Methodist allegiance in South Nottinghamshire parishes 1770-1875
Woodcock, Anne C, (2015) Methodist allegiance in South Nottinghamshire parishes 1770-1875. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.
This study considers the nature of Methodist allegiance in four south Nottinghamshire parishes from the arrival of the denomination in the late eighteenth or early nineteenth century until about 1875. In this area, Methodism became strongly established against an inadequate Anglican church but nevertheless most individuals did not exhibit an exclusive commitment. Using records from the Newark, subsequently Bingham, Wesleyan Methodist circuit, relating to the Societies in three medium-sized villages and one small market town, and looking particularly at Methodist membership and decisions regarding choice of baptismal rite, the research shows the existence of both exogenous growth and continuing fluidity of allegiance from the early period until well beyond the mid-century point of the religious census. It demonstrates a previously unidentified, significant turnover in Methodist membership throughout the period, which occurred irrespective of apparent growth, stability or decline. This lends support to the growing body of evidence about both varying and dual denominational allegiance, in particular between the Wesleyan chapel and the parish church. The research further confirms this phenomenon in relation to baptismal decisions, where some committed Methodist families continued to use the Anglican rite and many varied their choice for different children. In investigating these facets of religious life, the study also establishes the existence of emerging religious competition during the nineteenth century, evidenced additionally in competitive church building, service patterns and the provision of education. Only by the last quarter of the century were denominational boundaries clearly hardening, particularly in the town of Bingham, but this thesis demonstrates that until then allegiance was neither exclusive nor consistent.
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