from the Christian History Institute:
John Wesley's father Samuel was a Church of England rector at Epworth. Few people attended the town’s only church. For the most part, the parish consisted of rough folk, and Samuel was not popular with them. Parishioners mutilated his animals and endangered his family. So hostile were some of them that on this night, 9 February 1709, they set the rectory (parsonage) on fire.
All of the family and servants escaped except five-year-old John, who had slept through the commotion. His nursery was directly under the flaming roof. He awoke and his frightened face appeared at the window, crying for help. Samuel made his way back into the house, but the flaming staircase crumbled under his weight. His wife Susanna tried entering through a second door, but the flames were overpowering. It seemed John was doomed because there was no time to fetch a ladder.
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