The heyday of female itinerancy
in Women and the shaping of British Methodism
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This chapter covers the heyday of female evangelism in the Primitive Methodist and Bible Christian Connexions. It both builds on and challenges Deborah Valenze's pioneering and important Prophetic Sons and Daughters: Female Preaching and Popular Religion in Industrial England. Valenze argued that what she defined as a ‘cottage religion’ arose out of the social and economic changes of the first half of the nineteenth century, and that religious worship in domestic spaces emboldened some women to embark on careers as itinerant (travelling) preachers. The examination of the lives and working conditions of female itinerants in the 1820s and 1830s supports Valenze's claim that the decline of women's itinerancy by the mid-century is partially explained by the effects of industrialization, urbanization and migration. But this is also attributed to internal change in the two sects, resulting in the development of a more formal ministry that excluded women. The chapter also challenges Valenze's contention that female evangelism died out in the second half of the century. Female itinerancy lapsed, but women evangelists adapted to changing conditions.

Women and the shaping of British Methodism

Persistent preachers, 1807–1907

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