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Cambridgeshire - Methodism


Throughout East Anglia Methodism went from strength to strength. Records were kept of christenings and sometimes burials. These are recorded by circuit rather than by an individual church. Personal experience has also shown that these registers do not run chronologically but by church for a given period, as each group of christenings/burials were made available. Each circuit had a register to which each church within that circuit added its entries.


  • Wesleyan Methodist Metropolitan Registry
    Indexed transcript of Cambs and Hunts births and baptisms, 1812-1837, available at both the Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire Record Offices

  • Cambridge Wesleyan Circuit
    Baptisms 1832-37 available (on microfilm) at the Cambridgeshire Record Office (including entries for Cambridge, Chesterton, Cottenham, Fordham, Histon, Impington, Longstanton, Over, Rampton, Shelford, Swaffham Prior, Swavesey and Waterbeach and Exning in Suffolk).

  • Cambridge Primitive Circuit
    Baptisms 1837-79 at Cambridgeshire Record Office (including entries for Babraham, Bluntisham, Bottisham, Cambridge, Chesterton, Dry Drayton, Duxford, Godmanchester, Harlton, Haslingfield, Hemingford, Landbeach, Lode, Over, Saint Ives, Sawston, Swaffham Bulbeck, Swaffham Prior and Toft)

  • Cambridge Primitive Second Circuit
    Baptisms 1882-1926 at Cambridgeshire Record Office (including entries for Cambridge, Chesterton, Fen Ditton, Dry Drayton, Haslingfield, Kingston, Landbeach, Longstanton, Over, Sawston, Toft and Waterbeach).

  • Chatteris Wesleyan Circuit
    Baptisms 1830-37 (on microfilm) at Cambridgeshire Record Office (including entries for Benwick, Chatteris, Doddington, Manea, March, Mepal, Upwell, Welches Dam and Wimblington).

  • Cottenham Wesleyan Circuit
    Baptisms 1876-1916 at Cambridgeshire Record Office (including entries for Cottenham, Histon, lmpington, Longstanton, Stow-cum-Quy, Swaffham Prior, Waterbeach and Willingham). Baptisms 1876-l901 (on microfilm) at Huntingdonshire Record Office.

  • Ely Wesleyan Circuit
    Baptisms 1809-37(on microfilm), Baptisms 1838-1948 at Cambridgeshire Record Office (including entries for Coveney, Downham, Haddenham, Littleport, Soham, Stretham, Sutton, Welney. Wentwortth, Witcham and other places in circuit).

  • Ely Primitive Circuit
    Baptisms 1826-1933 at Cambridgeshire Record Office (including entries for Benwick, Burwell, Chatteris (from 1826), Coveney, Doddington, Downham, Isleham, Littleport, March, Welney, Wicken, Witcham and other places in circuit).

  • Manea Primitive Circuit
    Baptisms 1882-1938 at Cambridgeshire Record Office (including entries for Chatteris, Manea, Upwell, Welney and Wimblington and for Hilgay, Norfolk).

  • Mildenhall Wesleyan Circuit (originally Mildenhall Division of Thetford Circuit)
    Baptisms 1831-37(on microfilm) at Cambridgeshire Record Office; Baptisms 1840-1975 at Cambridgeshire Record Office (including entries for Ashley, Brinkley, Burrough Green, Burwell, Dullingham, Fordham, Soham, Stetchworth and Wicken, and for Eriswell, Exning, Herringswell, Icklingham, Lakenheath, Mildenhall and Moulton in Suffolk); Baptisms 1866-1901(on microfilm) at Huntingdonshire Record Office.

  • Peterborough Wesleyan Circuit
    Baptisms 1822-37(on microfilm) at Huntingdonshire Record Office (including entries for Alwalton, Castor, Elton, Eye, Farcet, Helpston, Marholm, Orton Waterville, Peterborough, Stilton, Thorney, Werrington, Whittlesey and Yaxley and the Crowland and Deeping area in Lincolnshire); Baptisms 1841-1922 at Northamptonshire Record Office.

  • Peterborough Primitive Circuit
    Baptisms 1844-1926 at Northamptonshire Record Office (including entries for Eye, Farcet, Fletton, Glinton, Helpston, Newark, Newborough, Northborough, Peterborough, Ramsey, Stanground, Thorney, Upwood, Walton, Warboys, Whittlesey, Woodston and Yaxley and the Crowland and Deeping area of Lincolnshire).

  • Saint Ives Primitive Methodist Circuit
    Baptisms 1860-1933 at Huntingdonshire Record Office (including entries for Bluntisham, Godmanchester. Hemingford, Over, Saint Ives, Swavesey, Willingham and adjacent places); photocopy at Cambridgeshire Record Office.

