Ashbridge, Elizabeth (1713–1755)

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Ashbridge, Elizabeth (1713–1755)

British autobiographer. Born in 1713 in Middlewich, Cheshire, England; died on May 16, 1755, in Ireland; daughter of Mary and Thomas Sampson; married three times, including Aaron Ashbridge in 1746.

Elizabeth Sampson was raised in a strict, Anglican home in England. While her father worked as a seaman, she was schooled by her mother. In her teens, she ran away to marry and was widowed within five months. Because her father had disowned her, she moved to Ireland where she found lodging with family relatives who were Quakers. Not yet 20, Ashbridge sought free passage to America in exchange for work. Arriving in 1732, she settled in Pennsylvania where she married a schoolteacher named Sullivan, with whom she enjoyed the theater and dancing. Elizabeth explored theology, including Catholicism and atheism, and finally settled on the Quaker Society of Friends. Fiercely opposed to her joining the Quakers, Sullivan responded by joining the army and was killed. Elizabeth remarried in 1746, to Aaron Ashbridge. Seven years later, called to preach, she returned to Ireland and died there in 1755.

Included in the Quaker doctrine is a desire to preserve all writing by members of the Society of Friends. Therefore, a bounty of autobiographies and biographies by Quaker women provide an otherwise scarce female perspective on those eras. Aaron Ashbridge transcribed Elizabeth's journals and notes; in 1774, almost 20 years after her death, he published Some Account of the Fore Part of the Life of Elizabeth Ashbridge.

Crista Martin , Boston, Massachusetts

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