Elizabeth Fry (1780-1845)
Elizabeth Fry, formerly Gurney, is well known for her great work in prison reform and other causes. She was one of the seven motherless daughters of John Gurney of Earlham, near Norwich, and was known to her sisters as Betsy. The change in her life came when she was eighteen, through a visit to Norwich meeting by William Savery (1750-1804), of Philadelphia. Savery, in his own Journal, says, "I thought it the gayest meeting of Friends I ever sat in, and was grieved to see it. I expected to pass the meeting in silent suffering but at length believed it most for my peace to express a little, and, through gracious condescension, was favoured to relieve my mind, and many were tendered." Betsy herself writes, "I wish the state of enthusiasm I am now in may last, for today I have felt that there is a God; l have been devotional, and my mind has been led away from the follies that it is most wrapped up in."
In 1843, when suffering acutely from her last illness, Elizabeth Fry remarked to one of her daughters: "I can say one thing since my heart was touched at seventeen years old, I believe I have never awakened from sleep, in sickness or in health, by day or by night, without my first waking thought being how best I might serve my Lord."
Susanna Corder: Life of Elizabeth Fry, 1853, p. 601.