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William Sagar (1751 - 1809)

According to Colne Parish Records William Sagar was born at Southfield in 1751, as were his father and grandfather bearing the same name in 1720 and 1690 respectively.

William like his father was a successful cloth-merchant. He travelled quite a lot to Scotland with his work and it was whilst he was on one of these business trips in Edinburgh he was converted. His father disapproved of his son being a Methodist and he often locked William out of the family home in protest. William was very religious as was his wife Elizabeth Halstead of Cockdane who he married in 1781. They lived at Southfield and they had five children: Richard, Ann, Sarah, Elizabeth (who died at 6 weeks) and William. The Sagar family have been linked with Southfield since the early 16th century until the death of William Lister Sagar in 1862.

William was an influential and generous man. He is remembered for his commitment to the building of the first Methodist Chapel in Colne Lane, Colne. The chapel was opened by John Wesley in 1771 and so many people attended that the galleries collapsed. Although no lives were lost, many people were seriously injured and many suffered broken limbs. The galleries were rebuilt and the chapel went on to be successful. The building unfortunately was demolished in the mid-1960s.

The journals of John Wesley show that he preached several times at Southfield and ‘enjoyed the hospitality of his friend William Sagar’. At one of these visits William promised Wesley a chapel on his land at Southfield so when he had a barn erected in 1797 a chapel was made in the upper part.

In the year 1809 and at the age of 59 years William Sagar died. His last words were, ‘Take me, take me’. William is buried at Trawden and in Colne Parish Church a memorial stone reads’ William Sagar esq. of Southfield, Merchant who departed this life 12th May 1809 in the 59th year of his age, leaving behind this good testament ‘

Many records have been kept about this William Sagar, hislife before his conversion including his spending habits etc. and of his many contributions in the running of local Colne Circuit. Many of his letters and his diary contain historical information on local Methodism.

William had ‘rules for life’ for every day when at home. ‘Rise at five, if health permit. Spend two hours in meditation and prayer. Call the family together at seven in winter. After prayer, spend until eight in going through tenter-crofts and workshops. Breakfast at eight. From that time till noon in some useful employment, but observe to live in the spirit of prayer and watchfulness: and beware of getting my mind damped with earthly things. Spend three quarters of an hour at noon in reading and prayer. From one till five in some useful employment. Then, if business permit, spend till seven in visiting the sick, following backsliders, speaking a word of comfort to the mourners. From seven to nine retire. Then bed’ – (Annals of Colne by James Carr page 44).


Further Reading:

History of Marsden and Nelson by Walter Bennett

History of Wesleyan Methodism in Burnley and East Lancashire by B Moore JP.

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