There was very active Methodist community in North Molton and Methodism was to play an important part in John Karslake’s life. He converted to Methodism in 1844, started to work in the local Sunday School and became a local preacher. For over half a century he preached in most of the chapels in the South Molton, Barnstable and Ilfracombe circuits. He was also for many years Superintendent of the North Molton, Braunton and Mortehoe Sunday Schools.
He may well have gone to a Methodist school as a child. The local preacher of the North Molton Methodist Society, Mr May, ran an eminently successful school there in the mid C18th. There was no state-aided, National School in North Molton at this time. The first of these - built to house 90 – 105 boys upstairs and the same number of girls downstairs. - was not opened until 1841 by which time John was 15 and had left school to work as a farm labourer on William Passmore’s farm at North Radworthy.
The local interest in Methodism dates back to the mid-eighteenth century when a William Roberts promoted Methodism in Tiverton and “succeeded in introducing Methodism into Northmolton, between which place and Tiverton there was considerable commercial intercourse, the former having at that time a large trade in wool and yarns, and the latter being an extensive manufacturing town.”