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Gilbert, Ann
c.1735-1790

Ann Gilbert was born around 1735 at Gwinear, Cornwall. Although she was initially influenced by hearing the preaching of 'Captain Dick' Williams, a local preacher, in 1743, she was not ‘fully awakened’ until 1760 when other Methodist preachers visited the Truro area. She found great blessing in her class meeting and became a class leader at Gwinear. In 1771 she went to a service in a neighbouring village, but when the preacher did not arrive she gave out a hymn and prayed, having told the congregation that ‘they need not be disappointed, for the Lord was present to bless them.’ Then she felt ‘such a manifestation of the love and power of God, that I was constrained to entreat and beseech them to repent and turn to the Lord.’ She renewed her efforts as class leader and sick visitor, then one Sunday at a class in a nearby village was urged to speak to the young people present.

Convinced that she ought to continue, she ‘promised the Lord, if he would give me strength, to use it [her strength] to his glory’ which he did, giving her ‘an abundance of satisfaction’, by restoring her health, deepening her faith and owning her labours with conversions. Ann felt that, although her life had had its difficulties - the loss of children and other ‘worldly trials and losses’ - God had sustained her. At one time she consulted John Wesley about her public preaching and gained his support: ‘Sister, do all the good you can’. An itinerant hear her preach in the chapel at Redruth to about 1400 people and that ‘she had a torrent of softening eloquence, which occasioned a general weeping through the whole congregation. And what was more astonishing she was almost blind, and had been for many years.’ On account of her blindness she had to dictate her experience for the Arminian Magazine. She in turn encouraged another early preacher from her native parish of Gwinear, Elizabeth Tonkin (Mrs. Collett, 1762-1825). Ann died on 18th July 1790.

Sources

  • Arminian Magazine, 1795, pp.42-5
  • Zechariah Taft, Biographical Sketches of…Holy Women, Vol. 1 (London, 1825), pp.49-51
  • Paul Wesley Chilcote, John Wesley and the Women Preachers of Early Methodism (Metuchen, 1991) pp.145-6

Entry written by: EDG
Category: Person

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