Fletcher-Tooth Collection

Date range: 1760–1843.

The Fletcher-Tooth Collection is the largest single collection of personal papers in the Methodist archives and represents an exceptionally rich resource for the study of religion and society in one parish.

The collection is the creation of the ordained Anglican evangelical John Fletcher (1729–85), his wife, the female preacher Mary Bosanquet-Fletcher (1739–1815), and Mary’s long-time housekeeper and companion, Mary Tooth (1773–1843).

The archive comprises several thousand letters, journals, diaries and commonplace books, together with spiritual autobiographies, sermons, scripture notes and associated papers.

The collection spans almost one hundred years, from 1760 to 1843, charting in detail the effects of the Evangelical Revival and in particular its impact on the parish of Madeley in Shropshire.

The papers illuminate a wide range of topics, from the interface between evangelical Anglicanism and Methodism, to overseas missions and ecumenical relations.

The archive contextualizes these religious developments within the social and economic development of a town that was an early centre of the industrial revolution.

The collection will be of particular interest to students of gender studies.

Mary Bosanquet-Fletcher was one of the earliest women preachers of Methodism, and for over fifty years she was regarded as a paradigm of spiritual leadership. Through her papers and those of her wide circle of correspondents, it is possible to trace the transition of Methodism from Anglican revival movement to independent denomination and the effects this had on the women who formed the majority of the movement.

The archive includes several hundred manuscript sermons preached by Bosanquet-Fletcher; these constitute the only collection of sermons preached by a female that have survived from the eighteenth-century Evangelical Revival.

See also the John Fletcher Library contained within the Methodist printed book and periodical collections.

Finding aids

  • Catalogue of correspondence available online via ELGAR.
  • Unpublished box lists of remainder of archive.


The John Rylands Library

Using the reading rooms in the John Rylands Library