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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