Tough, Frances Ann 'Annie' (nee Moore) 1854-1930

Our Lady Trustee - A Modern Chapter in Connexional History

Transcription of Sketch in the Christian Messenger by Robert Andrews

Our Church has been pre-eminently blessed with honourable women not a few. Possibly we hear more of the brotherhood than the sisterhood – the hero than the heroine. But could the epistles of many ministers be perused the apostolic injunction would still be in evidence, “help those women which laboured with me in the Gospel.” Martha is still active in hospitality. Lydia pleading with gracious constraint. Priscilla, a revealer to the budding minister of the more perfect way. Phoebe, a sister and succourer of many. The ministerial office in the early years of the Connexion was often efficiently filled by converted women, and in not a few stations to-day our sisters still hold forth the word of life. A devoted sisterhood is the strength of many of our societies – a financial strain is overcome as they ply their needles – the missionary revenue is made by their zeal; they are the life of the Schools, Bands of Hope, and Endeavour Societies, and many an official position would go by default but for a brave sister who stands in the breach. The ministry of women counts for much and will count yet more in the extension of Christ’s kingdom.

It is, possibly, unique in the history of our Church to find that a trustee of one of our chapels is a lady. The ministers, however, who are appointed to superintend Maidenhead Station soon find that one of the most active trustees of the village chapel of Eton Wick is of the fair sex. Persons who would fix the locale of this little sanctuary may have pleasure in learning it is within sound of the bells of Eton School, and that Windsor Castle is the most striking feature of the surrounding landscape. The question may be asked, “How came a lady to be a trustee?” Hereon hangs the story of a life these lines are to unfold.

It was Sunday afternoon in the year 1863, when two little girls, Annie and Emma Moore, the former ten years of age and her sister still younger, were taking a walk along the streets of Rotherhithe, London, S.E., and seeing children entering the Primitive Methodist School, Union Street, followed them. They were cordially welcomed by Mr. Edward Tiplady, the superintendent, now of Surrey Chapel, and, with the consent of their parents, were subsequently enrolled as scholars. Annie’s first teacher was Mrs. Pestall, now glorified, and from her teaching on Conversion, based on Matthew, chapter xviii., she received her first distinct religious impression and offered her first heartfelt prayer. This work of grace was brought to maturity under the guidance of Mrs. Harley, well-known in many of our London Churches as a devoted woman and an acceptable local preacher. On New Year’s Day, 1866, Annie was taken by this saintly woman to the Class Meeting and entered as a member of the Church. Spheres of usefulness soon opened for this juvenile disciple. She became church organist, a teacher in the school, and when twenty years of age was appointed a class leader. Annie Moore set her heart on winning the young for Christ, and with the blessing of the Divine Spirit on her efforts, realised her lofty desire. One scene of those glad days of service vividly lives in her memory. Whilst engaged in prayer at the opening of the Society Class she was startled by someone commencing to sing Wesley’s verse of glad assurance –
“ My God is reconciled
His pardoning voice I hear,
He owns me for his child,
I can no longer tear.
With confidence I now draw nigh
And, “Father, Abba, Father,” cry.

She soon found this rejoicing heart had been a sorely troubled heart, for the new convert said, “I could not sleep last night for my sins; I walked my room; I wrote a long letter to you at two o’clock this morning and then tore it up, but now God has saved me.” Emma Davis, who then passed into the liberty of the children of God, has been known for several years as Sister Annie, of Surrey Chapel, whose praise is in South-East London, as a Sister of the people. Her sisterhood name looks back to those days of her early Christian life, for she writes, “I told the Rev. J. Tolefree Parr I would be called Annie after my first class leader, for your patient gentle manner has ever been with me, and when I have had girls that caused my heart to ache, I have remembered how trying I was and what patience and love had done for me.”

Early in 1877, Annie Moore became the wife of Mr. Charles Tough, of Bell Farm, Eton Wick, a sturdy Scotchman, and, by training, a Presbyterian. He is a contrast, truly, to his ardent evangelistic consort, but he is one who has the largeness of heart to acquiesce in her godly enterprise. Her send-off from the Church at Rotherhithe was with many tangible tokens of love and esteem, and earnest supplications for her future usefulness.

A new chapter in her religious life opened with her entrance into wedded life. Our nearest church was at Windsor, over two miles distance, and the only Nonconformist service in the neighbourhood was held in the afternoon in an iron room belonging to the Congregationalists. Our sister spent a portion of her first Sabbath in the village distributing tracts and speaking a word for her Master. She was impressed with the godlessness of the young people, and obtained permission to hold a service on their behalf in the iron room on a Sunday eve, at a time when no other service was held at church or chapel. Intolerance was soon manifested and the manner of it is an object lesson of the scant mercy with which clericalism looks upon the efforts of Nonconformists in many a village of our land. The children who attended her services were questioned at the National School and detained after school hours as a punishment. The following letter will show the spirit of the curate in charge of the village church.

DEAR MRS. TOUGH,
I have just heard that you have been holding a Sunday School in your Chapel for some time past, and that our children are in the habit of attending it. I shall be much obliged to you if you will kindly not encourage them to do so, as I have forbidden them to attend it, as I wish them to attend our Church School only, as both they and their parents are members of our Church, and as such ought not to attend a Chapel Sunday School which is entirely different in its teaching. I address my letter to you as the children tell me, you are, as it were, the Superintendent of the Sunday School. Hoping you will understand my meaning and take it in good part,
I remain,
Yours faithfully,
W.W.R.

