SIMPSON, Thomas - John Wesley's Will
Proceedings of the Wesley Historical Society
Thomas Simpson, ‘now or late of Aberdeen, gentleman’ (line 12), who received Wesley’s watch as well as being one of the three trustees, and his wife Christian, who appears later on the second page in line 8 as a beneficiary, are the headmaster of Kingswood and his otherwise unnamed Presbyterian tartar of a wife, who have gone down in Methodist report as the joint bane of the young Adam Clarke.3
Simpson was a Scot, presumably with a degree from Aberdeen. He appears on the stations, often in Scotland, between 1765 to 1772.
He was a witness to the 1768 Will. However Wesley had him as Headmaster of Kingswood by January 1770 and dearly he was still there when this Will was made.
In autumn 1770 he was travelling again but by December he was back at Kingswood, where he remained til 1783.
In that year he was dismissed for the ‘corruption’ there. Ives shows this means mismanagement, bullying and neglect of the preacher’s sons4. Perhaps Clarke had got Wesley’s ear and had told Wesley his experience at Kingswood. Simpson opened his own school at Keynsham, doubtless in rivalry with Kingswood and taking away some of Kingswood’s pupils. His son eventually became vicar there. Despite all this, relations with Wesley seem to have remained good.
Simpson’s sister became housekeeper at Kingswood in September 1783 and Wesley visited Simpson in 1787, typical of his generally good relations with men who had left his order of travelling preachers. In any case in 1770 Wesley trusted Simpson as being like the other two former Methodist preachers, and now Headmaster of Kingswood.
Christian or Christiana, presumably Simpson’s wife, was also named as a beneficiary in the 1768 Will. Then ‘at Aberdeen’, she was bequeathed ‘all the Books that shall remain with her at the time of my decease’. Was she acting as a most northerly base for the travelling preachers, a sort of embryo Orphan House or New Room for Scotland, with books left by Wesley in Aberdeen for those preachers who ventured to the frozen North?
In 1768 James Morgan was to receive Wesley’s watch. He was an Irish preacher, settled in Dublin in 1767, whose constitution made him unable to itinerate. After the 1768 Will he quarrelled with Olivers and ‘sank into deep mysticism.’ In 1770 Wesley thought Simpson more worthy.