250th Anniversary of the Marriage of Charles Wesley to Sally Gwynne

Marriage of Charles Wesley

On the 8th April 1749 at Llanlleonfel Church, Breconshire in South Wales, Miss Sally Gwynne (1726 – 1822), the daughter of prosperity and privilege, became the wife of Charles Wesley (1707 – 1788), scholar, preacher, poet and evangelist.

In the autumn and winter of 1747-1748 Charles made an extensive visit to Ireland with a return visit in the following August. One indirect result of these visits was his acquaintance with the family of Marmaduke Gwynne of Garth, Breconshire, and in particular with one of his nine children, the daughter Sarah.

Charles Wesley’s first introduction to Marmaduke Gwynne, a wealthy magistrate and early Methodist patron, had been on 31st July 1745, when he and his brother John accompanied by Mr Gwynne examined the Bristol Society. The following five days in Bristol the three of them together with others met for the second Methodist Conference.

Charles’ acquaintance with Sally quickly ripened into romance hampered only by his unsettled life and lack of a guaranteed income. The latter was overcome when John Wesley guaranteed an income of £100 a year from the publication of Charles’s hymns.

Sally and Charles were married by John Wesley in Llanlleonfel Church on 8th April 1749. John Wesley in his Journal tersely writes “I married my brother and Sarah Gwynne. It was a solemn day, such as became the dignity of a Christian marriage.”

Charles in his Journal writes more fully of the day. How he was up at four and with John and Sally spent three and a half hours in prayer before going to the church at eight. “…. Mr Gwynne gave Sally to me (under God). My brother joined our hands. It was a most solemn season of love! Never had I more of the Divine presence at the sacrament John prayed over us in strong faith. We walked back to the house, and joined again in prayer…”

Though it did not put an end to his itinerant life, marriage proved to be a source of great strength and comfort to Charles.

He poured out his ardent devotion to Sally in a series of poems, some of which were later adapted for more public use.

One such still in use is the hymn “Thou God of truth and love”, with its lines “Didst Thou not make us one that both might one remain.”

Soon after their marriage, Charles and Sally made their home in Bristol for twenty-one years until they moved to London in 1771.

They had eight children, of whom five died in infancy.

The three who survived were all gifted. Their daughter Sally had wit and some literary talent, while her brothers Charles and Samuel were among the most eminent musicians of their day.

Samuel’s son Samuel Sebastian Wesley, became an even more gifted musician.

ohn and Charles Wesley