Henrietta Neale was originally from London before settling in Northampton with her mother and sisters. She became a Baptist prose writer, hymn writer for children, school teacher, and diarist, first in Northampton and then at Luton, where she conducted a school. John Ryland, Jr., Neale’s minister for many years in Northampton, notes in his Preface (dated April 11, 1803) to Experimental Religion Delineated in a Selection from the Diary of the late Miss H. Neale, author of ‘Sacred History in Familiar Dialogues (1803) that “religious truth is suited, above every thing else, not only to affect the heart in some degree, but to produce the strongest emotions which can be felt by the human mind. Yea, even upon rational principles, we might strongly argue that if the discoveries of revelation be cordially believed, and fully realized, they must have such effects (v-vi). Ryland writes that the extracts from her [Henrietta’s] diary “contain a modern sample of true scriptural experience” (xvi). A “Memoir” of Neale by Samuel Greatheed, the Independent minister at Newport Pagnell, appeared in the Evangelical Magazine in December 1802 and was reprinted, along with Ryland’s “Preface,” in Experimental Religion. Other information on Neale also appeared in the obituary for her sister, Mrs. Elizabeth Ann Chase, which appeared the in Evangelical Magazine in October 1798. Her two title pages to the right demonstrate her allegiance to her Baptist faith, since most of the sellers were Baptists themselves.

Neale began her diary when she was sixteen, during her time in Northampton under the ministry of Ryland, Jr, and continued her diary into the mid-1790s after her removal to Luton. Her diary exhibits the same intensity that Jonathan Edwards possessed in looking awry at the world: “I see so much beauty in Christ, that I long to be with him. Had I the wings of a dove, I would flee away. Ah, death, thou art my friend! Thou wilt unbarthis prison, and set my spirit free. Oh my Jesus, I wish to live, to honour thee on earth; but I long to die, to enjoy thee to the full!” (25). In 1789 Neale moved to Luton, where they joined her sister in worshiping at the local Baptist church. Her first publication, Amusement Hall; or An Easy Introduction to the Attainment of Useful Knowledge. By a Lady, appeared in 1794 (published in London and Ireland) in 1797 an American edition appeared. Her Sacred History in Familiar Dialogues was published in 1796 in three vols (see the review in the Evangelical Magazine for February 1796). In 1797 she published Britannus and Africus; or, an Attempt to Instruct the Untutored Mind in the Principles of Christianity; in a Course of Conversations, supposed to take place between the Companion of a Missionary and a Native of Africa (see the review in the Evangelical Magazine, May 1797) and a fourth volume titled A Companion to the Sacred History: Containing Select Hymns of the Historical Parts of Scripture, in two books (1797), the latter volume employing letters, not dialogues. During the summer of 1802, Henrietta contracted a fever while on vacation at Brighthelmstone. She returned to Luton on July 14th hoping to recover, but her fever proved fatal. She died on July 21, 1802. Greatheed closed his “Memoir” with these words: “May an example, which displayed so happy an union of humility and meekness, with the most lively zeal, and most active benevolence, obtain, as [it deserves, the practical regard of all our readers! And, especially, may female christians, in proportion to the ability with which they are endowed, follow her as she followed Christ, in unwearied exertions for the spiritual and the temporal benefit of fellow-mortals! (35-36).