George Gorton and William Gadsby
A young man named George Gorton, who lived at Stow-on-the-Wold, had been in great spiritual distress. Happening to come across William Gadsby’s The Perfect Law of Liberty, under God’s blessing he found the relief he sought in reading it. It was no preaching or sermon he heard, but the reading of this book.
His soul was set at liberty, and after this glorious deliverance he was baptized along with his friend Robert Roff at Stow-on-the-Wold.
A few years later he began to preach but, obviously, he always had a longing desire to see this William Gadsby, so he walked all the way to Manchester – about two hundred miles!
In his obituary in the Gospel Standard, 1877, George Gorton’s friend D. Kevill wrote:
“He spoke to the late Mr. Smith, Baptist minister [Association], Cheltenham, about it; but Mr. S. said, ‘He won’t see you; or, if he does, you will find him a gruff, austere and disagreeable man.’ This stopped him from going for a time. But it was of no use; so eventually he had to start.
He got to Birmingham and slept at a coffee house. He had very little more money in his pocket than would carry him to Manchester, and often wondered how he was to get back. In the evening he had some conversation with the coffee-house keeper, and had his supper, and in the morning his breakfast. To his surprise his host would not take a farthing from him, but, on the contrary, gave him half a crown.
On arriving at Manchester, he made for Mr. Gadsby’s chapel, as he understood it was preaching night (Wednesday). He called at a watchmaker’s, to enquire where the chapel was, and was answered, ‘I attend there, but the service was last night. Mr. Gadsby, however, is to preach tonight at Pendelbury, about five miles from here.’
Mr. Gorton started off, walked to Pendlebury, and went to the room. The people waited, and waited, but Mr. Gadsby came not. At length they said to Mr. Gorton, ‘You are a preacher; you must preach.’ He objected; but was at last compelled to give way.
When service was over, they said, ‘Now you have done Mr. Gadsby’s work you must have Mr. Gadsby’s bed.’ In the morning, a friend went with him to Mr. Gadsby’s house. He was sitting in his armchair, very poorly. The friend introduced Mr. Gorton, and then mentioned what had occurred at Pendlebury. Mr. Gorton then gave an account of the Lord’s dealings with him, and how Mr. Gadsby’s writings had been blessed to his soul.
‘Instead of finding him that gruff old man that had been represented to me,’ said Mr. Gorton, when relating the circumstance, ‘the tears rolled down his face, and he said to me, “Now mind; while you stop in Manchester you must make my house your home; you must not go anywhere else.”’
Of course Mr. Gorton had no difficulty in finding the means to return home.”
By B.A. Ramsbottom