JOHN STRETTON: CORRESPONDENCE WITH ELIZA BENNIS
Eliza Bennis was one of those remarkable women who
influenced the course of Methodist history. She was actively
involved in the growth and maintenance of Methodism in Ireland and
served as a spiritual adviser to many. She kept Wesley informed of
Irish developments and maintained many dispirited missionaries by
her sound and independent advice. This was especially the case
with John Stretton, whom --according to Crookshank-- she had
converted in Waterford to the Methodist cause and whom she
subsequently nurtured through a spiritual and intellectual
lifeline. Both Eliza Bennis and John Stretton seem to have been
natives of Limerick. Only very late in life did Eliza Bennis move
to her son Thomas to Philadelphia, where she died in June of 1802.
Her correspondence, including the one with Stretton from Harbour
Grace, were published by Thomas Bennis in Philadelphia in 1809.
While these letters represent the single most important source of
Methodism in Newfoundland from 1775 to 1791, some of the local
detail is omitted from the letters, to the chagrin of the
historian. A search for the originals and for Eliza Bennis' diary
has so far been without success.
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