Attached to the above is a typescript letter from Miss Lois Deacon (Lord Mayor's Secretary at Plymouth), at Highfield, Rockingham Road, Seymour Park, Plymouth, to [Lewis] Court. She is writing to Court at the suggestion of Isaac Foot, Lord Mayor of plymouth, concerning a task which she has undertaken.
She is the great-granddaughter of the early Bible Christian minister William Mason. Since childhood, she has been fascinated by stories of Mason and she has now decided to write his life story. Mr Foot thought that Court may be able to put her in touch with people who have journals, letters and other items of relevance. She would also be interested in material concerning Mason's wife Mary, who was born in 1804 as Mary Hewitt and was also a travelling Bible Christian minister.
As far as Mason himself is concerned, she has a good account of his ministry between 1816 and 1826 but not much else. She knows that he was a champion wrestler in his youth and is fairly sure that he was born near Holsworthy in Devon, either in the village of Bradford or near Sutcombe or possibly Bradworthy. She has however been unable to find an entry in a baptism register. She is very anxious to clear up this point as she wishes to visit his birthplace and gain an idea of what his childhood must have been like. Neither has been able to trace any wrestling records or books which describe the sport, although she is aware that it was the main village recreation at the time.
Unfortunately the Plymouth Reference Library was badly bombed during the war and many books were destroyed.
She has consulted copies of the Arminian Magazine for 1823 to 1827 and the Bible Christian Magazine for 1853 and 1854. She has also seen Frederick William Bourne's The Bible Christians - Their Origin and History and Thorne's biography of William O'Bryan. [Richard] Pyke at Edgehill College [in Bideford] has also kindly sent her a copy his own book on the Bible Christians and last week placed the accompanying item in the Morning News.
The great gaps in William Mason's story are as follows:
- His birthplace and early life before his conversion
- Any account of him at the time he succeeded William O'Bryan as President of the Conference in 1828
- The raising of his and Mary's twelve children. She has no idea of where the family lived or their circuits except that they were in the Launceston Circuit when Mary died in 1853, and that Mason was superannuated at Northlew
She has been told that many of Mason's papers were destroyed by a fire at the Bible Christian book room.
Deacon has been in touch with Mrs Jewell, a Bible Christian historical enthusiast at Holsworthy and spent three days in the village.
If Court can suggest further lines of enquiry, she would be most grateful.