The Harland diaspora
Epworth  is a thriving market town. It is known as the home of the Wesley family, giving it claim to the title of “the cradle of Methodism.” A Wesley Trail in the town connects the primary sites of Methodist heritage. John and Charles Wesley’s father, Samuel, was Rector of historic St. Andrew’s Parish Church from 1695 to 1735. It was in this church that John (1703 – 1791) and Charles (1707 – 1788) were baptized and received their first communions. After his ordination, John was curate for a time to his father. In later life, when he was denied access to the church, he preached from his father’s tomb to almost the entire population of the town. The grave is in the churchyard, just outside the south door of the chancel. The church occupies a commanding position overlooking the town. It has its origins in the 12th century, also has architectural features from the 12th to the 15th century, as well as later additions. (Sources)

The extensive hand-written notes  by John Harland (1854) in the bible of 1714 are best reported by adding the following Transposition:-

Key to notation:
Items marked in blue are my own comments or directions that describe where the transcribed text is found on the original page.

Items marked in green are inserted for clarity because their meaning is quite apparent.  They are often notated with a " symbol on the original page.

Items marked in read denote a degree of uncertainty in my transcription.  A word followed by a single question mark (?) means that I made my best guess at the word in question but am uncertain to its correctness.

Text from top left corner is defaced and annotated at the bottom of the page

(Text from top right corner)
From Lincoln Friends Quarterly Meeting Book of marriages.
John Harland of Beltoft, married Ann Windor 1724.
William Harland, Beltoft married Ann Seaton 1727 at Beltoft
Sara Harland married John Knowles? of Belftoft 1722.

John Harland Son of John and Ann Harland of Ealand, Lincolnshire Born 1725
Mary (daughter of John and Ann Harland of Ealand, Lincolnshire Born) 1726
Thomas (son of John and Ann Harland of Ealand, Lincolnshire Born) 1729

Abraham/Sara Harland (Twins) born to William and Ann Harland of Beltoft 1729

John Harland imprisoned as Non tithe payer as Quaker having conscientious objection to do so

(Worn out text from upper central left)
John Harland born 1784
Mary Leslie his wife 1798
Thomas Harland 1819

Thomas (1819) married Margaret Herdman of Derrydrummuck Loughbrickland and there were born
John Harland May 25th 1854 –    Married Emma G Wells of Dublin 1880

Son Thomas Wells born Mar 1881
Wm. Frederick born Dec 1882                                                                         
John Herdman born Jan 1885                                                                         
Robert Wallace born June 1888
Also married (i.e. John Harland 1854) Elizabeth Thornton of Portadown

Daughter Eleanor Chain  In the other bible the spelling of both these names is changed to ELINOR CHEYNE and these second spellings were used by her.   

Son David Noel                                                                                
Son Arthur Thornton

Mary Harland 1857?
Robert Harland July 1855
and Sara Herdman
Agnes Harland Nov 7th 1863
Margaret Harland April 26 1865
Thomas Harland march 29 1870

(text in centre of page)
Copy of minute of Gainsboro meeting 9th of 8th – 1724.
At a monthly meeting of the above, John Harland of Beltoft and Ann Winder of Ealand appeared inthis meeting and published their intention of marriage with each other but this being the first time they are desired to wait Friends answer at the next monthly meeting to which he is desired to bring a certificate from Ellington M.M to signify his conversation and unity? With Friends and also his cleanness on account of marriage and she is desired to bring a certificate from her mother to her consent.  John Orry/Berry? and John Berrier/Brewer? are appointed to make enquiries of his cleanness from other women since he has resided in the compass of their meeting.

At the next monthly meeting at Epworth J Harland and A Winder appeared again in this meeting and published their continued intentions of marriage with each other and also a certificate of their cleanness being produced as desired by our last M.M. they are left to their liberty for the accomplishing their said intended marriage according to the good order practiced amongst Friends.  They were
married at Beltoft 9th mo 9th 1724 (or 19th)  He appeared at the next M M at Beltoft Brigg/Brugg as present from the isle of Axholme.  They had children as above and also Joseph born 1733 Jonathan 1734 and William 1743

John Harland of Ealand died 29 of 1st – 1744 and was buried at Crowle.  Ann his widow of Crowle died
16 of V (i.e. May)1784?.

Fought against non payment of tithes and was constantly fined & upbraided from 1725 to 1743 in various sums and incarcerated. (see minute of sympathy in Broughton M M books to him when in jail.)

(text near lower right binding)
Directions to Crowle
6 ½ miles N from Epworth
13 miles south from Goole
17 miles NE from Doncaster
17 miles N from Gainsboro

(annotations near the bottom of the page)
The Isle of Axholme is that part of::-
NW Lincolnshire cut off by the Trent from the rest of the County.  Epworth is also in Axholme
 Name at top nearly defaced ‘Alice daughter of Thomas Wray Ormokirk baptized 22 November 1670.’

This transposition was made by Sean Genis October 2008.

John Harland (1854) left no explanation as to why he recorded this family in such detail. One can only postulate on possible reasons. Could it be that he was led to those records because of some link that was clear to him then, but that is now lost forever? Was it because his namesake John Harland (1724) had been willing to go to gaol because of his Quaker membership? The Society of Friends – the Quakers - did indeed provide many English volunteers for the plantation of Ulster, especially in the Lurgan area of Co. Armagh, and the neighbouring parish of Donaghcloney Co. Down. To this day there are still Harlands living in Lurgan with connections to the Society of Friends.

Or, was the link with ‘the cradle of Methodism’ at Epworth. The Methodist Church, as will be shown below, had a huge influence on several generations of these Ulster Harlands. John Wesley visited Lurgan seven times and these visits could be the first links in this chain.  On his first visit on 28th July 1756, he "preached to the largest congregation since he left Cork".  He described some of his Lurgan congregation, during his visit of 18th/19th June 1778, as "wild as colts untamed". On his final visit to the town on 13th June 1785, Wesley had reached the age of 82. On a visit to neighbouring Portadown in 1767 Wesley commented on that sleepy place of some 700 inhabitants with these words, “It is a town not troubled by any kind of religion” (Sources). The parish churches nearby were at Drumcree and Seagoe.

Genealogy is thought to be a very modern science.  But John Harland (1854) of Bessbrook, County Armagh, must have been an early proponent; for some time in the 1920s or 1930s, he carried out his own research into another ancient branch of the Harland family. This embryo genealogist travelled to the east midlands of England, to an area of North Lincolnshire known as the Isle of Axholme. This was an isolated area, cut off from the rest of the County by the River Trent. At this point the Trent is heading north to join its wide and busy waters to the River Ouse to create the Humber Estuary.


John Harland (1854) set off to research the records of a Harland family from the village of Ealand, north Lincolnshire, about 10 west of the town of Scunthorpe. Also included in his notes is the village of Beltoft, which lies some five miles southeast of Ealand.  His records were copied from the Lincoln Friends Quarterly Meeting Book of Marriages. He includes mention of the towns of Crowle, Lincolnshire, just over a mile north of Ealand, and Epworth some 10 miles south – (all three places are to be found on the – modern - A161 - the road marked in red on the maps)