Steele, Reeves, and Attwater Collections, Angus and Bodleian Libraries, Oxford: 

Historical and Biographical Accounts of the Women Writers

Selections from the writings of many of the women discussed below can be found on this website in the Biographical Summaries, or under the various headings that divide the material: Hymns, Poetry, Letters, Diaries, Travel Diaries, Conversion Narratives, Prose Meditations/Reflections, Informal (Sermonic) Discourse, Printed Letters, Moral Fiction, Published Tracts, Biographical Accounts/Life Writings, and Women Printers and Booksellers.


Anne Cator Steele (1689-1760) was the second wife of William Steele III (1689-1769), and stepmother to Anne Steele and William Steele IV (1715-85) (Mary Steele’s father) and mother to Mary Steele Wakeford (1724-72). Anne Cator Steele maintained a diary from the 1720s until her death in 1760, but only three volumes, covering the years 1730-36, 1749-52, and 1753-60, remain extant, now residing in the Steele Collection. Her diary reveals much about the early life of Anne Steele, including her education, early poetic efforts, and frequent illnesses. Anne Cator Steele and her husband fully supported Anne Steele’s decision to remain unmarried and devote herself to her poetry. More importantly, Anne Cator Steele’s diary reveals her own spiritual travails as the wife of a minister and prosperous timber merchant in the West Country in the first half of the eighteenth century.[1] Her contemporary, Mrs. John Walrond (fl. 1699-1708), with the wife of the Revd John Walrond, who served for many years as a Presbyterian minister at Ottery St. Mary, Devon, before moving to the Bow (Presbyterian) meeting in Exeter in 1729, where he remained until his death in 1755. Little is known of his wife, but in the 1690s she began keeping a diary. Selections from 1699 to 1708 (as well as some from the 1730s), along with some spiritual meditations, were transcribed (in an unknown hand) into a bound volume, now belonging to the Steele Collection, also containing the poetry and meditations of Hannah Towgood Wakeford (1725-46).[2]  Hannah Towgood was the daughter of Stephen Towgood (d. 1777), minister to the James’s Meeting (Presbyterian) in Exeter, 1743-77. She was the first wife of Joseph Wakeford (1719-85), a linen draper and banker from Andover and a leading member of the Independent congregation in Andover. They married on 15 July 1745 at Clyst Honiton, Devon; their only daughter, also named Hannah, was christened at Andover’s East Street Independent Chapel on 26 July 1746. The birth of the child, unfortunately, brought on the premature death of her mother at the age of twenty-one.  Hannah Wakeford left behind a significant collection of poems, letters, and prose meditations, some published in The Christian’s Magazine in the 1760s, and others left in manuscripts, copied (in an unknown hand) into the bound volume (mentioned above) now residing in the Steele Collection. 

      Anne Steele (1717-78), the original center of the Steele literary circle, was the daughter of William Steele III and his first wife, Anne Froude (1684-1720).  She published as ‘Theodosia’, but within the Steele circle her literary appellation, derived from the classical pastoral tradition, was ‘Silviana’. Her brother, William, was known as ‘Philander’, and her half-sister, Mary, was ‘Amira’. Anne’s mother died when she was three, but her stepmother, Anne Cator Steele, treated her as her own daughter. Anne never married, devoting herself instead to her family and her poetry. Poems on Subjects Chiefly Devotional was published in London in 1760, and reprinted in Bristol in 1780 in a posthumous edition of the same title, which also added a third volume, Miscellaneous Pieces, in Verse and Prose, edited by Caleb Evans (1737-91), Baptist minister and educator at Bristol and a close friend of the Steeles. Besides these volumes, numerous hymns by Anne Steele appeared in nearly every hymnal published in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. A thin volume, Verses for Children, was published posthumously in three editions in 1788, 1803, and 1806. This was followed by an American edition of the three-volume Bristol edition, The Works of Mrs. Anne Steele … comprehending Poems on Subjects chiefly Devotional: and Miscellaneous Pieces in Prose and Verse: heretofore published under the title of Theodosia, 2 vols (1808); a selection of her works also appeared in Daniel Sedgwick’s Hymns, Psalms, and Poems, by Anne Steele (1863; reprinted in 1882). Louis F. Benson contended in 1915 that Anne Steele was the ‘foremost Baptist hymn-writer’.  J. R. Watson has gone even further, arguing that Anne Steele is the first major woman hymn writer of any denomination. As Richard Arnold notes, ‘Admittedly, many of [Steele’s] hymns have by now fallen out of use, but the fact remains that for more than a hundred years from the time of their first appearance they ranked with those of the three or four most widely read hymn-writers’.[3] Sedgwick’s 1863 edition was prefaced by a biographical sketch of Anne Steele composed by John Sheppard (1785-1879) of Frome, a Baptist writer and friend of the Steele family. J. R. Broome reprinted this edition in 1967, adding new information on Steele’s life in his Introduction, material later developed into his important biography of Steele, A Bruised Reed (2007).[4]

