John and Charles Wesley's Sister Married a Polygamist
For those of you who will criticize me because I am
condemning Luke Tyerman because he slandered the Reverend Westley Hall, read the
If a false witness rise up against any man to testify against him [that which
is] wrong; Then both the men, between whom the controversy [is], shall stand
before the LORD, before the priests and the judges, which shall be in those
days; And the judges shall make diligent inquisition: and, behold, [if] the
witness [be] a false witness, [and] hath testified falsely against his brother;
Then shall ye do unto him, as he had thought to have done unto his brother: so
shalt thou put the evil away from among you.
Luke Tyerman is a false witness as you will read in this article. His slander
against the Reverend Westley Hall took place around one hundred years after the
death of the Reverend Hall when, in 1873, he published The Oxford
Methodists. It is now around one hundred years after the death of Luke Tyerman.
I will now show that Luke Tyerman is the very "monster and brute" that he
falsely accused the Reverend Westley Hall of being. You be the judge.
The Reverend Westley Hall was a dedicated evangelist of the
18th Century who was also a polygamist. Many churches and Christian evangelicals
supported him throughout his ministry knowing full well that he was a polygamist
both in theory and in practice. Here is a summary of the Reverend
Westley Hall's family. It will soon be added to with additional footnotes.
First wife: Martha Wesley (The sister of John Wesley, founder of the
Methodists and Charles Wesley, the greatest Christian Hymn writer.)
Second wife: Mrs. Betty Rogers Hall, was for a time, the Halls' seamstress.1
Third and subsequent wives: Mrs. A. Hall, Mrs. E.R. Hall and others. I don't
know yet what order. (It was the custom of the time to
give initials only for the names of anyone involved in a relationship that
"polite society" didn't consider proper.)2
Children by Martha: ten, all died before reaching adulthood.
Children by his other wives: many, from Ireland to America. I am still
researching the descendents of Westley Hall.
The Reverend Westley Hall was the brother-in-law
of John and Charles Wesley through his marriage to their sister, Martha Wesley.
What made the Reverend Hall unique for his time, was that he openly taught that
the Bible allows polygamy, and his wife Martha knew this. In our discussion of
the Reverend Hall's life, therefore, we must put aside bigotry and understand
that the Reverend Hall took the women with whom he had relations as wives. [Let
marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for
God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. Hebrews 13:4]
who she had married and trusted that his beliefs about marriage were based on
the Bible, and they were. Now, in order to avoid such bigotry as has attended
discussions of polygamy in the past, we must first expose the bigotry. We'll
begin by exposing the slander that has been fomented against the Reverend
Westley Hall by Luke Tyerman in the last chapter of his book, The Oxford
Methodists. He begins his attack with the first sentence of that chapter as
"It is far from pleasant to conclude a book, in
darkness and in pollution; but, in the present case, it cannot be avoided."3
This attack against the Reverend Hall is
unjustified. He was open about his polygamy so it can't be said that he did
anything in darkness. As for pollution? "Let marriage be held in honor among
all." Hebrews 13:4a. Reverend Hall only had relations with his wives, so to
accuse him of pollution is to dishonor marriage itself.
Mr. Tyerman, astoundingly, is unmoved by the very facts of the
Reverend Hall's godly life, which, in page after page of Mr. Tyerman's own
book, Mr. Tyerman himself reveals! The facts of the Reverend Hall's godly
life are apparent to the reader but Mr. Tyerman, the expositor of those facts,
is unable to take them to heart. His bigotry against polygamy colors nearly
every judgment he makes about the Reverend Hall.4
In one paragraph he attacks the Reverend Hall for disciplining his
son by putting him into a "dark closet." Is Mr. Tyerman claiming that no
monogamist mother or father has ever disciplined their child this way? No,
what disturbs Mr. Tyerman is that Martha is nursing one of the Reverend Hall's
children by another wife when this disciplinary action takes place. Would Mr.
Tyerman prefer that whenever Martha is nursing one of her husband's children by
another of his wives that their own children be allowed to misbehave? Is leaving
children without discipline, loving? It's clear that what really disturbs Mr.
