Justice Walk and John Wesley’s flight from justice

(c) DACS; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
John Wesley

This day in London’s history: on 8 February 1736 brothers John and Charles Wesley, considered to be the founders of Methodism, arrived in Savannah, Georgia. Wesley, though born in Lincolnshire, went to London at the age of 11 and has connections with many street names: one of these is, appropriately enough, Worship Street in Shoreditch, where Shakespeare is reputed to have once lived.

Appropriate though it may be, the name is nothing to do with religion, worship, or prayers. It takes its name from an Elizabeth merchant tailor, John Worsop, who owned over six acres of land in the area. It is more likely that the street was named for him, and then corrupted to its present form.

A plaque commemorating the Wesley brothers

There is, however, a Wesley and worship connection: the street was once home to a foundry, used for the casting of cannons during the Civil War, and later used by John Wesley as a place of worship.

Incidentally, the Savannah journey was not the most successful of trips as John’s involvement with a fellow trans-Atlantic traveller led to him eventually fleeing the US with a tarnished reputation. His courtship of Sophia Hopkey was unsuccessful; she married someone else, Wesley refused to give her communion, and she and her husband brought suit against Wesley for ecclesiastical irregularities.

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