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Copy of a letter of Joseph Hawley a potter of Burslem
Dated: 20th November 1827
Kindly transcribed by Julian Hawley
Of note are ... the mention of the dissolution of partnership with J. Read, the collapse of the glost oven, problems with creditors, the activities with the local Methodist church.
also see an entry on the business of E. Hawley & Son
also see biography of Elias Hawley
Joseph Hawley 1794-1863
Burslem Nov 20th 1827
The perusal of your favour of the 1st instant afforded me considerable pleasure especially to learn that God was smiling upon your labours in the ministry and blessing your family with such special tokens of his loving kindness, which I pray God may be your continued position and that your usefulness may be increased yet tenfold.
My father received with pleasure the kind expression of your best wishes towards him and expresses his thankfulness that you so far notice him and hopes that your wishes will be realised in meeting him in heaven if not permitted on earth and he most cordially joins me in reiterating the sentiments before expressed. With regard to his health it is extremely uncertain, changing frequently and suddenly so that no dependence can be placed on his stay – otherwise I should judge from recent appearances in him (he being far better than I have seen him for many months) that you will be likely to find hem with us at the conference but God only knows perhaps I, perhaps you who are calculating with a sort of certainty as respect ourselves in this matter may yet be the first to meet our final hours.
Oh that whenever that awful hour shall arrive may we all be ready to enter in to the marriage supper of the lamb. Concerning myself in these matters I find the Lord is with me and he very frequently blesses my soul and, I think, more frequently that when engaged in devotional exercises with my little family than at other times – still I feel great delight in communion with my brethren, I am daily striving to make myself useful in the church of Christ that so I may at length appear before the God of God in Zion with exceeding great joy. With regard to my family as I said nothing upon the subject before I may tell you that I have six children living, 1 dead and before I have the pleasure of seeing you I expect another.
We have to be thankful considering our number as a family we enjoy very good health generally but you may be sure me and my partner have quite enough to exercise our minds and occupy our attention. With regard to our temporal circumstances I may tell you that during the last 12 months my feelings respecting our condition have been of the most poignant nature, not so much on the prospect of impending distress, because as you know I have another means of getting a livelihood besides the one I am now following, but for fear of a reproach being brought on the cause of Christ through any embarrassment of ours. I am disposed to be thus particular from the interest you take in our welfare and from the entire confidence I have in your knowing, that you will be sympathetic with us in our misfortunes. The following will serve as a short sketch.
At Martinmas 1825 the term expired which J.Read and my father had engaged together as partners – of course a dissolution took place, J.Read engaged with another partner, father and me united together thinking with the capital we had (though small) with prudence, good management and the blessing of God we should have succeeded. But not so for we had no sooner commenced than that dreadful panic took place which so seriously fell in the kingdom at that time shook as it were the whole commercial world and we who were just then relying upon a ready money trade felt its paralysing effects.
There had also just before been some regulations adopted in the trade and agreements made with the men on that footing which were almost instantaneously thrown down and let loose again and subjecting those employers who held good faith with their men to serious disadvantage as to prices of work. This we had to endure with a serious reduction in the price of goods – added to this early in the ensuing spring our glost oven fell while firing doing us considerable damage and rendering it necessary to build a new one. But what was worse than all the new oven never could be got to fire regularly so that we were exposed to incalculable loss. We had the best advice we could obtain on the subject and it was at length cured but not before we were almost ruined – we found we were got sadly wrong and found ourselves in a manner fast – we therefore by and with the advice of Mr Ridgeway whose counsel we took agreed to stop the works and prepare a full statement of our affairs and lay the same before our creditors which we did on the fifteenth day of last March – when agreeable to our utmost wishes they agreed to take off 1/3 of their respective debts and allow us 18 months to pay it in. Under these circumstances we are now found and although we are thankful that we met with such kind treatment from our creditors yet you cannot imagine the feelings of my mind while passing through these various trials and what rendered it still more distressing was that during that part of the time when our affairs were about to be brought to a crisis, my father was very ill and not able to take any part whatever in the business - though the Lord has thus been chastening us yet it has been in mercy for I feel myself so unworthy as not to deserve any favour from his hand.
Our present prospects are brighter than before and we hope through the blessing of God ultimately to be brought through. I desire an special interest in your prayers that my faith fail not in the day of adversity. I have recently made up my mind to accept the charge of a small class rendered vacant by the removal of the leader to Lane End circuit.
Since I wrote to you last we have got our chapel beautifully lighted with gas and have had our anniversary. Mr Newbury and Mr Shuttleworth preached. The question about assistant leaders attending the leaders meeting is not likely to be enforced with the rigour first contemplated there appears a disposition in them to go on as usual till they are attached again and I think the meeting will let us alone though by the by my opinion is with you that a cure might have been effected by that process but at present our leaders meeting is hardly prepared for it without some risk.
Hope you got your parcel from Mr Shuttleworth in time. I read your letter to a few friends at least the major part of it and presented your respects to the many who were glad to hear that you were well and wished to be remembered to you with the sincerest affection and regard.
We are obliged to you for your information respecting Mr Lomax and as we had some business in Manchester we have directed the reason of this Isaac Blaise a leader amongst us and a servant in our employ to do the business for us – Mr Broadbelt. Pamphlets on Sabbath writing are in request here I have been applied to for them by several of the old Methodists knowing that I had them to sell before. Shall feel obliged to you therefore if you will send me six by Isaac, he will pay for them. Brother W Ball wished be to remember him to you and to say that he is now gone to reside in a larger house and he shall feel a pleasure in making you as comfortable as he can so long as you may feel disposed to stay in Burslem at the approaching conference time he wishes you to let him know a few days before hand at what time you think of coming. I wish I had it in my power to furnish you with accommodation I should feel proud to do it, shall be happy to hear from you at anytime when you engagements will allow you an hour and remain with best wishes for yourself, family and circuit.
Yours in Christ
Isaac will gladly tell you anything you may be disposed to enquire about that he knows.