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Ryan, Mrs Sarah

She was of humble origins and began her working life in domestic service. At the age of 20 she married a sailor who proved to be a bigamist. After further misfortunes she found a spiritual home at the Foundery in London and a spiritual friend in Sarah Crosby. She became a confidant and correspondent of John Wesley's, and the object of his wife's jealous suspicion. He appointed her housekeeper (1757-61) at the New Room, Bristol. Back in London because of ill-health, in 1763 she joined Mary Bosanquet at her school for orphans at Leytonstone. This moved to Cross Hall, near Leeds in 1768 in the hope that country air would improve her health, but she died shortly afterwards.


  • Sarah Ryan, An Account of the Work of God in Leytonstone (1763)
  • Arminian Magazine, 1779, 1781, 1782
  • E. Ralph Bates, 'Sarah Ryan and Kingswood School', in WHS Proceedings, 38 pp.110-14
  • Letters of John Wesley, ed. John Telford, vols. 3-5
  • Janet Burge, Women Preachers in Community (Peterborough, 1996)

Entry written by: EDG
Category: Person

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