Sister Annie


Sister Annie
Englesea Brook Museum 30q/01

The first Sister of the Poor was Emma Davis, who was known as Sister Annie.  She was appointed to serve at the Surrey Chapel, Rotherhithe.  As she died before 1903, this can not be her, but another ‘Sister Annie’.

Who was she?  This postcard links her to Hinckley Road Primitive Methodist Church, Leicester, about 1905. Is she wearing a uniform?  Could she have been one of the Sisters of the Poor, the PM equivalent of the Wesleyan Deaconess order.

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  • I was excited to see the photo of Sister Annie, as I have been trying to find out about her since seeing her name listed as a preacher on a PM plan of the Leicester Second Circuit. The plan is held in the Cosby chapel archives and relates to a period sometime between 1921 and 1925.

    Her address is given as 6 Bow Bridge Street, Leicester.

    Could she have been a Sister of the People? As far as I can discern with my limited search resources, this was a movement founded by Kathryn Hughes, the wife of Rev. Hugh Price Hughes (1847-1902) who in 1887 became the first superintendent of the West London Methodist Mission. The Sisters were social work volunteers attached to the mission. According to Wikepedia, they were the  forerunners of the Wesleyan Deaconess Order.

    Further afield, a contemporary of Hughes, William George Taylor (1845–1934) a Methodist minister from Yorkshire who worked in Sydney, Australia, established the ‘Sisters of the People’ movement, essentially the forerunner of the Methodist deaconess movement in Australia. In his biography of Taylor, Don Wright (1990) says that these young middle class women contributed greatly to the effectiveness of the Central Methodist Mission’s outreach into the slums and among fallen women, and was imitated elsewhere, including in the capitals of other colonies.

    References to ‘Sisters of the People’ can be found on these pages by Geoff Dickinson on the My PM Ancestors website

    James Tolefree Parr (1855 – 1930)

    During his time at the Surrey Chapel, London, the Rev. Parr found the local conditions so appalling in their poverty that “he called into the work Sister Annie, the first ‘Sister of the People’ in his own branch of Methodism”.

    Is this the same Sister Annie? Perhaps Rev. Parr met her when he was stationed in Leicester from 1874-1878.

    John Fletcher Porter (1845 -1913)

    In 1887, Rev. Porter was appointed by the General Missionary Committee to open the North Bow Mission in east London. During his time there, “a Sister of the People was employed in the social ministries of the station. By this appointment, John could claim to be one of the pioneers in the Connexion for the employment of such sisters”.

    Joseph Johnson 1848-1912

    In 1906, Rev. Johnson married his third wife, Elizabeth Ann Coe (1856-1931). She became a ‘Sister of the People’ in 1901 in the Leicester circuit.

    George Pearson Clarke 1846 -1918

    It is stated that he “was the first to introduce the ‘Sister of the People’ agency” but there are no further details. Rev. Clarke had an association with Leicester, where he was stationed from 1885-1887, and from 1914-1918

    See also ‘Hugh Price Hughes and the Richardson Family‘ by Harvey Richardson on the My Wesleyan Ancestors website.

    By Jane Richardson (02/05/2015)

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