      Mary Steele Wakeford (‘Amira’) (1724-72) was the natural daughter of William Steele III and his second wife, Anne Cator Steele, and thus half-sister to William Steele IV and Anne Steele. In 1749 she became the second wife of Joseph Wakeford (d. 1785), bearing four children (one died in infancy, the other at 13).  Her poetry sharply contrasts the more polished poetry of her sister, often exhibiting a comic, even satiric, bent, laced with a fair amount of self-deprecation. Like her mother, Mary Wakeford also kept a diary, but only a few entries copied by one of her descendants remain extant. She contributed to some poetic dialogues and competitions with her sister and some of their literary friends. A collection of thirteen poems, composed between 1748 and 1769, can be found in a small MS volume titled ‘Poems on Devotional Subjects’, along with eight other occasional poems on loose folia, can be found in the Steele Collection.[5]

      Mary Steele (1753-1813), known within the family circle as ‘Polly’ and among the other members of the Steele circle as ‘Silvia’ or ‘Sylvia’, was the only daughter of William Steele IV (1715-85) and his first wife, Mary Bullock Steele (‘Delia’) (1713-62). Mary Steele was primarily educated by her aunt, Anne Steele, before completing her education at Mrs. King’s nonconformist boarding school for young girls in London. After the death of her father in 1785, she remained with her stepmother and her two half-sisters in Broughton House, becoming head of the household after her stepmother’s death in 1791. Her marriage in 1797 to the Baptist minister Thomas Dunscombe (1748-1811) was not a happy one, but she continued to write poetry, a process she began in earnest as a thirteen-year-old in 1766. Of her nearly 150 poems, only five appeared in print during her lifetime, including her longest poem, Danebury: or The Power of Friendship, a Tale (1779), as well as one prose piece, none with her named attached. Among her poems are tributes to two of the leading female poets of the 1780s, Helen Maria Williams and Anna Seward. Her poetry and letters provide extensive details about her relationships with various family members, especially her father, sisters, and her favorite niece, Mary Steele Tomkins; her fellow poets Mary Scott and Elizabeth Coltman; her close relation, Jane Attwater; and her friend, Caleb Evans of Bristol. Steele writes in nearly every poetic genre available to poets in the eighteenth century, including the ode, sonnet, elegy, occasional verse, verse narrative, historical verse romance, and poems on the themes of retirement, nature, friendship, and religious meditation.[6]