Tyerman is that Martha is not only willing to share her husband with other wives
but she is willing to love the children of those other wives as if they are her
own. Even going so far as to nurse them. It upsets Tyerman and others who hate
polygamists when they see a polygamist family without strife since they boldly
claim that this is always the case in polygamist marriages. Maybe they boldly
lie that strife between wives is the rule in polygamist marriages because
the fact is there are only three such cases of strife recorded between wives in
the Bible who shared their husband; Sarah & Hagar, Leah & Rachel, and Peninnah &
Hannah. That's it! The fact is that there are more verses concerning strife
between a husband and his wife in a monogamous marriage than there are verses concerning strife between
wives in a polygamous marriage but we don't use that discord in monogamous marriages as grounds
for condemning them. It's bigotry, impure and simple, that leads men to condemn
polygamy for the scriptures certainly don't do it.
It's clear that the lack of discord in the Reverend Hall's family
so upset Mr. Tyerman's stereotyped view of polygamous families that he felt
compelled to condemn even the slightest infraction on the part of the husband.
It is of note that in the twenty five pages written by Mr. Tyerman about the
life of the Reverend Westley Hall that he was unable to document even one word
of discord between the Reverend Hall and his wives or even between the wives!
Furthermore, Mr. Tyerman continued the sin of his dark generation of
religionists by leaving the names of the other wives and their children out of
his account. Are we to believe that the Reverend Hall, who
blessed Martha with ten, yes, ten conceptions, had no children to survive him
through any of his other wives?
Finding himself without any first hand evidence with which to
attack the Reverend Westley Hall, Luke Tyerman selects a jury of sorts by which
he slanderously prosecutes his case, and who makes up that jury? The in-laws! Yes,
that's exactly whose word he takes. I wonder how many of you would like the
history of your actions here on earth to be judged by your in-laws, and then,
only those in-laws who have uttered words against you. I can hear you protesting
now, "Please, choose from any of my enemies, but don't let my in-laws judge me!"
However, Mr. Tyerman's efforts to tarnish the Reverend Westley
Hall's godly life fail again as he tries to paint a picture of the evil
polygamist through the eyes of his in-laws. He quotes Samuel Wesley, Martha's
brother as follows:
"It is certainly true of that marriage; it will not, and it
cannot come to good."5
Martha's brother, Samuel, penned these lines,
upset that his other sister Kezziah had gone to live with Martha and her
husband, the Reverend Westley Hall. Tyerman writes that Samuel "was also wishful
to have Kezziah beneath his roof, if his brother John would continue to allow
her fifty pounds a year."3 Fifty pounds a year! That's a sum equal to well over
$500 a month in today's dollars.
Instead of succeeding in painting a portrait of an evil polygamist,
Tyerman leads us to believe that the Wesleys are stingy in caring for the needs
of their spinster sister. Samuel, who will not support his sister, begrudges
Kezziah the support of her sister Martha and brother-in-law, the Reverend Westley Hall.
The reason for the family's initial hostility toward the Reverend
Hall can be traced back to his proposal to Martha, followed by his proposal to
her sister Kezziah, and then finally in his marriage to Martha. Before
explaining the details of this confusing courtship I must first make clear to
you that the Reverend Westley Hall did not marry both of the sisters.
The following is Mr.
Tyerman's outline of Dr. Adam Clarke's account:
"About the year 1734, Westley Hall met Martha at
her uncle's house in London, proposed to marry her, and, without the knowledge
of her parents, or her brothers, was accepted. He then accompanied John and
Charles to Epworth, and there saw Kezziah, grew enamoured of her, courted, and
obtained her consent, and that of the family in general, to marry him; all of
them being ignorant of his pre-engagement with Martha. Returning to London, Hall
renewed his addresses to "poor Patty," [Martha] who was completely unconscious
of what had transpired at Epworth. She wrote to her mother, stating that for
some time past, she had been betrothed to Hall. Kezziah, on learning this,
renounced all claim to him. The mother wrote to Martha, assuring her, "that, if
she obtained the consent of her uncle, there was no obstacle" to the marriage.
The uncle raised no objection; gave Martha a dowry of 500 pounds; and the
wedding was completed."
