Mary Anne Schimmelpenninck (1778-1856) was the daughter of Samuel Galton of Birmingham, a nominal Quaker and close friend of Joseph Priestley. In 1806 she married Lambert Schimmelpenninck, of Berkeley Square, a “Gentleman” living in Orchard Street according to Matthew’s Bristol Directory for 1794 (p. 72) and who later owned Schimmelpenninck [Schimmelpenning] and Co., Insurance brokers, in the Exchange (ibid.). Not long after her marriage Mary Anne converted to Methodism and in 1818 to the Moravian Church. During her years in Bristol she participated in numerous benevolent activities. Her important work on phrenology, Theory on the Classification of Beauty and Deformity, appeared in 1815, the year the novelist Mary Hays, living at that time in Bristol, joined the Prudent Man’s Friend Society, the same society to which Schimmelpenninck had become a founding member in 1812. The editor of Schimmelpenninck’s Autobiography noted that during her years in Bristol she and her husband “received, though always with simplicity, a good deal of society at their own house; literary people, family friends and connections, and others, attracted by the charm which Mrs. Schimmelpenninck’s wit and originality threw around her.”[i] Hays was probably one of those visitors, though it is unlikely she had her cranium examined by Schimmelpenninck, a practice that drew many visitors to her Bristol home.

Schimmelpenninck practiced phrenology based upon the four classical temperaments (choleric, sanguine, phlegmatic, and melancholic), receiving many requests “by her young friends to give them hints on the formation of character from their phrenological development; and if a judgment may be formed of Mrs. Schimmelpenninck’s accuracy from the frequency of these applications,” her biographer notes, “her success must have been great indeed.” (Hankin, Life, 462).Schimmelpenninck once examined Joseph Cottle’s niece, Sarah Saunders (1807-25) of Plymouth, who spent most of her short life living with Cottle and his sisters and attending their school in Bristol. Twelve-year-old Sarah visited Mrs. Schimmelpenninck at her home in Berkeley Square on April 3, 1819, writing home to her father that Schimmelpenninck was “a most extraordinary Lady indeed, both with regards to oddity, and intense study,” echoing Schimmelpenninck’s description earlier that day of Sarah’s head as “a most extraordinary head indeed!” Shortly before her death from consumption in 1825, Saunders corresponded with the famed Baptist essayist from Bristol, John Foster, Cottle’s close friend. Foster’s letters were later published by the Religious Tract Society as Nine Letters Addressed to Miss Sarah Saunders, during her last Illness, but Sarah’s letters were omitted, another example of a young woman’s voice not only silenced by death but also by the unfortunate editorial decisions of her family members. A brief memoir of her, however, did appear in Foster’s volume. A manuscript copy of her letter to her father can be found in the Cottle Collection, Bodleian Library, Eng. Misc. c. 36., fols. 18-20, alongside copies of a poem by Cottle about Sarah and two letters by Robert Southey to Cottle, February 12 and 25, 1825, both offering Cottle condolences after her death (fols. 24-25).

Other publications by Schimmelpennick include Narrative of a Tour taken in the Year 1667, to La Grande Chartreuse and Alet, by dom Claude Lancelot (London: J. and A. Arch, 1813); Proofs of Mistatements of Facts contained in an Attack upon the Fidelity and Veracity of the Author of the Tour to Alet (London, 1814); Theory on the Classification of Beauty and Deformity, and their Correspondence with Physiognomonic Expression (London: John and Arthur Arch, 1815); Narrative of the Demolition of the Monastery of Port Royal des Champs, including Memoirs of its Inhabitants (London: J. and A. Arch, 1816); Biblical Fragments (London: Printed for Ogle, Duncan, and Co., 1821); Asaph, or, The Herrnhutters: being a Rhythmical Sketch of the Principal Events, and most Remarkable Institutions in the Modern History of the Church of the Unitas Fratrum, commonly called Moravians (London: Printed for Ogle, Duncan, and Co., 1822); Is the System of Slavery Sanctioned or Condemned by Scripture? (London: J. and A. Arch, 1824); Psalms according to the Authorized Version, with Prefatory Titles, and Tabular Index of Scriptural References from the Port Royal Authors (London: 1825); Some Particulars relating to the Late Emperor Alexander, Previous to his Arrival, and during his Stay at Paris, in 1815 . . . translated from the French [by M.A. Schimmelpenninck] (London and Bristol, 1830); Select Memoirs of Port Royal To which are Appended Tour to Alet, Visit to Port Royal, Gift of an Abbess, Biographical Notices, &c. &c., taken from original documents (London: Hamilton, Adams, 1835).

For more on Schimmelpenninck, see Christiana C. Hankin, ed., The Life of Mary Anne Schimmelpenninck, 4th ed. (London: Longman, Green, Longman, and Roberts, 1860). For more on the other literary women in Bristol besides Hays, see Marie Mulvey-Roberts, ed., Literary Bristol: Writers and the City (Bristol: Redcliffe Press, 2015); Mulvey-Roberts, “Female Radicals,” 57-66; and Jane Duffus, ed., The Women Who Built Bristol, 2 vols (Bristol, UK: Tangent, 2019). Ann and Mary Bryan two Baptist booksellers in Bristol, can also be found on the Woman Booksellers section of this site; click here for Ann Bryan and here for Mary Bryan.