      Mary Scott (1751-1793), Mary Steele’s close friend, and Anne Steele are the only two women writers in these volumes to receive at least a modicum of critical attention.[7] Scott (‘Mira’ or ‘Myra’) was the daughter of John Scott (1721-74), a linen merchant in Milborne Port, Somerset. Though raised a Calvinist in the local Independent chapel, she would later become a Unitarian, like her brother, the Revd Russell Scott of Portsmouth. After the death of her father in 1774, she continued to care for her mother, despite her engagement in May 1777 to John Taylor (1752-1817), tutor at the nonconformist academy at Daventry. Eight months after her mother’s death in October 1787, Mary Scott and John Taylor were married. They had two children, Mary Ann (1789-1875) and John Edward (1791-1844), the latter the founder of the Manchester Guardian in 1821. After Taylor’s marriage to Scott, he served as minister to the Presbyterian congregation at Ilminster before converting to Quakerism in 1790. He eventually became a schoolmaster in Bristol, where Mary Scott Taylor died in June 1793 due to complications from pregnancy.  Scott is best known today for her two long poems, The Female Advocate (1774), a poem celebrating the achievements of women writers from the sixteenth through the eighteenth century, and Messiah (1788), a poem chronicling the life and death of Christ.  Three poems by Scott belong to the Steele Collection; a few others appeared in a memoir of her son in 1844 and in an essay by Herbert McLachlan in 1950. A collection of her letters appeared in Isabella and Catherine Scott’s A Family Biography (London, 1908), though the originals, along with numerous manuscript poems, are no longer extant.[8]

      Elizabeth Coltman (1761-1838) was the youngest daughter of John (c.1715-c.1800) and Bridget Coltman (1716-1802) of the Newarke, Leicester. She had two sisters: Anne (1753-88), who attended boarding school in Hackney at the same time as Mary Steele, and Mary (1757-1834), who married John Grew of Birmingham and emigrated to America in 1795. Coltman never married, but lived in comfortable affluence all her life, traveling on many occasions to see Mary Steele at Broughton, taking excursions to the Lake District (of which she published an account in the Monthly Magazine), and visiting other friends in various places, including London. She met Mary Scott, the Attwater sisters, and Mary Steele’s younger half-sisters and Wakeford cousins during her visits to Broughton, and joined with them in writing poetry. She also introduced Mary Steele to her own coterie of women writers and socialites in Leicester, including Susanna Watts (1768-1842), Elizabeth Heyrick (1769-1831), Catherine Hutton (1756-1846), and Mary Reid (1769-1839).[9] Two prose pieces by Coltman appeared anonymously in the Monthly Magazine, one of which included three poems; her other publications were moral tracts designed for young people, some of which also contained poetry. Elizabeth Coltman’s publications have been confused with the writings of her Leicester friend and abolitionist writer, Elizabeth Heyrick. Coltman authored at least five works, either anonymously or with title pages designated ‘E**** C******’. These works include Plain Tales: Chiefly intended for the Use of Charity Schools (1799; 1801; 1806); The Warning. Recommended to the Serious Attention of all Christians, and Lovers of their Country (c. 1805, 1807); Instructive Hints, in Easy Lessons for Children (1806); Familiar Letters Addressed to Children and Young Persons of the Middle Ranks (1811); andThe History of Jenny Hickling: An Authentic Narrative (numerous editions after 1815).[10]

