Samuel Wesley, father of John and Charles Wesley who founded Methodism, was imprisoned in the debtors' prison at Lincoln Castle

Although his sons, John and Charles, established Methodism, Samuel Wesley (1662–1735) was a devout supporter of the Church of England. In 1695 he became Rector of Epworth in North Lincolnshire ─ a parish he served for 40 years. But Samuel was unpopular with his parishioners. His uncompromising and austere character, together with his intellectual manner, were at odds with the simple ways of this rural community.

Samuel's incompetence at managing his financial affairs meant he was constantly in debt. In the autumn of 1705, he was imprisoned at Lincoln Castle for owing the sum of £30. While in the debtors' prison, he was permitted to read prayers and preach to his 'brother gaol-birds'.

Samuel died in 1735 and was buried in the churchyard in Epworth. The Old Rectory in Epworth, where Samuel lived with his wife Susannah and their children, is now a museum and managed by a charitable trust.  

Crime, punishment and prisoners

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