Elizabeth Scott was born at Hitchin. Her father, the Independent minister Thomas Scott (1679/80-1746), described her as a committed Christian poet. Her brothers, Joseph Nicoll (1702/03-69) and Thomas Scott (1705-75), also became Independent ministers, but she and Thomas were the primary hymn writers in the family. In January 1752, Elizabeth Scott married Elisha Williams in Norwich. Williams was a Congregationalist minister, legislator, and army chaplain who had previously served as Rector of Yale College from 1726 to 1739 as well as minister of the church at Wethersfield, Connecticut. After their marriage, Williams returned to Wethersfield with his new wife, where he died in 1755. In 1761 Elizabeth remarried, this time to William Smith of New York. Upon his demise in 1761, she returned to Wethersfield, where she died in 1776. She wrote most of her hymns prior to her removal to America, many of which have survived in a few manuscript collections of her hymns. Her first published hymn appeared in 1763 in The Christian's Magazine. In 1769, more than a dozen of her hymns were included in A Collection of Hymns Adapted to Public Worship, compiled by two Baptist ministers, John Ash of Pershore and Caleb Evans of Bristol. Another twenty or so hymns were published posthumously in J. A. Dobell’s A New Selection of Nearly Eight Hundred Evangelical Hymns in 1806. A large collection of her hymns and occasional poems and surviving correspondence can be found among the manuscript collections at the Beinecke Library, Yale University.

For the texts of two letters from Elizabeth to her father, one dated 4 August 1738 and the other from 1740 (the dedicatory epistle to her manuscript volume of hymns and poems), click here.


  • Ash, John, Caleb Evans, and Isaac James. A Collection of Hymns Adapted to Public Worship. Bristol: W. Pine, 1769. The original edition nineteen of Scott’s hymns were published in. This is available in print or on ebook through several libraries locatable on Worldcat.

  • Lee, Sidney, ed. Dictionary of National Biography. Vol. 51. New York: Macmillan, 1897.

  • Dobell, J. A New Selection of Nearly Eight Hundred Evangelical Hymns, from More Than Two Hundred Authors in England, Scotland, Ireland, & America: Including a Great Number of Originals ; Alphabetically Arranged, in Three Parts: 1. Attributes of God, 2. Offices and Titles of Christ, 3. General Subjects, Being a Complete Supplement to Dr. Watts's Psalms and Hymns. London: Printed for the author by J.G. Bernard, 1812. The second edition of the volume in which twenty of Scott’s hymns were published after her death available in print or on ebook through various libraries locatable by Worldcat.

  • Julian, John. A Dictionary of Hymnology: Setting Forth the Origin and History of Christian Hymns of All Ages and Nations. Revised ed. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1892. This volume contains an entry on Elizabeth Scott briefly detailing her life and writing career.

  • Scott, Elizabeth. Hymns and Poems. 1740. A manuscript containing some ninety hymns and poems, as well as a letter to her father, resides in the Beinecke Library, Yale University, Gen. MSS. 635. Other correspondence by and to Elizabeth Scott Williams Smith and other members of her extended family can be found in the Williams Family Papers, Beinecke Library, Yale University, Gen. MSS. 1180, as well as Gen. MSS. MISC. Box 65 and Box 70.