      Marianna Attwater (1749?-1832) (‘Maria’) was the daughter of Anna Gay (1710-84) and Thomas Attwater (1691-1767) of Bodenham. Her grandmother, Jane Cator Gay (1680-1756) was the sister of the diarist Anne Cator Steele (see above). Thomas Attwater died in 1767, leaving Anna Attwater in Bodenham with Jane and Marianna. Caroline Attwater (‘Dorinda’ as she was known in the Steele circle), their older sister, had married Thomas Whitaker (1735-84) of Bratton on 10 January 1765. They would move to Bratton, where they became one of the leading families in the local Baptist church. Thomas’s relation, Jeffrey Whitaker (1703-75), had operated a school for boys in Bratton for almost forty years.[11] Caroline and Thomas Whitaker had six children: Philip (1766-1847), who married Anne Andrews in 1798; Anna (1768-79) and Mary (1773-1800); Thomas (1776-1857), who married Sophia Williams; and Anna Jane (1784-1838), who never married, living with her mother at Bratton. Caroline lived the final forty years of her life as a widow.  Her husband had been a prosperous farmer, and his two sons (and at least one grandson and great-grandson) would also become large landowners and farmers in the Bratton area.[12] After her marriage to Philip Whitaker in 1798, Anne Andrews Whitaker (1774-1865) found in Caroline Whitaker a second mother to replace the one she had lost in 1791, and remained close to her mother-in-law until the latter’s death in 1824. Marianna Attwater married George Head (d. 1785), a clothier from Bradford-on-Avon, in January 1773, and apparently did not write any poetry after her marriage. Prior to her marriage, she was very active within the Steele circle, visiting often at Broughton and writing all her extant poetry between 1768 and 1770, poetry that circulated throughout the Steele circle. She was particularly close to Anne and Mary Steele, but was also known to Mary Scott and Elizabeth Coltman. None of her twenty poems appeared in print in her lifetime, but her work is of high quality, employing both sacred and secular themes, expressed at times with great seriousness and at other times with a sharp wit.[13] Marianna’s younger sister, Jane (‘Myrtilla’) (1753-1843), Mary Steele’s close friend and relation, married Joseph Blatch (d. 1840) of Bratton in 1790. Jane Attwater was primarily a diarist, beginning her entries in 1767 and continuing them into the early 1830s. She did write some poetry, however, most of it embedded within her diary (they appear like poetic effusions); other occasional poems were scattered among her extensive manuscript collection. Attwater’s long life spans the entirety of the literary activity of the women in the Steele and Saffery circles.  She is present, along with Mary Steele, Mary Wakeford, and Mary Scott, in the original coterie surrounding Anne Steele; she continues in the next group that centers upon Mary Steele, Mary Scott, and Elizabeth Coltman of Leicester; and between 1790 and her death in 1843, Attwater (now Mrs. Blatch) was intimately involved with Anne Whitaker and her sister, Maria Grace Saffery (1772-1858), the latter having married Attwater’s former pastor in Salisbury, John Saffery (1763-1825), in 1799. As a member of this final coterie, Jane Attwater Blatch witnessed the uniting of the Attwater-Whitaker-Andrews families, the final link in this coterie of West Country women writers. Her diary chronicles her spiritual doubts and victories, her difficulty accepting her own ‘election’, her unusual fifteen-year courtship with Joseph Blatch, and the closeness they enjoyed as a married couple for fifty years. She also writes about numerous events in the lives of her family members and those of the Steele family, including an agonizing account of the final months in the life of her only child, Anna, who died of consumption in 1809.  The diaries of Jane Attwater and Anne Cator Steele are the most complete extant examples of life writing among nonconformist women in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.[14]

      Sophia Williams (1790-1891) was Caroline Whitaker’s daughter-in-law and, like her mother-in-law and aunt Jane, she was also a diarist. She was born into a staunch Baptist family in Bratton. Her father, Thomas Williams (d. 1817), was a deacon in the same church attended by the Whitakers and Blatches. In the 1780s he had joined with Revd Cooper, the local Baptist minister, to continue Jeffrey Whitaker’s school for boys; the school burned in 1789, however, the year before Sophia’s birth. Her diary is clearly the work of a well-educated young woman, suggesting that she, like many of the other women in this series, attended a boarding school for nonconformist girls, although it is possible she was educated by her father, himself a teacher. Sophia had at least one brother, Henry, who was living in the Islington area of London c. 1818. Even though he was not a believer, after her father’s death in 1817 she and her mother would live with him for several months. In accordance with her doctor’s orders, she returned to Bratton in July 1818, and in 1824 (most likely after her mother’s death), she married Thomas Whitaker (1776-1857), Philip Whitaker’s younger brother and the youngest son of Caroline Attwater Whitaker.  Thomas and Sophia moved into a house called Yew Trees, on the Lower Road of Bratton, not far from Philip Whitaker and his family at Bratton Farm or her close friend Anna Jane Whitaker (1784-1838), Philip’s youngest sister. Thomas and Sophia did not have children, and when he died in 1857, Sophia invited Joshua Whitaker’s son, John Saffery Whitaker (1840-1915), and his new wife Mary Brinkworth to live with her at Yew Trees. Their daughter, Jane Saffery Whitaker, collected most of the material that now comprises the Reeves Collections in the Angus and Bodleian libraries, Oxford, as well as the Attwater Papers and the Saffery/Whitaker Papers, Angus Library, Oxford.[15]

