop of Peterborough.
One of the most famous of the early Methodist preachers in Jersey was Adam Clarke, who would later become President of the Methodist Conference. He was born in Ireland and was appointed to Jersey by John Wesley in 1786 because of his knowledge of French. He was well received and entertained in the family of Henry De Jersey. Although Clarke returned to England with John Wesley after his 1787 visit, he was reappointed to Jersey and remained for another two years before transferring to Bristol.
The story is told that one day in 1786 he walked across the sands from St Helier to St Aubin with Brackenbury and went on to spend considerable time there, trying to overcome the fierce opposition to the Methodist cause.
Members met in a shed in the yard of Les Vaux, the home of Francois Jeune (whose grandson became Dean of Jersey and Later Bishop of Peterborough). This meeting place was frequently attacked by the mob and attempts were even made to destroy the house.
Clarke was howled down when he preached in the open air. The Jeunes lent a shed at their home at Les Vaux in St Aubin and fitted it with a pulpit and benches. On one occasion shots were fired through a window, on another the mob, toughened no doubt by experience on privateers, arrived with sticks, swords and forks to the sound of drums, fifes and trumpets. On one occasion pulpit and benches were carried down to the harbour and tied to the shrouds of vessels; but the Jeunes persevered.
Opposition became more violent when Clarke persuaded Methodists not to do military training on Sundays. Drills were held every Sunday after morning service, but militiamen who had become Methodists believed that they should not be forced to drill on the Sabbath.
Many were prepared to pay the fine for non-attendance, but their numbers were such that the efficiency of regiments was affected and prison sentences began to be imposed instead of fines. As the problem worsened, sanctions became tougher. In May 1796, after three successive defauts, Francois Jeune was banished from the Island for three vears. In 1798 his son was imprisoned with other laymen, and two ministers were also banished.
An influential deputation to the Privy Council of leading English Methodists, supported by William Wilberforce MP, and accompanied by Pierre Le Sueur from Jersey protested that, while the Jersey Methodists were willing to be placed in the front of the battle on any day at any hour, they could not 'consistent with their views and sentiments, consent to learn the military exercises or merely go through the military evolutions on the Sabbath Day'.
The Privy Council refused to support the States' high-handed approach, the Act was rejected and the Methodists were allowed to do their drill on weekdays.
When La Chapelle des Pas proved too small for the growing congregation and the States refused to allow the Methodists to buy a new property au nom de la societe, Abraham John Bishop bought a house on what is now the corner of Don Street and King Street and it was modified to form a chapel, which was used until 1813, when a new chapel was built in Don Street.
The price was £400, of which Brackenbury paid more than half. The Bishop family added about £105, and thus, with the necessary alterations made, the Methodists had a place of their own which served them for 24 years.
As the English language became more popular in Jersey the Methodist Church was split into two, the English Circuit and the French Circuit. Later other groups, such as the Primitive Methodists, appeared.
The period from 1790 to 1912 saw 42 Methodist churches built in the Island. The largest, Wesley Grove Church, formerly known as Grove Place Wesleyan Chapel, was built in 1847 with a seating capacity of 1,450 and was part of the French Circuit. The total cost of construction was £8,000, which took 34 years to raise.
- Where was the Hotel de Ville?, the Methodist chapel which became an early Town Hall
- Methodist ministers in Jersey
- Methodist chapels and the community
|St Helier||St Martin||St Ouen|
|The Bay||St Helier Methodist Centre|
Weslyan Chapels in the Channel Islands from 1784 to 1884.
|Church||Opened||Language||Preacher(s) at opening|
|King Street, St Helier||1790||AF|
|St Ouen||2 December 18809||F||De Quetteville|
|Six Roads, St Lawrence||31 December 1811||F||De Quetteville, H Mahy|
|Don Street, St Helier||3 January 1813||AF||H Mahy, A Ollivier, W Pearson|
|St Aubin||12 October 1817||AF||H Mahy, Th Rowlands|
|St Martin||13 February 1820||F||P Le Sueur, F Guiton|
|Les Freres, St John||11 November 1821||F||P Le Sueur, F Guiton, E. Batty|
|St Peter||27 November 1825||F||J de Putron, D Robin|
|St Brelade||1 January 1826||F||J de Putron, J Newton|
|Bethel, St Clement||2 July 1826||F||D Robin, J du Putron, Cotton|
|Ebenezer, Trinity||1 October 1826||F||J de Putron, D Robin, J Newton|
|Sion, St John||24 June 1827||F||A Ollivier, P Le Sueur, J de Putron|
|Wesley Street, St Helier||30 December 1827||A||J Newton, J Akerman|
|Bethlehem, St Mary||2 August 1829||F||A Ollivier, P Le Sueur, D Robin|
|Salem, Grouville||11 March 1832||F||Ph Tougis|
|Galaad, St Lawrence||14 October 1832||F||P Le Sueur, P Tourgis|
|Augres, Trinity||30 June 1833||F||H de Jersey, F Guiton|
|Eden, St Saviour||15 September 1833||F||Ph Tourgis, A Ollivier, F Guiton|
|La Rocque, Grouville||4 November 1838||F||Ph Tourgis|
|Gorey, Grouville||29 February 1840||A||N Sibley, E Neel, Th Saunders|
|Carmel, Trinity||14 January 1844||F||Ph Tourgis, F Guiton, D Robin|
|First Tour, St Lawrence||28 December 1847||A|
|Grove Place, St Helier||10 October 1847||F||J Beaumont, F Puaux|
|St Martin||5 January 1851||F||Tougis, Neel, Handcock|
|Six Roads, St Lawrence||15 September 1861||F||M Gallienne, C Copoke, Ph Tougis|
|Bethesda, St Peter||30 August 1868||F||Ph Tourgis, Ph Hocquard, Ph Le Gresley|
|St Aubin||19 August 1868||A||R Leake, Ph Tourgis, R Hardy, R Roberts|
|Seaton Place, St Helier||13 November 1868||A||J Bedford, R Hardy, A Rees, CE Bateman, M Gallienne|
|St Ouen||23 August 1871||F||M Gallienne, AJ Dupuy|
|Georgetown||18 June 1873||F||P Lucas|
|Wesley Street, St Helier||5 April 1873||A||JS Spencer, WM Punshon|
|Sion, St John||28 September 1881||F||M Lelievre, F Puaux, DA de Mouilpied, J Hocart|
- Histoire du Methodisme dans les Isles de la Manche by Francois Guiton, published around the 1840s
- Histoire du Methodisme dans les Isles de la Manche by M Le Lievre (1885)
- Methodism in the Channel Islands by R D Moore, largely a translation of Le Lievre, published in the 1950s