Frances Barrett Ryland was the second wife of John Ryland, Jr., (1753-1825), pastor of the two congregations (Baptist and Independent) at Broadmead in Bristol, 1793-1825. He was successor to Caleb Evans (1737-91), close friend and correspondent of Anne and Mary Steele. Frances Ryland was originally from London, attending the Baptist congregation in Carter Lane during the ministries of John Gill and John Rippon. She married Ryland in 1789 and removed to Northampton. Her diary, The Spiritual Journal of Mrs. Ryland (2nd wife of Dr. John Ryland) written from 1789 to 1806, belongs to the collections of the library at Bristol Baptist College. Her son, Jonathan Edwards Ryland (1798-1866), would become a significant literary figure among the Baptists in the early to mid-nineteenth century. Mrs. Ryland was a friend of John Newton, the famous Evangelical divine; she also knew Hannah More and Joseph Cottle of Bristol, as well as Mary Steele of Broughton and Maria Saffery of Salisbury.

Frances Ryland’s diary begins just prior to her marriage in 1789 and continues regularly thereafter for seventeen years. It includes an account of her and her husband’s difficult decision to move from Northampton to Bristol in 1792-93, a move that occurred shortly after the death of their first child. Her diary records the death of another child in 1795, as well as the births of her three children between 1797 and 1800. She also records each time her husband travels from home to preach in various churches, and, of course, an ongoing record of her spiritual joys and tribulations. Her complete diary can be found in Whelan, Nonconformist Women Writers, 1720-1840, vol. 8; for some selections from her diary, click here.

Image Lower Right: Page from the diary of Frances Ryland (courtesy Bristol Baptist College Library, Bristol).