      Two lesser women also figured in Steele/Saffery circles, though in a more tangential way. Elizabeth Saffery (1762-98) was the daughter of the Revd Joseph Horsey (1737-1802), Particular Baptist minister at Portsea, 1773-1802. She married John Saffery, at that time also living at Portsea, and in 1790 they moved to Salisbury where he commenced his pastoral duties at the Baptist meeting in Brown Street, the same church Jane Attwater attended. Elizabeth died after a prolonged illness in May 1798. Included among the manuscripts in the Angus Library and the Bodleian is her diary from the final year of her life, as well as several letters addressed to her by Anne and Maria Andrews prior to their marriages.[16] Frances Barrett Ryland (b. 1761) was raised in a Baptist family in London. Her father, William Barrett, died in 1774, after which it appears she may have spent time teaching in a female academy while attending the Baptist congregation in Carter Lane, at that time led by John Rippon. At some point in the mid-1780s she removed to Northampton to teach in the female academy there conducted by Mrs. Trinder, a member of the Baptist church in College Lane. Trinder’s school had existed since 1765 in collaboration with the male academy operated by John Collett Ryland (1723-92) during his ministry as pastor at College Lane. J. C. Ryland closed his academy after the spring term in 1785, resigned from the church that November, and departed for Enfield, just outside of London, where he and his chief assistant (and son-in-law), John Clarke, had already established a new academy. Clarke’s son, John Cowden Clarke, would later befriend a young student at the academy, the future poet John Keats. John Ryland, Jr. (1753-1825) replaced his father as pastor at Northampton, remaining there until December 1793, when he removed to Bristol to become pastor of the two congregations (Baptist and Independent) at Broadmead, succeeding Caleb Evans (1737-91), the close friend and correspondent of Anne and Mary Steele.

During her time at Mrs. Trinder’s, Barrett became close friends with the first wife of John Ryland, Jr. Ryland had married the former Elizabeth Tyler, daughter of Robert Tyler of Banbury, on 12 January 1780; she died of consumption on 23 January 1787, leaving him with a young son, John Tyler Ryland, born 9 December 1786. Frances Barrett records in her diary that she attended to Mrs. Ryland on her deathbed and later including in her diary memorials on the anniversary of her friend’s death. Barrett married Ryland on 18 June 1789. About a year after her marriage and shortly after the death of her friend Mrs Trinder, Frances Ryland decided to continue Trinder’s school in her own house. She disbanded the enterprise in 1793 upon her removal to Bristol, and no record exists that she ever operated a school again.  Her first three pregnancies ended in either a miscarriage or the death of the infant. Nevertheless, between 1797 and 1803 she gave birth to one son and three daughters. Jonathan Edwards Ryland (1797-1866) would become a leading writer among the Baptists in the early to mid-nineteenth century, best known today for his biographies of his father as well as the Baptist essayist John Foster.[17] The Rylands were friends of John Newton, evangelical vicar at St Mary Woolnoth, London, and the biblical commentator Thomas Scott and his wife, the former Mary Egerton, all evangelical Anglicans. The Rylands were also close friends of John and Maria Saffery and her sister, Anne Whitaker.[18]

      Two other women writers, both evangelical Anglicans and close friends of some of the women in the Steele and Saffery circles, deserve attention as well. The previously mentioned Mary Egerton Scott (c. 1765-1840) served for a time as a governess/teacher in the school operated by Mrs Andrews at Isleworth in the late 1780s, where she contributed significantly to the education of both Maria Grace and her sister Anne. She became the second wife of the biblical commentator Thomas Scott in November 1790.[19] The marriage was a clear breach of the generally accepted time of bereavement for a widow or widower, and many in London, both friends and strangers to Scott, thought the action highly inappropriate. After their marriage, the Scotts continued as friends and spiritual advisors to the Andrews sisters, who by 1793 were now moving in Baptist circles both in Salisbury and London (represented by the Safferys in Salisbury and the family of Saffery’s brother-in-law, John Shoveller, who lived in London, 1791-5). Though membership and baptism into the Baptist church in Brown Street was not something the Scotts found necessary or advisable, they did not deem it a sufficient cause for any diminution in their friendship with Maria and Anne. Communications between Mary Egerton Scott and the Andrews sisters continued long after their marriages to Philip Whitaker and John Saffery in the late 1790s; in fact, during the late 1820s, one of Anne Whitaker’s sons attended a boarding school operated by Thomas Scott, Jr., at Gawcott.[20]