Happily for the cause of religious liberty this arrogant letter was sent to a lady of sturdy Protestant principles and a doughty champion of religious freedom. The correspondence which ensued found its way into the local and London papers. One of the London evening papers, in its editorial notes, said, “This Mrs. Tough proved a somewhat tough customer and was not to be softened down by the curate’s courtesy, and, in her reply, goes straight to the point. We hope that in future the Rev. W.W.R. will be satisfied with his own inhibitions and prohibitions and not be caught in another controversy with a lady who evidently knows how to defend herself.” The Christian World, commenting on the correspondence, said: “We notice the Rev. W.W.R. is a young man, and only recently taken holy orders; we hope as he grows older he will grow wiser.” Locally, the circumstance caused quite a sensation and paved the way for the accomplishment of our sister’s heart’s desire, the erection of a Primitive Methodist Chapel in a newly developing neighbourhood. The Windsor Station, having another project in hand, declined to take up the work. Mrs. Tough therefore prevailed on the Maidenhead Station to mission the village, a class was formed by the Rev. G. Doe, and meetings commenced in a cottage. The one great need was a chapel. and, Mrs. Tough, full of zeal, repeatedly interviewed the owner of the land in the locality, but without avail. At length, one morning, she obtained from him a conditional promise that if a certain gentleman effected a purchase of land that day she should have a site for a chapel. True to his word, the ground measuring 20 feet by 102 feet was placed at her disposal. “I give it you,” said he, “as a reward for perseverance.” To convey the land connexionally was the difficulty as the owner refused to give it to any but our sister.

The deadlock, however, was overcome by a suggestion of the late Rev. James Lee, that the property should be vested in Mrs. Tough as one of the Trustees, hence our lady trustee. A neat and suitable village chapel, with school attached, was opened September 26th, 1886, at a cost of £300, towards which our sister has herself raised £108. Right well and nobly has she honoured her responsibility, and no persons will more readily acknowledge this than her co-trustees. The extinction of the debt has recently been accomplished, and is to be followed by an enlargement of the school. Compared with many chapel projects the effort may appear small, but such success must be measured by the intolerance of the cleric, the slowness and poverty of our villages, and the little handful of faithful souls who keep true-hearted to Christ and His Church amid many discouragements. Much good work has been done in this quiet corner of our vineyard, and the joy of new-born souls has frequently resounded in the little edifice.

Whilst Mrs. Tough is a most capable official, and is ever anxious for material success, she is more than that, for her greatest joy is to lead souls to her Saviour and watch them progress in the Divine life. In many ways she has been used of God to the salvation of souls. One case well known to the writer is worth recording.

There came to reside in the village an elderly man, named William Broad, of fine presence. He was addicted to intemperance, and was the soul of many a convivial party on account of his sparkling repartee and mirth-provoking disposition. Our sister invited him, by note, to the chapel. He came a few times. To him it was a novelty to hear a woman pray, and it was afterwards known that he had given a boy a penny to tell him when our sister engaged in prayer, that he might listen outside to her supplications. Despite his bad habits, the Spirit of God laid hold on his heart. At his request Mrs. Tough visited him, and showed him the way to salvation and led him into the rest of faith. He was then sixty years of age. He at once became a total abstainer and non-smoker, and opened his house for a weekly prayer-meeting.

His boon companions soon understood the change was not only wonderful but real. True, his Christian life was uphill work owing to deeply-rooted habits and former associations, but he held on his way. Severe affliction attended his later days, and then the call came quite suddenly, and this brand plucked from the burning was safe at last.

This is not an isolated case in our sister’s experience. Many of her Sunday school scholars are identified with the Church of God and serving Him in various places, which is to her a matter of deep joy.

A young man now in training for the ministry in a Congregational College owes much to our sister, who pointed him to Christ when a lad, fostered his early religious life, and did much to give him a start in the world. It was Mrs. Tough’s fond hope he would find his way into the ranks of our ministry, but Providence has ordered otherwise; and though the disappointment is great, it is mingled with the broader outlook – the kingdom of Christ will be served by a disciple of this village church.

A glance at the Maidenhead plan reveals our sister is now a fully accredited lay preacher. She is in considerable requisition not only at home but in surrounding stations, but the important claims of home restrict her mission. Her messages have the old gospel ring, and there is no gladness to her like the bringing of the lost ones home.

To dismiss this sketch without a word of her estimable social qualities, her generous hospitality, would be unpardonable. She is the soul of good nature, the most considerate of friends, true as steel, and bright as a summer morn. “Her own works praise her in the gates.” “Honour to whom honour.”

Family

Annie was born abt 1854 at Rotherhithe, Surrey, to parents John William and Mary Ann Elizabeth. John was an oar and scull maker.

She married Charles Tough (abt 1847-1924) in the spring of 1877 in the St Saviour Southwark, Registration District.

Annie died on 9 June 1930 at Windsor, Berkshire.

References

Christian Messenger 1903/362

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

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