200th Anniversary of the death of Sarah Crosby (1729-1804)
Sarah Crosby was born on 7th November 1729.
One of the first women preachers of Methodism Sarah Crosby was described by Zechariah Taft as “an itinerant, yeas, a field preacher”. For forty years she preached and practised what she preached. She died on the 24th October 1804 in Leeds.
Sarah Crosby was attracted by George Whitefield’s preaching, but influenced by John Wesley’s sermon on Christian Perfection. She joined the Foundery society and became a classâ€“leader in 1752.
Having been deserted by her husband in 1757, she travelled to Derby in 1761 to support the work of her friends, the Dobinsons. She was closely associated with Mary Bosanquet (afterwards the wife of John Fletcher) and Sarah Ryan in their orphanage at Leytonstone, and work at Cross Hall.Â
When she went to lead her class at Leytonstone, on one occasion, instead of thirty members she found two hundred present, and was led to speak to them altogether instead of separately.
In this way she was moved to begin exhorting and she wrote to John Wesley about female preaching and received qualified encouragement.
In response to many invitations, she made extensive preaching tours during the next forty years with Leeds as her centre.
During one year she travelled nine hundred and sixty miles, held one hundred and twenty public services, led six hundred class and private meetings, and wrote one hundred and sixteen letters.
Under the name Sarah Williamson, she is probably ‘the blessed women’ referred to in Adam Bede as the friend of Dinah Morris.
Many of the letters John Wesley wrote to her survive.