In 1825, four years after the death of Thomas Scott, Mary Scott remarried, this time to a Mr Dawes, an event that apparently did not sit well with John Scott and his siblings. Relations between Mary Scott and her stepson John, now a minister and schoolmaster at Hull, may have been poor by the time of Thomas Scott’s death in 1821. The next year, in his biography of his father, the younger Scott included at the end of his volume an advertisement of some works still in print by his father, and a listing of the five printed works by Mary Scott, identified only as ‘Written by Mrs. *****,’ her identity still hidden from her titles after more than two decades. Among her writings are The Path to Happiness Explored and Illustrated (London, 1796 and 1797; American edition, 1798); The Happiness of having God for a Friend in Time of Trial, or the History of Mrs. Wilkins. Addressed to Pregnant Women (London, 1797); The Advantages of Early Piety: or the History of Sarah Thompson and Lydia Green (1806);Plain Truth for Plain People; or, Dialogues between Joseph Chisel and Thomas Wood (1807); and finally, Memoir of Elizabeth Moulder, Who Resided Nearly Thirty Years in the Family of the Rev. Thomas Scott (1822). At least two of these titles were still in print by the Religious Tract Society throughout the 1820s.[21]

      Jane Houseman (1768-1837), the former Jane Adams of Langton, Leicestershire, would, like Mary Egerton Scott, Maria Andrews Saffery, and Frances Barrett Ryland, become the second wife of a minister, in her case the Revd Robert Houseman (1759-1838). Houseman met his first wife, a Miss Audley, while a student at St. John’s College, Cambridge, in 1783 (he took his B.A. in 1784). Though the Audleys were ardent nonconformists (Independents), they were, like Houseman, also committed evangelical Calvinists. Houseman and Miss Audley were married in January 1785; their marriage was short-lived, however, for she died later that year while giving birth to a son. At that time, Houseman was ministering in a parish church in Lancaster, and on two occasions in 1785 he and his wife paid visits to Elizabeth Coltman at Leicester. Mrs. Houseman’s brother, John Audley (1750-1827), a prosperous woolstapler (and later solicitor) in Cambridge, eventually proposed to Coltman, but she rejected him. Audley, however, maintained his connections with the Houseman’s thereafter; in fact, Houseman’s only son by his first wife (and Audley’s nephew) would later be hung for committing forgery against Audley in 1815. Jane Adams Houseman’s great-grandson was the poet/scholar A. E. Housman (1859-1936).[22]

      After the death of his first wife, Houseman spent several years serving various parishes in and near Langton, Leicestershire, where he met and eventually married Adams in September 1788. She had received an exceptional education under the private tutelage of Thomas Robinson, the popular evangelical clergyman in Leicester and friend of Robert Hall. Her father was Anglican, but for many years he worshiped with the Methodists at Ashby-d-la-Zouch, where the Adamses lived. Her mother became a follower of George Whitefield, an allegiance that caused her father to disinherit her. Fortunately, she was taken in by the Countess of Huntingdon and became her godchild. As Houseman ministered at Langton between 1787 and 1795, he continued his friendship with Coltman, a friendship that now included a close relationship between her and Jane Houseman. In 1796 Houseman returned to Lancaster as rector at St. Anne’s Church, a position he retained until 1836. His biographer noted that his wife ‘was attentive and affectionate; as a mother, full of the tenderest and most enduring attachment; as a friend, earnest, steady, and disinterested. A sincerer, more benevolent, more truly humble and fervent Christian, never breathed. Her life was a uniform course of practical piety, ever active, ever self-denying....’[23] He was obviously familiar with her writings as well, noting that she had ‘a quick imagination, great candour of heart and mind, uncompromising honesty of purpose, and determined will to execute it’, accompanied by ‘a more than ordinary skill in discriminating minute and subtle differences of character’.[24] Both Houseman and her friend, Elizabeth Coltman, were deeply religious, employing their energy and creativity to educate and evangelize, both young and old, among the working class of England and America and, through the efforts of the missionary societies, India and the Caribbean.  Both women may well have been involved with reform politics in the 1790s, but by 1815 Houseman, at least, had become decidedly non-partisan in her politics. Both women, however, were bent on directing their energies toward solving social ills and effecting moral and spiritual transformation, not political change. Her religious tract, Religion without Learning: or, The History of Susan Ward, appeared sometime around 1817, about the same time as Coltman’s first version of Jenny Hickling.[25]Whether the two women challenged each other to write a tract for the Religious Tract Society is not known, but their tracts would become two of the most popular RTS tracts during the nineteenth century. 

