Eclectic Society

Summary of Rules Established 26 May

1791 Rules
Summary of Rules for 1791
John Newton's notebook, MS 780
1 To meet at St. John's Chapel, pay 1sh. [1]  fine 2.6 [2]
2 Tea discharged at ½ past 4.
3 Chair filled by rotation.  Bible on the table.  The next question to be proposed and agreed upon.
4 Members to speak in order.
5 Number of members not to exceed thirteen.
6 A new member to be proposed a month before the Ballot — excluded by one negative, and not to be proposed again till after a full year.
7 No member to be admitted if resident beyond the 5mile stones round London. [3]  Nor visitant admitted if within that distance.
8 Thirteen Ministers to be chosen at the first meeting annually, as Rural Deans, who may visit the Society six times in the year. [4]  To be introduced by a member.
9 Other visitants, if balloted for the preceding meeting and there be no negative.
10 No visitant to be admitted, except the Rural Deans, two successive meetings.
11 An exception allowed for missionaries, and what may be deemed by the Society, extraordinary cases.
12 No person to be solicited to become a member, nor to know when he is proposed.
13 No enquiry to be made or suspicions formed concerning the Ballot.
14 Secrecy to be observed as to the debates.
15 The rules to be put into the hands of new members.
16 The meetings every second Monday.
Bedford Row Chapel
Bedford Row Chapel:
corner of Great James Street and Millman Street

IMG4473 teapot

engraved by John Bacon
JN Bible

Newton's Family Bible

[1] 1 sh is one shilling (about £5.25 in 2015)
[2] If a member was absent without sufficient reason and without having notified the others, he was fined “2.6”, i.e. 2/6, two shillings and six pence (about £13.12 in 2015)
[3]  The 5-mile stones marked the area around central London, measured at that time from various points e.g. Cornhill, Royal Exchange, Westminster Bridge. Today Charing Cross is the official measuring point. A good view of the area included can be seen on this 1857 map of Toll Gates in Central London.
[4] On 8 January 1798, Josiah Pratt’s notebook opens with:

"The Society now consists of the following members:

Newton, Bacon, Foster, Pattrick, Scott, Cecil, J Goode, Clayton, Abdy, Venn, Woodd, W Goode, Pratt"

with an addition:

“Davies 12½” — in January 1799 Davies was included as one of 14 members.
1798 Pratt


Cowper & Newton Museum
Church Mission Society

Marylynn Rouse, 19/02/2015