Tyerman admits that if there were some horrible misstep on the part
of the Reverend Hall, as opposed to any misstep on the part of Martha or
Kezziah, that it is "unaccountable" that Susanna Wesley, Martha's mother, would
have then and for her whole life, held such a "high opinion" of the Reverend
Hall. I can't help but wonder if there was something that only their mother
knew, but for the sake of honor did not disclose. No, I'm not saying that either
Martha or Kezziah committed some fornication. What I'm saying is that there
certainly could have been a break in the engagement between Martha and the
Reverend Hall that permitted him to court her sister. This break could have been
repaired once Martha realized she was going to lose Westley to her own sister,
Kezziah. Likewise, Kezziah, upon finding out that her sister, Martha, had
overplayed her hand but still loved Westley, Kezziah, now having second thoughts
concerning marriage on any account, could simply have decided to give him up.
Reverend Hall's own beliefs concerning marriage and polygamy could have been
enough for Kezziah to resign herself to his love but not to his affections.
Living under his roof so soon after her sister's marriage to him is evidence, if
not proof, of this supposition.
It's baffling how Tyerman ignores the character references for the
Reverend Hall that are given by Susanna
Wesley, the oft lauded matriarch of the Wesley evangelical legacy. Susanna's
actions speak loudly as well for she moves
in with her daughter Martha and the Reverend Hall within one year of her son
Samuel's complaint that his sister
Kezziah had done so. Any partial observer would have to agree that the Reverend
Hall and his wife Martha kept a wonderful household. In fact, in addition to
gracing the likes of Susanna Wesley, the Reverend and Mrs. Westley Hall were
hosts to George Whitefield [the leading figure in the eighteenth century American revival known as the Great Awakening] while he was on his way to Wales.6
Another occasion that showed Westley Hall's gracious manner was "when Whitefield
and [John] Wesley quarreled respecting the doctrine of 'Free Grace,' and
Whitefield declared his intention to attack Wesley and his brother [Charles]
wherever he went, Westley Hall assumed the office of peacemaker, waited upon
Whitefield, and reminded him of a promise, he had made, 'that whatever his
private opinion was, he would never publicly preach against' them."7 Here is what Susanna Wesley
wrote concerning the Reverend Westley Hall and his wife Martha Wesley Hall in a letter dated August 5, 1737:
"Mr. Hall and his wife are very good to me. He
behaves like a gentleman and a Christian; and my daughter with as much duty and
tenderness as can be expressed."8
A little over two years later, on September 3, 1739, John Wesley wrote in his
"I talked largely with my mother, who told me,
that, till a short time since, she had scarce heard such a thing mentioned as
the having God's spirit bearing witness with our spirit: much less did she
imagine that this was the common privilege of all true believers. 'Therefore,'
said she, 'I never durst ask for it myself. But two or three weeks ago, while my
son Hall was pronouncing those words, in delivering the cup to me, -The blood of
our Lord Jesus Christ, which was given for thee,-the words struck my heart, and
I knew, God, for Christ's sake, had forgiven me all my sins.'"
Three years later, Charles Wesley confirmed in a poem at his
mother's funeral that it was at the moment that his mother received the
communion cup from Westley Hall that she first felt her sins forgiven:
In sure and steadfast hope to rise
And claim her mansion in the skies
A Christian here her flesh laid down
The cross exchanging for a crown
True daughter of affliction, she
Inured to pain and misery
Mourn'd a long night of griefs and fears
A legal night of seventy years
The Father then revealed his Son
Him in the broken bread made known
She knew and felt her sins forgiven
And found the earnest of her heaven
Meet for the fellowship above
She heard the call, "Arise, my love!"
"I come!" her dying looks replied
And, lamb-like as her Lord, she died.
It's clear from Charles Wesley's
poem that despite his disagreements with the Reverend Westley Hall that Charles
Wesley indeed credited Hall with being the instrument of God in uttering those precious
words of assurance to his mother. He said no less than that in the words of his
poem. "The Father then revealed his Son, Him in the
broken bread made known, She knew and felt her sins forgiven."
