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John Wesley’s sisters: Mehetabel

July 02, 2020
JOHN WESLEY MOMENTS
DAVE HANSON      


John Wesley’s sister Mehetabel was better known as “Hetty.” She was six years older than John and was probably the most beautiful of the Wesley sisters. She was a happy child with a warm personality. The Wesley family played cards and enjoyed dancing. The Wesley family was a happy oasis in the midst of a not-so-happy community.

Following a fire in the rectory in 1709, Hetty was sent to live with her Uncle Matthew in London. There she met students, gentlemen, and ladies more in keeping with her keen mind, physical beauty, and ready wit than any she had meet at Epworth. Her view of life expanded greatly. When she returned home, many young men came to visit the Wesley parsonage. They were all discouraged by her father. She went to Kelstern to become a governess. There she met a dashing young lawyer. She brought him home to meet her family and again Samuel discouraged their relationship. Hetty was bitterly disappointed and eloped with her lover. After spending the night with him she learned that he had no interest in marriage and simply wanted her as his mistress.

Brokenhearted, she returned home to find that she was pregnant and rejected by her own family. Sister Mary offered comfort, but Rev. Samuel was unforgiving. John tried to get his father to forgive her. He even preached a sermon on the need to forgive. Samuel knew the message was aimed at him and went so far as to complain to his Bishop about his son’s sermon! Hettie agreed to marry anybody who would have her. Samuel married her to a crude, uncouth plumber, William Wright.

Her life with William was miserable. Then they moved to London and Uncle Matthew took an interest in her and introduced her to his literary friends and others in society. She began to write poetry. Her Uncle Matthew died in her arms and left her funds.

Her father never forgave her. But after his death, life became easier for her and she was restored to her happy family. After her mother’s death, she wrote to John, “I have long desired to know one thing, Jesus Christ and Him crucified….”

Hettie had become a Methodist and her Methodist friends were a comfort to her.

The Rev. Dave Hanson is a retired pastor and John Wesley scholar.

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