Not much is known about the lives of Oxford’s Methodist lay women in the late 18th and early 19th century. In this obituary from the Wesleyan Methodist Magazine of 1842, however, we get a glimpse of one such life:
August 24th – At Oxford, Mrs White, in the eightieth year of her age. She was brought to seek and obtain salvation under the Wesleyan ministry, joined herself to the society, and was in consequence exposed to much persecution. She however, held the profession of her faith without wavering; and, for many years, manifested a life of active devotedness in the service of the Redeemer. By reason of the infirmities of age, she was for some time prevented being so actively zealous as she was previously; yet she held fast her confidence in Christ, rejoicing in his name, and in the prosperity of his cause. Her affliction, though long, and oftentimes painful, was sustained with patience. She died in peace, in the fiftieth year of her membership with the Wesleyan Society.
Born in 1762, Mary White would have been well aware of the challenge of being a Methodist, especially in Oxford. She seems to have joined the Society just after John Wesley’s death. She would have been aged 55 by the time that the New Inn Hall Street chapel was opened in 1817, so would originally have been a member of the worshipping community in the building at 32 – 34 New Inn Street. It is possible that she was present when the building and worshippers were attacked by anti Methodist rioters in 1792.