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Cambridge, Alice
1762-1829

Pioneer Irish woman preacher, born on 1 January 1762 in Bandon. She was brought up in the Church of Ireland, but joined the Methodists in 1780. Her spiritual experience compelled her into an increasingly public ministry. Helped by the novelty of female preaching, she drew large crowds wherever she went and many responded to her appeals. Reacting to criticism, she sought John Wsley's advice, which was, 'Obey ... in all things, as far as your conscience permits. But it will not permit you to be silent when God commands you to speak.' In 1802 the Irish Conference withdrew membership from women who persisted in preaching, but she persisted in spite of this, drawing such large outdoor congregations that by special resolution in 1811 the Conference readmitted her, though without rescinding the ban on women preachers. From about 1800 she worked in a shop in Dublin, then in 1809 set up in business in Cork, but gave this up in 1813 and from then on travelled widely throughout Ireland. Forced by ill-health to retire to Nenagh in 1824, she died there on 1 January 1829.

Sources

  • J.J. McGregor (ed.), Memoir of Miss A. Cambridge (1832)
  • C.H. Crookshank, Memorable Women of Irish Methodism in the Last Century (1882) pp.191-203
  • P.W. Chilcote, John Wesley and the Women Preahers of Early Methodism (Metuchen, NJ, 1991) pp.203-4, 232-3, 254-5
  • Oxford DNB

Entry written by: RPR
Category: Person

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