as labouring men, the itinerants included forceful women preachers, such as Ann ('Praying Nanny') Cutler, Mary Barritt or Elizabeth Tomlinson.
The growth of evangelical Dissent between 1790 and 1815 in Britain was unprecedented, as tens of thousands experienced conversion. By law, Dissenting congregations were required to register with the local magistrates. Between 1781 and 1790, 1,405 new Dissenting congregations were registered in England. This number rose to 4,245 new congregations between 1791 and 1800, and to 5,434 new Dissenting congregations between 1801 and 1810. The numbers of Methodists in England increased from about 47,000 in 1786 to 190,000 by 1816.5 In Ireland, Methodist numbers rose from about 14,000 to 29,000 between 1791 and 1815, with most of this growth occurring among the linen weavers in Ulster.6 In Scotland, the Society for Propagating the Gospel at Home, formed in 1798, conducted a vigorous evangelical mission, resulting in the formation of scores of Independent and later Baptist congregations by 1815. Connections were formed with the revival movement, known as the Second Great Awakening, now emerging across the Atlantic in the new American republic. From 1805, American itinerant preachers, such as Lorenzo 'Crazy' Dow - with his long patriarchal beard and wild eyes - began arriving in Britain and Ireland, bringing with them the revival methods of the American frontier, including the 'camp meetings', large outdoor gatherings which continued for several days. The first English camp meeting was held by Methodists in May 1807 at Mow Cop in Staffordshire.
The evangelistic activity was accompanied by efforts to instil basic literacy among the lower social orders through the Sunday school movement. Sunday schools, largely non-denominational in nature, provided instruction in reading as well as Christian doctrine, and they were largely organized and taught by lay Christians from the labouring orders. In 1788, there were about 60,000 Sunday school enrolments in England. This number increased to over 94,000 in 1795, 206,000 in 1801, and 415,000 in 1811.7
Within the established churches in Britain and Ireland, a growing number were also drawn into this movement of Christian revival. A circle of wealthy and committed evangelicals, mainly members of the established Church of England and based in the London neighbourhood of Clapham, began in the 1790s to cultivate a strict personal and family piety and to organize home and overseas mission work. This circle included William Wilberforce, the opponent of slavery, whose Practical view of the prevailing religious system of professedChristians was published in 1797 and had an immense effect in spreading an evangelical Christianity amongthe upper social orders. It also included Hannah More, the patron of Sunday schools, whose 'Cheap repository tracts', published
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