Selections from Jonathan Bell’s memoirs provides some insight into the character of Priscilla’s sisters.

Catherine: a closely devoted religious Quaker. Florid complexion, dark eyes and hair more a Bell than a Barclay in looks. Her mind possessed every engaging quality … under strict regulation her thirst of knowledge was ardent and she was extensively accomplished in mental attainments. She was greatly admired. She married John Gurney a merchant of Norwich. They had a numerous family: Catherine, John, Rachael, Elizabeth, Hannah, Richonda, Louisa, Samuel, Daniel, Joseph, Priscilla. She died at a young age – her daughter Elizabeth Fry was the well-known prison reformer.

Elizabeth: elegant and stately, very handsome and graceful, endowed with talents energy and feeling over taking the strongest interest in everyone’s affairs and pursuits. She wrote some novels that were highly spoken of but never published. She did publish a book on home nursing. The death of her daughter from measles at the age of 14 or 15 is said to have nearly broken her heart. She married John Hanbury and lived to over 70 years of age. Her children were: William, Kitty, John, Capel Charles, George.

Lucy: died unmarried although she had many suitors. She suffered for many years with palpitations from an enlargement of the heart. She adopted the closest demeanor in dress and conduct and appeared as the plainest of Quakers. She had a natural cheerfulness and affectionate disposition. Of middle stature, brown complexion with black expressive eyes.

Charlotte: was more of a Friend from her youth than her sisters. She married a close friend Capel Hanbury (brother of John) and had two sons Cornelius and Daniel. She was slight and rather tall, neither brown or fair, a sensible countenance without the energetic character of her sisters and without the attractiveness they possessed. There was a reserved coldness in her disposition. She was extremely read in all kinds of literature.

Rebecca: the handsomest, a fine expressive countenance, stately in person, more brown than fair, the finest temper and disposition possible, animated and affection overflowing. Married Abel Chapman who was not a Quaker and this was a point of disagreement. They had a large family: Abel, Hannah, Mary, Catherine, Emma, Ellen, David, Jonathan, William, Daniel, Edward, Alfred, Frederick and Henry.

Christianna or Chrissy Bell: very popular, animated countenance and cheerful – very clever – quick in ideas and expressive in manner. Married twice. First to David Springhall the children Nathaniel and Catherine died young. Second husband was Thomas Hankin and she had Hannah, Chrissy, Maria, Daniel, Emma and George. She had a mind panting after knowledge and good in which her husband did not harmonise. She died a victim of extreme nervousness.  

Caroline: fair with blue eyes and flowing auburn hair. She was all sweetness and simplicity. Married John Head of Ipswich some years older than herself. She died within a year of the marriage.

Published in: on July 25, 2010 at 4:54 am  Leave a Comment  

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