Susanna, Mother of John Wesley

Susanna Annesley was born January 20, 1669 in London. She was the daughter of Samuel Annesley, a prominent dissenting pastor nominated by Oliver Cromwell to serve as lecturer at St. Paul’s. He lost favor after the Restoration and passage of the Act of Uniformity in 1662. She was the 25th of 25 children in her family.

At the age of 13, Susanna left her father’s church for the Anglican Church. It was around this time that she first met Samuel Wesley. Six years later, they married as Samuel completed college and was named rector at Epworth.

They had 19 children, 10 that survived to adulthood. They were poor. Samuel was twice jailed for debts. They did not always agree. He left their home for months in protest of one of their disagreements. They had difficult times with two fires at their home, the second completely destroying everything they owned. The children were farmed out to family and friends for months as a new home was built.

Susannah was known as an educator, teaching her three sons and seven daughters. The Epworth Old Rectory has a booklet Educating the Family extracted from a letter Susannah had written her son John.

In order to form the minds of children, the first thing to be done is to conquer their will, and bring them to an obedient temper. To inform the understanding is a work of time, and must with children proceed by slow degrees, as they are able to bear it; but the subjecting the will is a thing that must be done at once – and the sooner, the better.

The way of teaching was this. The day before a child began to learn, the house was set in order, everyone’s work appointed them and a charge given that none could come into the room from 9 til 12, or from 2 til 5; which you know, were the school hours. One day was allowed the child to learn its letters, and each of them did in that time know all its letters, great and small, except Molly and Nancy, who were a day and a half before they knew them perfectly.

When Samuel died, the family moved from the Epworth Rectory and the building’s contents were sold to cover debts. Susanna left to live with her children, eventually moving to London to live with John at the Foundery and eventually his home at Wesley Chapel. She died July 23, 1742 and was buried at Bunhill Fields across the street from Wesley Chapel.

 His Mother’s Child: On Susanna Wesley’s Great Influence Upon Her Son, John Wesley

Painting from Old Rectory, Epworth

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