Timothy Whelan


[1]  Selections from the diary of Anne Cator Steele, as well as her surviving letters, poems and short prose pieces, can be found in Whelan, NWW, vol. 8, pp. 15-74.

[2]  For selections from the spiritual diary and meditations of Mrs. Walrond, see Whelan, NWW, vol. 8, pp. 1-14; for the poetry, prose meditation, and some published letters of Hannah Towgood Wakeford, see NWW, vol. 4, pp.  107-16; also vol. 8, pp. 75-104.

[3]  See Louis Benson, The English Hymn: Its Development and Use in Worship (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1915), p. 214; J. R. Watson, The English Hymn: A Critical and Historical Study  (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1977), p. 191; Richard Arnold, ‘A ‘Veil of Interposing Night’: The Hymns of Anne Steele (1717-78)’, Christian Scholar’s Review 18 (1989), p. 373.

[4]  For the complete poetry, prose, and correspondence of Anne Steele found in the 1760 and 1780 editions, as well as Anne Steele’s impressive body of unpublished poetry and prose, see NWW, Volumes 1 and 2, edited by Julia B. Griffin.

[5]  For the complete poetry of Mary Steele Wakeford, see NWW, vol. 4, pp. 117-50; for her correspondence with Anne Steele, see NWW, vol. 2, pp. 273-4, 282-3, 289-311, 314-5, 329-31.

[6]  For the complete poetry, prose, and correspondence of Mary Steele, see NWW, Volume 3.

[7]  Aside from entries in various encyclopedias of women writers compiled since the late 1980s, Mary Scott is the subject of two essays by Moira Ferguson: ‘‘The Cause of My Sex’: Mary Scott and the Female Literary Tradition’, Huntington Library Quarterly 50 (1987), pp. 359-77; and ‘Mary Scott: Historicizing Women, (En)Gendering Cultural History’, in Ferguson, Eighteenth-Century Women Poets, pp. 27-43; see also Timothy Whelan, ‘When kindred Souls unite’: The Literary Friendship of Mary Steele and Mary Scott, 1766-1793,’ Journal of Women’s Studies 43 (2014), pp. 619-40; and idem, ‘Mary Scott, Sarah Froud, and the Steele Literary Circle: A Revealing Annotation to The Female Advocate,Huntington Library Quarterly 77 (2014), pp. 435-52.

[8]  For the poetry and correspondence of Mary Scott, see NWW, vol. 4, pp. 1-106, 259-309.

[9]  Reid and her brother, Dr. John Reid (1773-1822), were friends of some prominent London Unitarians, including the Barbaulds, Aikins, and Crabb Robinson. For more on Reid, see Reid 53-55; some correspondence concerning Reid can be found in the Coltman Papers 15D57/63, 15D57/226; a lengthy description of her can also be found in Coltman, ‘Journal’ 15D67/449; for her place within the Steele Circle and a London circle involving her friends the novelist Mary Hays and the poet/writer Elizabeth Benger, see Whelan, Other British Voices, pp. 161-70; for Mary Steele’s poem to Reid, see NWW, vol. 3, p. 162.