At the very least, the Reverend Hall's "pronouncing those words"
opened Susanna Wesley's heart to the assurance of salvation. Some could
argue that Susanna Wesley was not even saved before the moment about which she
says, "the words struck my heart, and I knew, God, for Christ's sake, had
forgiven me all my sins."
In light of this, we must use caution in judging the Reverend Hall.
There is no reason to believe that he was anything other than a man of honor,
and one who preached the gospel. There are details as to his doctrinal positions
that I won't address, simply because they are of a denominational nature. It is
sufficient to say that most of today's Christians would be closer to the
Reverend Westley Hall in their
understanding of salvation and the role of any church hierarchy in their lives
than they would be to his brothers-in-law, the Wesleys, who
pledged their allegiance to the Church of England insofar as she was considered an
extension of Rome.
Regardless of anyone's views on the Reverend Westley Hall it is of
note that "The unrest of Mr. Wesley's (John) mind was deepened by correspondence
with the Rev. Westley Hall, who had urged him to renounce the Church of England.
At that time, Mr. Wesley believed in apostolical succession and the offering of
an outward sacrifice by the priest. These dogmas were soon afterwards given up
So we see that the Reverend Westley Hall has had an influence on
our very institutions for he was the man who convinced John Wesley, the founder
of Methodism, that our churches are not to be branches of Rome but indeed we are
to stand with Jesus only as our mediator between each one of us and God the
Father. These ideas were not unique to the Reverend Westley Hall but he was the
one that introduced them with effect to John Wesley. [1 Timothy 2:5 For [there
is] one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;]
Despite these facts, Tyerman continues through his chapter about
the Reverend Westley Hall to spout one hateful sentence
after another with not so much as one piece of evidence that the Reverend Hall
ever wronged his first wife, Martha, or anyone of his other wives, friends, or
associates. Tyerman slanders the Reverend Hall with one comparison after another to sinners of
the past. He begins by comparing Reverend Hall to Reuben, the son of Jacob, who
took his own father's wife! Did the Reverend Westley Hall ever do such a thing?
Never, not even in the wildest slanders against him, was it ever alleged that he
did such a thing. So why exactly does Luke Tyerman hate the Reverend Westley
Hall, even going so far as to call him "Reuben redivivus?" [Reuben
revived.] The answer is simple,
like most religionists who disagree with polygamy, it's not enough for them to
simply disagree and state the differences. It's not enough because they have no
facts on their side. It's literally not enough. They have no
scriptures, no precedent, their entire argument is based on feelings and those
feelings, are not from love, but hatred. The twisting of scriptures to paint an
evil picture of polygamists begins with their quoting the Bible concerning
Lamech. Lamech, who they claim is the first polygamist, acts in self defense by
killing his attacker, but we'll overlook this obvious fact for a moment and use
the anti-polygamists illogic to expose their own error. They claim Adam as the
model on which we should base our marriages and say that he was a monogamist.
Ok, let's accept that at face value. Look what horror befalls Adam, the
monogamist. He has but one wife, so not wishing to lose her he commits the
original sin in accepting the forbidden fruit, thereby causing untold suffering
not to mention the sacrificial death of our Lord and Savior Jesus in order to
wipe that original sin away. Then his tiny
monogamist family which is limited to just one birth per year, turns inward upon
itself with the first born of a monogamist murdering the second born of a
monogamist and then going out to be a monogamist himself! Oh what horrors
monogamy causes! Of course I'm jesting. You know and I know that such arguments
are ridiculous but such are the arguments of anti-polygamists against the
Without any valid arguments against polygamy, it's not surprising
that the anti-polygamists stoop to name calling, the last bastion of liberals
which is what all religionists are. The religionists follow the teachings of man
and an imperfect and evolving culture over the perfect teachings of our Lord as
found in the pages of the Bible. Their name calling amounts to bearing false
testimony which Jesus stated leads to murder.
"Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou
shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: 22
But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause
shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother,
Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool,
shall be in danger of hell fire. Matthew 5:21,22
Do you ever get the feeling that those who
oppose polygamy would like to see the polygamists dead? If you have never been
on the receiving end of such hatred, just try an experiment. Tell your friends
in church that polygamy is acceptable to God and that no woman should oppose her
husband in his desires to take another wife. Then duck for cover. They'll spew venom
as never you thought they could. The kind people that you thought you knew will
hate you and will not use the Bible against you except when they take it
entirely out of context. They'll stoop to slandering every polygamist
who ever walked the earth, including King David.
