Primitive Methodism in Shropshire, 1820-1900
This thesis extends our understanding of the history of the Primitive Methodist Connexion by examining the denomination in a part of the country - Shropshire - in which it enjoyed considerable success during the nineteenth century, but on which there has been very little research. It takes as its starting point the relative lack of historical research on the Methodist circuit, a crucial innovation in religious provision, which gave Wesleyan Methodism and its subsequent offshoots considerable flexibility to coordinate their work in a highly effective way. To expand our understanding of Primitive Methodism in Shropshire, the structure and organisation of the Primitive Methodist circuit is outlined, and the nature of the experience provided for its followers is examined. The socio-economic profile of Primitive Methodist followers is explored and a close correlation between the social background of the preachers and their congregations is established. The factors underlying the denomination's success in the county are examined, and its progress in relation to other religious bodies is analysed. The effects of changing missionary tactics, internal dissension, sub-division and chapel building are investigated. Particular attention is paid to denominational administration, local governance, and changes in the spatial structures of circuits, as Primitive Methodism moved from early evangelistic enthusiasm towards consolidation as a major denomination.