Samuel Wesley’s Grave
Samuel Wesley was born on the 17th December 1662 and died on the 25th April 1735. He took up the post of Rector at St. Andrews Church in Epworth in 1697. Him and his family lived in what is now known as the Old Rectory on Rectory Street. He did not integrate himself well with locals due to being a staunch royalist, tory and academic. The people of the Isle of Axholme had held a great mistrust of the Royals and anyone who supported them since King Charles I commissioned Dutch engineer Cornelius Vermuyden to drain the Isle and Hatfield Chase. This led to residents losing many of the land rights they had used over the previous centuries. It was rumoured that locals tried to drive the Wesley family from Epworth by setting fire to the rectory building in 1709 however there is no evidence to confirm this. Samuel commissioned a large brick building to be rebuilt in its place, using much of his own money he got into debt which was still not settled when he died. His wife Susanna had to sell much of their furniture to settle the debt. Samuel is buried in the graveyard at St. Andrews Church. It is said his son, John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement, preached his sermons whilst standing on this grave after being denied entry into the church.
Image and text copyright of Isle of Axholme and Hatfield Chase Landscape Partnership.