Now, back to Mr. Tyerman who hates the Reverend Hall because, in
his words, "The man became a professed polygamist." Mr. Tyerman sees
no reason to justify his calling the Reverend Westley Hall a "monster and a brute"
because he simply considers any polygamist a monster and a brute. If this is not
his reason for condemning Mr. Hall with these words, then what is? What sin has
the Reverend Hall committed? Has he beat his wife? No. Has he yelled at her and
berated her? No. Has he beaten the children? No. Then what could it be? What could Mr. Tyerman be
referring to when he accuses the Reverend Westley Hall of being a "monster and a
brute?" He's referring to one thing; the fact that the Reverend Hall agreed with
Martin Luther, John Milton, and other eminent theologians and writers of the
reformation and the centuries following it, that a man has a right to have more
than one wife, and moreover, that the Reverend Hall followed in the custom of
certain close relatives of the Wesleys by actually taking more than one wife.
Luke Tyerman, in fact, has absolutely no justification for any of the bigoted
adjectives that he ascribes to the Reverend Westley Hall. Luke Tyerman hates
polygamists so he thinks that he can call them all manner of name without
justification. If you're against polygamy then you've likely participated in the
same slanders even if those slanders have only been within the confines of your
mind because there are no scriptures against polygamy. I am waiting till this
day for anyone who has visited any of my websites to produce once such verse and
I've had well over a million readers since my ministry began. Thousands who hate
my ministry have sent me comments through the comment form on this website but
most have not even had the guts to give their real email address. Not one of
those critics has given any verse banning
polygamy because there are none.
There is a stark contrast between the Reverend Westley Hall's happy
polygamous marriages, including saint like descriptions of his wife, Martha, and
the unhappy monogamous marriage of his brother-in-law, John Wesley. John
Wesley's wife "traveled with him for some time, but soon very naturally grew
dissatisfied with a life so restless and so incompatible with the tastes and
convenience of her sex. Unwilling to travel herself, she became equally
dissatisfied with her husband's habitual absence. Her discontent took at last
the form of a monomaniacal jealousy. During twenty years she persecuted him with
unfounded suspicions and intolerable annoyances. She repeatedly deserted him,
but returned at his own earnest instance. She opened, interpolated, and then
exposed to his enemies his correspondence, and sometimes traveled a hundred
miles to see, from a window, who accompanied him in his carriage. At last,
taking with her portions of his Journals and papers, which she never restored,
she left him with the assurance that she would never return."10
"Mrs. Hall was never heard to speak of her husband but with
kindness. She often expressed wonder that women should profess to love their
husbands, and yet dwell upon their faults, or indeed upon those of their
friends. She was never known to speak evil of any person."11
It can only be guessed as to where the Reverend Westley Hall first
got it in his mind to become a polygamist but it would have been impossible for
the Reverend Hall not to have known that the cousin of his wife's grandfather
had been a polygamist since the case of the latter's son was the legal case of
the century. In fact, the case of James Annesley, the son of that cousin, Lord
Altham, Earl of Anglesea, is
often cited as the precedent setting case for Attorney Client Privilege.
Had Mr. Tyerman referred to Lord Altham, the cousin of Martha
Wesley Hall's grandfather, as a monster and a brute, I would have had no argument with him, because
after Lord Altham took a second wife, he sent away the first, in effect,
divorcing her without any legal proceedings or Bill of Divorcement, then upon the urging of his second
wife, Lord Altham sent away even the son that his first wife had borne him.
Worse yet, he
spread the rumor that this, his own son, had died, effectively disinheriting him! This son,
James Annesley, had barely reached the tender age of ten when he became a
homeless vagabond in the London streets. Three years later, the other cousin of
Martha Wesley Hall's grandfather, Richard, sent James away on a boat to be sold in America as a slave.
