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Methodists John & Charles Wesley’s Shipwreck Adventure

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Note: Shipwrecks have cost families their loved ones, they have disrupted commerce, affected the course of war, bankrupted companies, enriched salvors, changed the course of settlement of countries, and even had their effects on church and religion. The following entry relates to the latter.

On July 26, 1739, Reverend John Wesley recorded the following in his journal: “My brother (Reverend Charles Wesley) and I set out for Charlestown, in order to his embarking for England; but the wind being contrary, we did not reach Port-Royal, forty miles from Savannah, till Wednesday evening. The next morning we left it. But the wind was so high in the afternoon, as we were crossing the neck of St. Helena’s Sound, that our oldest sailor cried out, Now every one must take for himself. I told him, God would take care for us all. Almost as soon as the words were spoken the mast fell. I kept on the edge of the boat to be clear of her when she sunk, which we expected every moment, though with little prospect of swimming ashore, against such a wind and sea. But how is it that thou hadst no faith? The moment the mast fell, two men caught it, and pulled it into the boat; the other three rowed with all their might, and God gave command to the wind and seas; so that in an hour we were safe on land.”

Note: John Wesley was the principal founder of the Methodist movement. Charles Wesley also participated in the Methodist movement, but is probably best known for the over 5,000 hymns he wrote. Charles’ most famous hymn was “Hark, the Herald Angles Sing.” The two brothers accompanied James Oglethorpe to Georgia in 1735 and, among other duties, served as rectors of Christ Church on St. Simon’s Island.

This entry was adapted from:
Shipwreck Encyclopedia of the Era of Colonization: South Carolina & Georgia, 1521-1762 by Dr. E. Lee Spence, © 1991, entry 1736-7-US-SC/GA-1

Spence’s sources were:
Port Royal Under Six Flags, by Katherine M. Jones, (New York, 1960), pp. 106, 107

Academic American Encyclopedia, by Arete Publishing Company, (Princeton, N.J., 1981), p. 105

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