Esther Hewlett Copley was a Baptist writer of fiction (children) and histories, born in London to a silk manufacturer, a French Huguenot. She married James Hewlett, evangelical curate at St Aldates, Oxford, in 1809, and chaplain at Magdalen and New College. In 1827 she married William Copley, Baptist minister at the congregation in New Road, Oxford, where she had already joined after the death of her husband. In 1837 he became minister at Eythorne, Kent, but her husband suffered signs of alcoholism, and he eventually left her in 1843. She remained at Eythorne until her death in 1851, but left the Baptist chapel in 1844, though she remained a Baptist. She wrote prolifically after 1815, mostly works for children, religious and moral tracts (uniting morality with domestic economy), and sacred history and biography, including Cottage Comforts (1825), The Young Servant’s Friendly Instructor (1827), and her Catechism of Domestic Economy (1850). Among her works for adolescent readers are The Old Man's Head, or, Youthful Recollections (1823), My Mother's Stories, or, Traditions and Recollections (1838), The Poplar Grove, or, Little Harry and his Uncle Benjamin (1841), and Family Experiences and Home Secrets (1851). Among her works written for young readers are Scripture Natural History for Youth (1828), Scripture History for Youth (1829), and Scripture Biography (1835), and a work deserving of more recognition, A History of Slavery and its Abolition (1836). For more on Copley and related topics, see Sarah Richardson, Political Worlds of Women: Gender and Politics in Nineteenth Century Britain (New York: Routledge, 2013); and Marion Ann Taylor and Heather E. Weir, Let Her Speak for Herself: Nineteenth-century Women Writing on the Women of Genesis (Waco, TX: Baylor UP, 2006).

Annotated List of Works

Cottage Comforts, with Hints for Promoting them, Gleaned from Experience: Enlivened with Authentic Anecdotes. London: Simpkin and Marshall, 1830.

In this book Copley provides her readers with practical domestic advice. Her first chapter expounds upon moral character for working-class women. She includes anecdotes to teach integrity, sincerity, prudence, frugality and subordination. Her second and third chapters included ways in which to choose a cottage as a living space and how to take a cottage through monetary agreements. Chapter four and five detail how to care for, decorate, and furnish a cottage comfortably. The sixth chapter deals with incomes and expenditures of the home. Chapters seven and eight discuss the cottage economy and keeping cattle and other animals. Chapter nine deals with gardening. The tenth and twelfth chapters discuss raising infants and children’s education. Chapter eleven details what to do in case of sickness or injury. Chapter thirteen discussion recreation. Chapters thirteen, fourteen, and fifteen are much shorter but explain how to be a good neighbor, cottage libraries, and how to find loyalty and commitment in a relationship. Copley concludes her book by stating that “But you were not brought into this world, merely to for yourselves home, food, and raiment, and to bring up your children in respectability and comfort. No; all these things will soon be done with, all around you is short lived, and you yourselves are dying creatures; every day you see or hear of the death of your fellow creatures and you know that your own turn must come”. But the most important part of the human is the soul, which is immortal. By following God’s word and true religion, you may enjoy life, and be conducted “safely to an everlasting habitation.”

Hints on the Cholera Morbus. London: W. Darton and Son, 1832.

This 16-page pamphlet begins by addressing a Cholera outbreak in India. She mentions how thousands of deaths due to Cholera in India would scarcely affect many of the readers, but she reminds the readers that the human life is just as precious in India as it is in England. Copley compares Cholera to a distant rumbling of thunder, once heard afar but now a hazard closing in on the surrounding lands. As the threat approaches, it is a good idea to learn of the nature of the coming danger in an attempt to be able to ward themselves of the sickness. Up until the time of writing England has not been plagued by Cholera, but they have known diseases of the like which prompts Copley to generate a list of precautions to follow in an attempt guard against the disease. She acknowledges that people of a lower class, suffering due to poverty are more prone to sickness due to their meager diet and being more prone to depression which weakens the body. The offered remedy for this is for the more affluent to help the poor; for if the poverty-stricken become sick with Cholera, it will infect all and ravage the country. She reminds the reader of their Christian morals to help those in need. She also calls on the poorer to spend their money not on unnecessary things, but on good food.

Other causes of the disease she finds is in crowded, unclean living and in depressive mental states. Her remedy for the housing situation is to open windows more often, cleaning of the person and clothing, and removing anything filthy and offensive. Her remedy for depressions is in cultivating a spirit that is inoffensive to God and if the spirit is in close friendship to God, then one should not fear what comes to them at God’s hand. Copley closes her pamphlet with another list of precautions pertaining to how to avoid catching infection as well as how to trust in God and His many ways. She ends by saying “If we are Christians, we ought to be intent on Christian usefulness; and the apprehension or even rumour of approaching pestilence, should stimulate us to fresh diligence and ardour.”

Works by Copley

A Brief View of Sacred History from the Creation of the World to the Destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans. London: William Darton and Son, 1831.

A History of Slavery and Its Abolition. London: Houlston & Stoneman, 1839.

Ann and Her Doll. London: William Dartson, 1832.

Catechism of Domestic Economy. London: Groombridge & Son, 1851.

Cottage Comforts, with Hints for Promoting them, Gleaned from Experience: Enlivened with Authentic Anecdotes. London: Simpkin and Marshall, 1830.

Cottage Cookery. London: Groombridge &, 1849.

Hints for Happy Homes, or, Family Experiences. London, 1859.

Hints on the Cholera Morbus. London: W. Darton and Son, 1832.

My Mother's Stories, or, Traditions and Recollections. London: Printed for Houlston and Co., 65, Paternoster-Row, 1838.

Samuel Moore's Secret: And Other Tales of Home Secrets. London: Dean and Son, 1857.

Scripture Biography Comprehending All the Names Mentioned in the Old and New Testaments. London, 1835.

Scripture History for Youth. London: H. Fisher, & P. Jack, 1829.

The Cook's Complete Guide on the Principles of Frugality, Comfort, and Elegance : Including the Art of Carving, and the Most Approved Method of Setting-Out a Table ... Instructions for Preserving Health and Attaining Old Age ... Rules for Cultivating a Garden and Numerous Useful Miscellaneous Receipts. London: George Virtue, 1810.

The Girl's Week-Day Book. 2nd ed. London: The Religious Tract Society, 1839.

The Housekeeper's Guide; or, a Plain and Practical System of Domestic Cookery. London: Longman & Co., etc., 1838.

The Little Cowslip-Gathers: Or, What a Penny Will Do. London: Darton and Clark, 1840.

The Poplar Grove, or, Little Harry and His Uncle Benjamin : A Tale for Youth. London: Thomas Tegg, 1841.

The Young Servant, or, Aunt Susan and Her Nieces. 5th ed. London: Religious Tract Society, 1841.

The Young Servant's Friendly Instructor, or, a Summary of the Duties of Domestic Servants, Arranged in the Way of Question and Answer. London: Published by Simpkin and Marshall, 1827.

The Young Woman's Own Book and Female Instructor : A Compendium of Practical Instruction, Designed to Form the Character for the Various and Important Duties of Daughter, Sister, Wife, Mother, Friend. London: Fisher, and Co., 1840.

Youthful Recollections, or, Tales of My Schoolfellows. London: William Darton & Son, 1835.

This page assisted by Kaitlyn Johnson, Georgia Southern University