After many years, James was able to return to England.12 His case was heard at the
bar of the Court of Exchequer in Dublin. Howell's State Trials refers to it as
"the longest trial ever known, lasting fifteen days, and the jury, most of them,
gentlemen of the greatest property in Ireland, and almost all members of
parliament." Richard Annesley, Lord Altham's cousin who had by default gained
the estate, lost the case to the rightful heir, James Annesley, but continued to
appeal, even to "his Majesty for his seat in the Houses of Peers of both
kingdoms." The rightful heir, James Annesley, ran out of money to fight the
appeals and died penniless. His case could not have escaped the attention of the
Wesleys by 1741, when he returned from America by way of Jamaica and news of it
hit the tabloids.13
Now there was another Annesley of whom the brothers John and Charles
Wesley as well as their brother-in-law, the Reverend Westley Hall must have been acutely aware, their mother's great uncle, the
first Earl of Anglesea. He was an intimate of John Milton, having
received many of his
publications prior to release and a few that were not released till after the
death of John Milton.14 It's clear that this ancestor of the Wesleys would have been privy to
Milton's teachings on divorce and polygamy for within the circle of John Milton, biblical
divorce and its kinder alternative, Christian polygamy, were daily topics for
discussion. Dryden, had worked in the same office with Milton and is fondly
remembered as the author of the following poem:
In pious times, ere priestcraft did begin,
before polygamy was made a sin;
When man on many multiplied his kind,
Ere one to one was cursedly confined;
When nature prompted, and no law denied
Promiscuous use of concubine and bride;
Then Israel's monarch after heaven's own heart,
His vigorous warmth did variously impart
To wives and slaves; and, wide as his command,
Scattered his maker's image through the land.
It was not just the Reverend Westley Hall's
polygamy that Luke Tyerman disagreed with. It was the Reverend Hall's brand of evangelicalism
that opposed popery as well as those churches, which included the
Anglican church, that taught that their own authority came from Rome. In the
Reverend Westley Hall's own poem to his son by Martha
he warns his son against following in the traditions of Rome, something that
nearly every member of every Baptist church in America heard regularly till the
last few decades.
Tyerman condemns him for opposing Romish doctrines instead of
praising him for trusting in God's word alone. Here is a portion of what the
Reverend Westley Hall wrote for his son with which you'll likely agree:
"Inspired with frantic, false, fanatic zeal,
See, with what rage, they threat damnation, -hell,
To all who fair expose the wretched lies,
The frauds, the follies, falsehood, forgeries,
Of Romish fathers, councils, canons, schools,
Impostors' orders, monks' and madmen's rules."
I cannot imagine one Baptist minister prior to
the 1960s who wouldn't
delight in reading the words of the Reverend Westley Hall's poem. Yet Tyerman
hides behind quotes of the late Dr. Clarke to condemn the Reverend Hall for a
poem most Evangelical Christians would agree with. The quote of Dr. Clarke
without Tyerman raising so much as one objection to its tenor is as follows:
"The whole is a miserable Deistical address, strongly advising his
son to follow the dictates of his own nature, as the best way of fulfilling the
purposes of his Creator."
The word "Deistical" is of note for as early as the 16th century,
Viret recognized the use of the it as a pejorative, an insult, not used to truly
describe a person's beliefs but to label them with a bigoted word which was
widely used against anyone who dared speak against the Church of England.15
As I uncover the facts concerning the Reverend Westley Hall's wives and
children I will add them to this article. It is my hope that others will find
additional information that can be added to this as well.
There is an unbroken timeline of polygamous discussion and practice
all the way from Martin Luther into the nineteenth century and at the very
least, the Wesleys were descendents of those who passed forward some of the most
literary of these discussions.
