WHEN SUSANNA ANNESLEY, the 25th child of Dr. Annesley, was born to his second wife there probably was not much discussion about her or her future. Little could the family dream that she would become the mother of John and Charles Wesley, the founders of worldwide Methodism. Susanna was an "old lady of 19" (almost a late marriage in those days) when she became the wife of Samuel Wesley, an Anglican minister.
The Wesley family traced their lineage to the 10th century, but ancestry did little to help the problems of their forty-four year marriage. They suffered illness, disease, poverty, and the death of children. Fire twice destroyed their home. But through it all Susanna accepted the will of God and placed herself and her family in His hands.
Politically Samuel and Susanna were both Tories, but while Samuel accepted William of Orange as King William III, Susanna considered James II to be the true king. Once in 1701 Susanna refused to say "Amen" to Samuel's prayer for King William. Tension ensued. Samuel left for London as a Convocation proctor for a year. He returned in 1702 when Queen Anne, whom they both acknowledged as the legitimate sovereign, came to the throne. So in a real sense, we might say that John was the child of their reconciliation.
Susanna bore between seventeen and nineteen children; ten survived. The frequent absences of her husband on church business left the management of the household in her hands. Through it all she remained a steadfast Christian who taught not only through the Scriptures, but through her own example of daily trust in God. She once wrote: We must know God experientially for unless the heart perceive and know Him to be to be the supreme good, her only happiness, unless the soul feel and acknowledge that she can have no repose, no peace, no joy, but in loving and being loved by Him.
The children were raised strictly. They were taught to cry softly, to eat what was put before them, and not to raise their voices or play noisily. Physical punishment was used, but confession of faults could avoid it. All but one of the children learned to read from the age of five, including the girls. (Susanna made it a rule for herself to spend an hour a day with each of the children over the period of a week.) After the fire of 1709 family discipline broke down, but Susanna managed to restore it later. She paid special attention to John, who was almost lost in the fire. He referred to himself as "a brand plucked from the burning fire," and his mother said that she intended to be more particularly careful of the soul of this child that Thou hast so mercifully provided for, than ever I have been, that I may do my endeavors to instill into his mind the disciplines of Thy true religion and virtue.
It is said that at the age of six or seven John thought he would never marry "because I could never find such a woman as my father had." After Samuel Wesley died in 1735, Susanna lived with her children, especially, in her last year, with John. She died on July 23, 1742 and was buried in London's Bunhill Fields, where John Bunyan and Isaac Watts are also buried. Her sons won tens of thousands of souls to Christ. She would not have wished for more.