Elizabeth (Gurney) Fry
J. A. Cannon
Philanthropist, prison reformer; b. Norwich, England, May 21, 1780; d. Ramsgate, England, Oct. 12,
1845. Her father, John Gurney, a Quaker merchant and banker, provided her with no formal education. Although she was at first attracted to deism, she was converted to primitive Quakerism by an American, William Savery, and by Joseph Fry, whom she married in 1800, and by whom she had 11 children. Influenced by the deaths of her father and father-in-law, Fry entered the Quaker ministry in 1811. Her work at Newgate prison, which was prompted by her two Quaker brothers-in-law and facilitated by her husband's business reputation, began in 1817. She developed a program of prison reform that included education, paid employment, association by day, solitude by night, rewards, and women warders for female prisoners. While promoting her reforms through extensive travels, correspondence, and published reports, she found time for other philanthropic activities, the most important of which was founding an order of nursing sisters. Two of her daughters edited her Memoirs, with Extracts from Her Journals and Letters.
See Also: friends, religious society of.
Bibliography: j. whitney, Elizabeth Fry (Boston 1936). j. kent, Elizabeth Fry (New York 1963).
[e. e. beauregard]