A final note: The Reverend Westley Hall is accused by Mr. Tyerman of
"deserting Martha." If Billy Graham is guilty of deserting his wife during long
evangelical tours then I will accept that other evangelists are guilty of it but
if Billy Graham is excused of it, then so is the Reverend Hall. Some have
accused the Reverend Hall of leaving his wife without support by citing records
of John Wesley giving financial support to Martha during the period that the
Reverend Hall was away on mission. Considering that the Reverend Hall supported
John & Charles Wesley's own mother for nearly seven years and John & Charles
Wesley's own sister, Kezziah, for about the same number of years, the small
favor of helping him make sure support got to his wife during his missionary
absence was nothing. The fact is that the Reverend Hall was receiving support
from other Christians during his missionary absence and
who more likely to have taken care of his finances during that time than John
Wesley, the brother-in-law whose relatives the Reverend Hall had helped support
for so many years. It was no secret that the wives of ministers and missionaries
were being provided for out of a fund that John Wesley had indeed administered
"as measures had been adopted" "to relieve the
preachers from dependence upon secular business for a maintenance, another step
forward for their support, and toward the permanent organization of the lay
ministry, was now taken by the enactment of a regular circuit collection for an
'allowance' to their wives."16
The Reverend Hall, at great risk to life and limb, crossed the
ocean to spread the gospel in Barbados. It appears that two of his wives,
Mrs. E.R. Hall & Mrs. A Hall, accompanied him to Barbados.2 We have no account of why Martha did not wish
to. From the following account of the adventures of the Reverend Westley Hall in
Barbados it's clear that his mission was very dangerous.
"Ten negroes broke into his house; one of whom was upon the point of cutting
his throat when E. R. knocked him down with a pewter pot; which put the rest
into such confusion that she had time to secure herself and her children, and
Mr. H. to leap out of a balcony."
Did the Reverend Hall sin? Of course, but not by taking more than one wife.
I'm not claiming that he was perfect, only that he led just as godly of a life
as his brothers-in-law, the Wesleys.
He practiced what he preached; that polygamy is not forbidden by the Bible. The
Reverend Westley Hall was correct in this as has been proven in many of the
articles on this website.
The Reverend Westley Hall led many to a saving knowledge of Jesus,
not the least of which was Susanna Wesley, mother of the Wesleys. It is my hope
that this article will be the beginning of many articles and possibly even books
that will rehabilitate the reputation of the Reverend Westley Hall that has been
so wrongly tarnished by the slander of men such as Luke Tyerman.
It is of note that after the Reverend Westley Hall went to be with
the Lord that his wife, Martha, enjoyed the company of Dr. Samuel Johnson,
famous in the 18th century for having authored the most popular dictionary of
his era, A Dictionary of the English Language, and his publication,
The Rambler, a twice weekly periodical published from 1750-1752:
"She [Martha Westley Hall] dined often with Dr.
Johnson at Bolt-Court; he ardently admired her, and even wished her to reside in
his own house with Mesdames Williams and DuMoulin."17
This is of particular interest since Samuel Johnson had admitted to fantasies of
having a seraglio.(harem)18
1. In a letter dated December 26, 1761, John Wesley, the founder of the
Methodists wrote to his Brother Charles Wesley concerning a number of things.
One of them was the subject of his polygamous brother, the Reverend Westley
John Wesley wrote:
"Is it right that my sister Patty should suffer Mr. Hall to live with her? I
almost scruple giving her the sacrament, seeing he does not even pretend to
renounce Betty Rogers."
Notice what John Wesley says, "giving her the sacrament," in reference to
whether he should give his sister Martha (Patty) communion since she stays with
her polygamist husband whose other wife is Betty Rogers. John thinks that Martha
should at least be condemning her husband, which she never did. To have a
brother-in-law who is a polygamist is one thing to John Wesley but that his
sister should never say a word against it is quite another.
2. John Wesley - Wesley Journal, Volume 4
"I was well pleased to have some conversation with Mrs. A------1, lately come
from Barbados. [One of the Reverend Westley Hall's wives and so recognized here
by John Wesley. His lack of condemnation of polygamy here may be in deference to
the fact that this is his journal and not a letter containing personal
opinions.] She [One of Westley Hall's wives] gave me an account of her poor
husband (first a red-hot Predestinarian, talking of God's ' blowing whole worlds
to hell,' then a Quaker, now a Deist); as also of the narrow escape which Mr. H.
lately had : 'Ten negroes broke into his house; one of whom was upon the point
of cutting his throat when E. R. [supposedly Westley Hall's favorite wife]
knocked him down with a pewter pot; which put the rest into such confusion that
she had time to secure herself and her children, and Mr. H. to leap out of a
Notice that E.R. had children and of course it's likely that all of the Reverend
Hall's wives had children. I will be researching what happened to these
The Reverend Hall was certainly acting in the capacity of a
missionary in Barbados but we are not made aware of who was supporting him.