  • St. Neots Wesleyan Circuit
    Baptisms 1813-37(on microfilm) at Huntingdonshire Record Office (including entries for Abbotsley. Bourn. Buckden, Caxton, Croxton, Eaton Socon, Ellington, Elsworth, Eltisley, Eynesbury, Gamlingay, Godmanchester, Offord, Great & Little Paxton, Raveley, Saint Neots, Great Staughton, Tetworth, Hail Weston, and Old Weston, and Great Barford, Colmworth, Everton, Potton, Roxton, Sandy and Tempsford in Bedfordshire) microfilm or photocopies at Bedfordshire Record Office. Baptisms 1841-63 (on microfilm) or photocopies at Bedfordshire Record Office. Baptisms 1841-1961 (microfilm and index at Cambridgeshire Record Office & Huntingdonshire Record Office). Earlier entries in Saint Ives Wesleyan Circuit.

  • St. Neots Primitive Circuit
    Baptisms 1845-86 (on microfilm) at Bedfordshire Record Office (including entries for Brampton, Buckden, Caxton, Croxton, Eaton Socon, Eltisley, Eynesbury, Gamlingay, Gransden, Graveley, East Hatley, Huntingdon, Kimbolton, Longstowe, Offord Cluny and Darcy, Papworth, St. Neots, Great Staughton, Tetworth, Waresley, Hail Weston, and Yelling and for Little Barford, Everton and Roxton in Bedfordshire). Baptisms 1845-1984(on microfilm) and index at Cambridgeshire Record Office & Huntingdonshire Record Office.

  • Wickhambrook Primitive Circuit
    Baptisms 1856-86 at Cambridgeshire Record Office (including entries for Ashley, Cheveley, Wood Ditton, Kirtling, and Newmarket, and Barnardiston, Barrow, Great Bradley, Cavendish, Chevington, Clare, Cowlinge, Dalham, Denston, Exning, Haverhill, Poslingford, Little Sandford, Stradishall, Thurlow, Wickhambrook and Great Wratting in Suffolk); Baptisms 1856-86 (on microfilm) at Huntingdonshire Record Office.

  • Wisbech Primitive Circuit
    Baptisms 1833-49 at Cambridgeshire Record Office (including entries for Elm, Leverington, March and Wisbech, and Long Sutton and Tydd St Mary in Lincolnshire, and Emneth, Tilney St Lawrence, Walpole St Peter, West Walton and Walsoken in Norfolk).

  • Wisbech Wesleyan Circuit
    Baptisms 1810-37 (on microfilm), 1839-20 at Cambridgeshire Record Office (including entries for Elm, Newton, Tydd St. Giles, Upwell, Wisbech St. Peter, and Fleet, Gedney, Long Sutton, Sutton St. Mary, and Tydd St. Mary in Lincolnshire, and for Emneth, Terrington St. John, Tilney St. Lawrence, Walpole St. Andrew, Walpole St. Peter, Walsoken in Norfolk).

    Other Methodist registers are listed under the chapel concerned.

Registers at the Public Record Office & The Society of Genealogists

Ref. Years Location Content
    Public RecordOffice  
RG4/193 1816-1837 Barnwell (Wesleyan) Births & Baptisms
RG4/322 1816-1837 Cambridge, Magdalen Street (Primitive Methodist) Births & Baptisms
RG4/323 1834-1840 Cambridge (Irvingite) Births & Baptisms
RG4/328 1824-1837 Chatteris Circuit (Wesleyan) Births & Baptisms
RG4/149 1789-1837 Ely St Mary (Wesleyan) Births & Baptisms
RG4/324 1770-1837
Ely St Mary (Countess of Huntingdon)
Ely St Mary (Countess of Huntingdon)
Births & Baptisms
RG4/264 1804-1837 Wisbeach Circuit (Wesleyan) Births & Baptisms
    Society of Genealogists  
  1773-1838 Cambridgeshire entries in Metropolitan Registry Births & Baptisms

Methodism in Cambridge


Meetings were held by the Wesleyan Methodists in Cambridge in 1800, but the first permanent congregation was founded in the yard of the Brazen George Inn in St. Andrew's Street in 1810. In 1815 William Beacock, a Yorkshire plasterer, built a chapel in Blucher Row, Barnwell, with his own hands, assisted by the unskilled labour of other members of the society, which then numbered about 80. In 1830 the Methodists took over the chapel on the south side of Green Street which had earlier housed an independent meeting. When the numbers had increased to 300, the chapel in Hobson Street was opened in 1849. This was rebuilt in 1894 but was sold to the County Council in 1912. It was replaced by the new Wesley Church near Christ's Pieces in 1913. There are other chapels at the corner of Norwich Street and Hills Road (1871), in Romsey Town (1906), in Meadowlands (1952) and in Chesterton. The last was founded in 1858 and a new building on a new site in Chesterton High Street opened in 1904. This was sold in 1952 and a new chapel opened in Scotland Road. The Hills Road and Romsey Town chapels benefited from legacies left by Robert Sharman (will proved 1943).


