Female spirituality amongst nonconformists, 1825-75

Wilson, Linda (1997) Female spirituality amongst nonconformists, 1825-75. PhD thesis, University of Gloucestershire.

Full text not available from this repository.


Religion was an integral part of many women's lives in the nineteenth century, yet much remains to be discovered about their experience. This thesis seeks to contribute to the developing knowledge about female spirituality. To this end, it investigates women within four Nonconformist denominations, Particular Baptist, Congregationalist, Primitive Methodist and Wesleyan Methodist, during the period 1825-75. In particular, it seeks to discover the extent to which their religion was influenced by the 'separate sphere' ideology current at the time, or whether an evangelical ethos, or the culture of particular denominations, was more formative in shaping their religious experience. The study is largely based on obituaries, and to a lesser extent on biographies, autobiographies and other materials. Following the introduction, chapter two discusses these sources, their strengths and weaknesses, and the use made of them in the thesis. David Bebbington has identified four major characteristics of evangelicalism, and chapter three investigates the extent to which these were also foundational in women's experience. One of the four, conversion, is discussed at greater length in chapter four, investigating the stages of the process, including the catalysts that triggered it, and whether a sudden or a gradual change was involved. Personal piety, expressed primarily through prayer and Bible study, was a vital aspect of women's lives as Christians. Chapter five discusses this topic, seeking to understand the influences on these private aspects of female spirituality. The domestic environment was potentially the most susceptible to the influence of separate spheres. Chapter six investigates some of the ways in which spirituality was worked out in this context, including training children, managing servants, participating in family worship, and coping with illness and death. It assesses how far all these aspects of home life were affected by contemporary ideology. Within the church spirituality was expressed in various ways, from quiet attendance, through faithful Sunday school teaching and busy philanthropy, to bold preaching. It is suggested that this constituted a third sphere, neither public nor private, in which women's role was extended within a comparatively safe environment. All is summarised in chapter eight, where an assessment is attempted of the relative strengths of the influences affecting female Nonconformist spirituality during this period.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Advisors:
Thesis AdvisorEmailURL
Scotland, Nigelnscotland@glos.ac.ukUNSPECIFIED
Additional Information: A print copy of this thesis is available for reference use only. PhD awarded by Cheltenham & Gloucester College of Higher Education which later became the University of Gloucestershire
Related URLs:
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BX Christian Denominations
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Creatives
Depositing User: Anne Pengelly
Date Deposited: 08 Jun 2022 09:34
Last Modified: 31 Aug 2023 08:57
URI: https://eprints.glos.ac.uk/id/eprint/11193

University Staff: Request a correction | Repository Editors: Update this record

University Of Gloucestershire

Bookmark and Share

Find Us On Social Media:

Social Media Icons Facebook Twitter Google+ YouTube Pinterest Linkedin

Other University Web Sites

University of Gloucestershire, The Park, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, GL50 2RH. Telephone +44 (0)844 8010001.