William Seward was a wealthy supporter of the work that George Whitefield and Howell Harris were doing.
He also helped John Wesley with generous funding for the meeting place in Bristol, even though Wesley was assuming a leadership role there that Seward felt excluded Whitefield (See here for how Whitefield began the work in Bristol).
Seward had accompanied these preachers and witnessed both the joys and dangers of massive crowds.
In 1740 he travelled with Howell Harris in Wales and records several occasions when the crowds became violent.
Seward with Howell Harris
On Sept 9 he wrote, ‘We had been singing and praying and discoursing for half an hour when the mob began to be outrageous, and to pelt us…till at length I was struck with a stone upon my eye, which caused me so much anguish that I was forced to go away to the Inn.
‘Bro. Harris continued to discourse for some time afterward…I got my eye dressed and went to bed as soon as possible.
The next morning they went out again, preaching in the same place to the same crowds.
Stones, dirt, a cat and a dead dog
Seward writes, ‘We had continual showers of stones, walnuts, dirt, a cat and also a dead dog thrown at us…
‘I was struck on my forehead and under my right eye again, and also on my side with a stone.
‘A drum was ordered to be beat, which drowned [our] voices…the Book [the Bible] was all covered with dirt.
‘After Bro. Harris had done, I spoke a few words, but I found my call was more to suffer than to preach.’ (from William Seward, ‘Journal of a Voyage from Savannah to Philadelphia and from Philadelphia to England’ p.27)
Perhaps he should have backed down. Perhaps he should have let others do the preaching. Perhaps…
Seward would accompany Harris again in October, 1740 as Harris preached powerfully to hostile crowds. It would be the last time Seward would share in the struggle to bring Britain to Christ.