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Kirkland, Sarah (Mrs. Bembridge)
c.1794-1880 (e.m. 1816)

Commonly regarded as the first female PM itinerant, she was born at Mercaston, Derbys. The family were associated with the WM society, and Sarah was influenced by the preaching of William Bramwell. The WM preachers were succeeded by Primitive Methodists and Sarah started to preach in 1813 or 1814, following visits by Hugh Bourne and William Clowes. At Christmas 1815 she was the first PM missioner to enter Nottingham. As an itinerant from 1816 she undertook many missions in which the novelty of a young female preacher drew great crowds and she received many preaching invitations. In 1818 she married her fellow itinerant John Harrison (1795-1821), born at Bradley Park, Derbys. He joined the PMs at Hulland in 1811, became a pioneer preacher in Nottingham and Lincolnshire and launched the Leicestershire Mission in 1818. In 1819 they joined Clowes in the PM stronghold of Hull. They worked together until his health and her pregancy forced their retirement to Mercaston in May 1820, where John died in July 1821. Sarah was never stationed by the Connexion, having retired before the first PM Conference. In 1825 she married a fellow local preacher, William Bembridge (d. 1880), and continued as local preacher and class leaderat Mugginton until her death at Alfreton on 4 March 1880.

Sources

  • George Herod, Biographical Sketches of some of those Preachers ... of the Primitive Methodist Connexion (1855), pp.305-36
  • John Walford, The Memoirs of the Life and Labours of the late Venerable Hugh Bourne (Burslem, 1855-57)
  • Primitive Methodist Magazine, 1881 passim
  • H.B. Kendall, The Origin and History of the Primitive Methodist Church (1906) vol. 1
  • Joseph Ritson, The Romance of Primitive Methodism (1909) pp.134-38
  • Oxford DNB

Entry written by: EDG
Category: Person

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