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In Their Own Words

December 03, 1737

John Wesley Departed from Georgia

William Stephens recorded in his journal that John Wesley had left Georgia, despite being ordered to stay and face charges against him in court. Stephens was not impressed with the men who left with Wesley:

“Notwithstanding all Precaution that was taken, it was known this Morning, that Mr. Wesley went off last night, and with him Coates a Constable, Gough a Tything-man, and one Campbell a Barber. This surprized most People (even many of those who wished him best) that he should take such Company with him ; for there scarce could be found Men more obnoxious ; Coates especially was, and had been a long while one of the principal Fomentors of Mischief, a busy Fellow, always taking upon him in Court to be an Advocate and Pleader for any Delinquent; going from House to House with idle Stories to fill Peoples Heads with Jealousies, and distinguishing himself for a most inveterate opposition to all Rules of Government: All which was evident to myself, as well from what I observed when here formerly, as more especially now since my Arrival: Moreover, he was greatly accountable to the Trust on divers Articles, as well as indebted to many People: And to add to all this, he had never improved one Foot of Land since he came to the Province, or built any Thing more than a very mean Hut. Gough was also a very idle Fellow, pert and impudent in his Behaviour, always (of late) kicking against the Civil Power, and making it his Business to enflame a Sedition: He likewise had little to shew of any improvement, more than setting up the Shell of a House, which he never finished, though (if I am rightly informed) he had received considerable Favours to enable him; and now went off in many Peoples Debt, leaving a Wife and Child behind him, who even in this forlorn State scarcely grieve at his Absence, since he used to beat them more than feed them. Campbell was an insignificant loose Fellow, fit for any Leader who would make a Tool of him; and all the visible Motive at present to be found for his going off, ws in so doing to escape his Creditors. As I was always ready and willing, in Conversation or otherwise, to make Allowance for Mr. Wesley’s Failings in Policy, and (out of Respect to his Function) careful not to run hastily into an entire Belief of all I heard laid to his Charge, I was now asked by divers, in a sneering Way, what my sentiments were of him; which indeed puzzled me: Noscitur ex Sociis was the common By-word; and all I had to say was, that he must stand or fall by himself, when his Cause came before the Trustees.”

Source: Allen D. Candler, ed. The Colonial Records of the State of Georgia, Vol. IV, Stephens’ Journal 1737-1740, Atlanta, GA, 1906, pp. 40-42.