Magic Methodists

Interesting to read about the curious entanglement of folk beliefs with early Methodism in North Staffordshire…

“One of the most graphic instances of Methodist involvement in the world of popular witchcraft […] occurred during the camp meetings of the Forest Methodists earned them a supernatural reputation, and the popular name of ‘Magic Methodists’. Writing in the latter half of the century, the local [North] Staffordshire historian Henry Wedgwood recalled that many of the local inhabitants at the time were terrified of the magical activities of an innkeeper named Zacchariah Baddeley [see: Henry Wedgwood, Up and Down the County, Hanley, 1880] […] The Methodist authorities were obviously well aware of the supernatural beliefs held by many of their members.” — from “Methodism, the Clergy, and the Popular Belief in Witchcraft and Magic”, 1997.

Folk-lore journal 1968 adds… “It is a pity that Wedgwood is not more explicit about the sort of magic that Baddeley professed to work”.


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