[10] For Coltman’s poetry and prose writings, see NWW, vol. 4, pp. 215-34, 239-57; vol. 7, pp. 14-22, 275-326.

[11] For the story of Jeffrey Whitaker, see Marjorie Reeves, The Diaries of Jeffrey Whitaker Schoolmaster of Bratton (Trowbridge: Wiltshire Record Society, 1989). 

[12] Philip’s son, Joshua, would be a very successful farmer in Bratton. His son, John Saffery Whitaker, would continue the Whitaker farming tradition until his death in 1915. See Reeves, Sheep Bell, pp. 62-5. 

[13] For the poetry of Marianna Attwater, see NWW, vol. 4, pp. 151-90.

[14] For the poetry of Jane Attwater, see NWW, vol. 4, pp. 191-213; for selections from her correspondence, prose writings, and diary, see NWW, vol. 8, pp. 105-306. A portion of Caroline Attwater Whitaker’s diary from 1820 can also be found in NWW, vol. 8, pp. 483-92.

[15] For the diary of Sophia Williams, 1812-17, see NWW, vol. 8, pp. 437-81. For more on the Whitaker family in Bratton, including considerable material on the children of Caroline Whitaker, Anne Whitaker, and Jane Saffery Whitaker, especially concerning their education and the books they owned, see Reeves, Sheep Bell; idem, Pursing the Muses.  For more on Thomas and Sophia Whitaker, see Reeves, Sheep Bell, pp. 36-41, 92. 

[16] For the diary of Elizabeth Horsey Saffery, see NWW, vol. 8, pp. 399-436.

[17] See J. E. Ryland, The Life and Correspondence of John Foster (London: Jackson and Walford, 1848); Pastoral Memorials.

[18] Most of what we know of Frances Ryland comes from her diary. Nothing is said of her in James Culross’s The Three Rylands (1897), and, much like the fate of Mary Egerton Scott at the hands of her stepson, J. E. Ryland makes only a brief mention of his mother in his ‘Memoir’ of his father in Pastoral Memorials (1828). He notes her place of origin and identifies her father, then adds that ‘after having for nearly six and thirty years been permitted to share his joys and sorrows’, the death of John Ryland in 1825 forced her ‘to make a surrender of her chief earthly felicity’, but not without expressing her ‘fervent gratitude to heaven for so long and inestimable an union’. At present, nothing is known of Frances Ryland’s life after her husband’s death or when she died. J. E. Ryland’s ‘Memoir’ closes with a poem in tribute of his father composed by his father’s friend, Joseph Cottle (1770-1853), and relation of Anne and Mary Steele. See J. E. Ryland, Pastoral Memorials, vol. 2, p. 42, 60-1; for the diary of Frances Barrett Ryland, see NWW, vol. 8, pp. 307-97.

[19] The ODNB incorrectly gives the date as ‘March or early April 1791’. 

[20] See NWW, volume 6, letters 24, 215.

[21] For an introduction to Mary Egerton Scott, as well as the complete texts of The Path to Happiness, The History of Mrs. Wilkins, Plain Truth for Plain People, see NWW, vol. 7, pp. 7-14, 207-74.  

[22] One daughter of the Housemans survived and married John Rylands, Esq., of Warrington. For more on the Housemans, see Robert Fletcher Houseman, The Life and Remains of the Revd Robert Houseman, A.B. (New York: Robert Carter, 1846), pp. 35-9; obituary for John Audley,Congregational Magazine, 10, New Series (August 1827), pp. 401-09; Audley Papers, 132/B.73, 74, 76, Cambridgeshire Record Office, Cambridge; Thomas Stamford Raffles, ed., Memoirs of the Life and Ministry of the Rev. Thomas Raffles, D.D., LL.D. (London: Jackson, Walford, and Hodder, 1864), pp. 133-34.

[23] Houseman, Life and Remains, p. 68.

[24] Houseman, Life and Remains, p. 68.

[25] For the complete text of Susan Ward, see NWW, vol. 7, pp. 327-37.