Mount of John Wesley

Photo: North Lincolnshire Museum CC By SA2.0
Object type: Mount
Period: Post Medieval
Primary material: Copper alloy
Date found: 12/01/2023
Location: Epworth, North Lincolnshire


A plain copper-alloy mount bearing the initials “JW”. It was found in the grounds of the family home of the Wesley family and the birthplace of John Wesley. As the PAS record states, it’s possible that this mount belonged to John Wesley but as it also rightly cautions “There were doubtless many others who shared the initials J W in the Isle of Axholme in the later 17th and 18th centuries“. It has been designated a Find of Note of County Importance.

I thought a little research was in order to see if anything could support the connection with John Wesley and after doing just that, I think I would go further than saying that it just belonged to him.

John Wesley

Epworth Rectory
From Epworth to London with John Wesley, Cleveland, Ohio: Cleveland Printing and Publishing, 1890

John Wesley was born at Epworth Rectory in 1703 and lived to the age of 87. in 1738 began his own ministry, which was effectively the start of Methodism.

From the outset, Methodists kept a keen eye on their spending and the modest mount is in keeping with this. The suggested date for the mount fits well with John Wesley’s life.


Wesley would travel from place to place on horseback in both England and America to preach in the open air.

Statue of John Wesley by Arthur George Walker at the Wesley Theological Seminary, Washington, D.C. Photo: Angela N., CC BY 2.0

There are several statues and numerous images of Wesley on horseback with some showing him reading while he was riding. Some even show him writing at some sort of small desk, which is attached to the saddle.

This is all consistent with the PAS record saying “The robust construction and fixings may suggest this was attached to a substantial item of horse furniture, perhaps a saddle.

“JW” brand

During my short research into John Wesley it became clear that he was known as “JW” and it even became something of a brand for him; his personal seal was the letters “JW” with “Believe Love Obey” around the outside. When writing to friends he would sign off the letter with “JW”1. In books he would mark passages with “JW”2 and when other wrote to him they would be addressed to “JW”3

Stained glass window at Wesley’s Chapel & Leysian Mission in London

John Wesley and his brother Charles are depicted in a stained glass window, made in 1924, in Wesley’s Chapel & Leysian Mission, London. They are both identified by their initials.

Therefore, although there may have been other people near Epworth in the 17th and 18th centuries with the initials “JW”, it wouldn’t make sense for them to just use those to identify their belongings as these initials were so strongly linked with John Wesley.

Inscribing his own initials

The final intriguing aspect of my look at the life of John Wesley was the discovery of his penchant for etching his own initials on things.

As with the piece of glass shown he would sometimes etch “J Wesley” on the glass. On another occasion he wrote a poem on a pane of glass and then wrote his initials diagonally across it4

As shown by etched glass the style of the J and W are similar to those on the mount.

This all leads me to speculate that not only did this mount belong to John Wesley but the initials may have been written by the man himself.


  1. LETTERS OF JOHN WESLEY, Augustine Birrel, 1915
  2. John Wesley’s Reading:Evidence in the Book Collection at Wesley’s House, London. Randy L. Maddox, 2003
  3. John Wesley and George Whitefield, Irwin W. Reist
  4. John Wesley & Wesleyanism In New Mills by Steve Lewis