The Primitive Methodists held their first meetings in Castle End in 1820, and their first chapel was built in St. Peter's Street in 1822, and rebuilt on the same site in 1863. A new chapel was built in 1914 on an extension of the original site facing Castle Street. They also had a chapel in Newmarket Road (1875). A chapel in Panton Street, held under a trust deed of 1845, was sold in 1911 to the Christian Scientists.

Countess of Huntingdon, Selina Hastings (1707-91)

The Countess of Huntingdon was the founder of the Calvinistic Methodist sect, the Countess of Huntingdon Connexion. She sought originally to evangelise fellow aristocrats within the Church of England but, facing the Church's hositility to Methodists, utimately established, with Whitefield, her own "Connexion", now part of the United Reformed Church except for the 23 remaining.

About Selina Hastings

SELINA, Countess of Huntingdon, was born in 1707, married in 1728 and became a Christian at around the age of 32. She became a widow seven years later and began to devote her energies wholeheartedly to the Lord's work. Like the Wesleys and George Whitefield, she was a member of the Church of England. She used her influence to arrange the appointment of evangelical clergymen in numerous parishes and appointed George Whitefield and other clergy as her chaplains, which was a way of supporting them in their ministry.

The Countess opened private chapels attached to her residences, which she was allowed to do as a peeress of the realm. These were used for the public preaching of the gospel, but they became a source of contention from the local Anglican clergy, with the result that she reluctantly seceded from the Church of England in 1781

In 1768 she opened a College at Trevecca for young men to train for the ministry, near to the community established by Howell Harris. The students from Trevecca did much evangelising and church planting, mostly in England. However, it became increasingly difficult for them to obtain ordination in the Church of England, so the first Ordination service in the Countess' Connexion was held on 9th March 1783, during which the Connexion's Articles of Faith were first read.

The college moved to Cheshunt in 1792. From 1840 it became increasingly more involved with the Congregational Union and moved to Cambridge in 1906. Cheshunt College Foundation still gives financial support for the training of ministers in England and Sierra Leone today.

The Connexion's Articles of Faith are drawn partly from those of the Church of England, partly from the Westminster Confession and some are particular to the Connexion. They are of the Calvinistic persuasion and allow for infant baptism.

When the Countess died in 1791 there were over 60 causes associating themselves with the Countess of Huntingdon, but most of these were in local trusts. Only a few actually belonged to the Countess and were bequeathed in her will to her devisees. The first Connexional Trust Deed was made in 1807. Since that date, some chapels originally describing themselves as 'Countess of Huntingdon' have come to the Main Trust and some have joined other denominations. Numbers of Mission Stations were established by the larger chapels, which have outlived them. The present scheme was executed in 1899 and revised a few years ago.


The Countess of Huntingdon - Ely -

Connexional youth work -

The Main Countess of Huntingdon's Connexion site -

Reference Books

  • "My Ancestors Were Methodists" by William Leary
    - Published by Society of Genealogists- 1982 ISBN 0 946789 30 4

  • "How to write a Local History of Methodism" by Wesley F. Swift - 4th Edition
    - Published by Alfred A. Tabener Ltd - 1986

  • "John Wesley and Methodism; a Guide for Schools" by Thomas Shaw - 6th Edition
    - Published by Alfred A. Tabener Ltd - 1986

  • "Local Methodist Records: a brief explanation of local Methodist archival material deposited in County Record Ofices" by William Leary
    (Methodist Study Guide, no. 2; WMHS Publications 1981).

  • "A Methodist Guide to Lincolnshire and East Anglia" by William Leary and John vickers
    - Published by WMHS Publications - 1984

  • "The Ely Methodists 1774-1932" by Eileen Jakes
    Published by S-Print ISBN 0 9513457 0 2. An index of references within this book is available on-line at GENUKI.

  • "A History of the County of Cambridge and Isle of Ely"
    Published in the series Victoria History of the Counties of England p. 137

  • "The Wordsworth Dictionary of British History" by J.P. Kenyon
    published by Wordsworth Editions Ltd. ISBN 1-85326-322-2.

Useful Addresses

The Society of Cirplanologists
(Secretary, Mr. E.A. Rose)
26 Roe Cross Green
SK14 6LP
The Wesley Historical Society
(Secretary, Dr. E.D. Graham)
34 Spiceland Road
B31 1MJ.
The Wesleyan Reform Union
123 Queen Street
S1 2DL.
Archives of the Independent Methodist Church
Independent Methodist Resource Centre
Fleet Street
Pemberton       Tel. 01942-223526
Wigan              Fax. 01942-227768
WN5 0DS.      E-mail.
The Countess of Huntingdon Connexion
Huntingdon Hall
65 De Ia Warr Road
East Grinstead
West Sussex
RH19 3BS.
The Dr. Williams Library
14 Gordon Square
The Methodist Archives & Research Centre
John Rylands University Library
M3 3EH.

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Comments and Other Information

Last Updated on: 5 January 2002
For comments about this webpage, please email Martin Edwards.
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