Unlike the Reverend Martin Madan, the Reverend Westley Hall was not a rich man.
He would have needed support in his mission work. Imagine, an 18th century
Christian missionary who was also a known polygamist and who still received all
the support he needed from the folks back home! Any condemnations by the many
biographers of the Reverend Westley Hall must therefore be expected to answer
the question: If the Reverend Westley Hall was such a horrible person, why did
the ministers and churches with whom he was associated continue to support him,
full well knowing that he lived with more than one wife during his mission to
Barbados as well as during his evangelistic outreaches back home? In regards to the Reverend Hall's change of denominations, that is not
uncommon, even today. We would hope that Christians who read their Bible will
discover a deeper meaning each day and if led by God to another denomination
will follow the Lord's leading. As for the word deist. It is a pejorative, a
word used to insult, which does not carry the dictionary meaning but simply
means one who does not follow the established church which we must admit, at the
time, was the Church of England.
3. Page 386 The Oxford Methodists by Luke Tyerman Copyright 1873
4. Comparisons to "Judas Iscariot" and "Reuben" are given on the opening page of
Luke Tyerman's slanderous account of the Reverend Westley Hall. He refers to the
account of Reverend Westley Hall to be "nauseous." You would think that if the
Reverend Westley Hall were so "nauseous" that at least once in the 42 years that
he was an ordained minister that he would have been publicly condemned by those
that surrounded him. Yet, not once did any of his peers bring charges against
him where two or three could hear.
5. Page 391 The Oxford Methodists by Luke Tyerman Copyright 1873
6. George Whitefield: God's Anointed Servant in the Great Revival of the
Eighteenth Century By Arnold A. Dallimore Copyright 1990 Page 45
7. Page 395 The Oxford Methodists by Luke Tyerman Copyright 1873, Wesley's Works
Volume 1 Page 286
8. Clarke's Wesley Family, Volume 2 Page 106
9. Memoirs of the life of sir Walter Scott by John Gibson Lockhart Copyright
1850 Page 768 Narrative of the Life of James Annesley
10. Page 370 The History of the Religious Movement of the Eighteenth Century,
Called Methodism. Volume 1
By Abel Stevens, LL.D.
11. Page 577 Memoirs of the Wesley Family
By Adam Clarke
12. The details of this case are given in A Complete Collection of State
Trials and Proceedings for High Treason and Other Crimes and Misdemeanors from
the earliest period till the year 1783 by T.B. Howell, Esq. F.R.S.
13. Cyclopędia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature By John
McClintock, James Strong Copyright 1895 Page 938
14. Page 209 Some account of the life and writings of John Milton
By Henry John Todd 1826
15. "'Deist' was a pejorative label first coined by Pierre Viret in the context
of mid sixteenth century confessional debate to indict those, on authority of
their own consciences took it upon themselves to challenge the articles of
Calvinist Orthodoxy." "'Deists', depending upon who used the word about whom,
did not necessarily have any precise content."
The Columbia History of Western Philosophy, ed R.R. Popkin Page 2
Now the fact is that the Reverend Westley Hall was a Calvinist and his only
so-called unorthodoxy was that he accepted what the Bible said, that there was
no sin in taking more than one wife.
16. Page 441 The History of the Religious Movement of the Eighteenth Century,
Called Methodism. Volume 1
By Abel Stevens, LL.D.
17: Page 53 The History of the Religious Movement of the Eighteenth Century,
Called Methodism. Volume 1
By Abel Stevens, LL.D.
18. Samuel Johnson said, "I have often thought that, if I kept a seraglio, the
ladies should all wear linen gowns, or cotton--I Mean stuffs made of vegetable
substances. I would have no silk; you cannot tell when it is clean; it will be
very nasty before it is perceived to be so. Linen detects its own dirtiness."
Page 182 The Life of Samuel Johnson, LL. D.: Together with The Journal of a Tour
to the Hebrides
By James Boswell, ESQ.
Note: Copyright 2006 Don Milton All Rights Reserved