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 Ann Lee

Ann Lee

Birth
Manchester, Metropolitan Borough of Manchester, Greater Manchester, England
Death 8 Sep 1784 (aged 48)
Watervliet, Albany County, New York, USA
Burial Colonie, Albany County, New York, USA
Memorial ID 610 · View Source
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Religious Leader. Born the daughter of a blacksmith in Manchester, England, the second of eight children. As a child, she was employed by a textile mill, as poor working man's daughter, she was not given an education and remained illiterate. By the time she was in her early twenties, she had gained employment as a cook in the public infirmary and madhouse. About the same time, she joined an offshoot sect of the Quakers known as the Shaking Quakers, or Shakers who combined the beliefs of both the Quakers and the French Camisard movement. In 1762, her father married her to his apprentice, there were four children, none of whom survived infancy. In 1770, she was imprisoned during a wave of religious persecution in Britain. While incarcerated, she testified to an epiphany; lust impeded Christ’s work and that only through celibacy could his kingdom on Earth be furthered. Four years later, as the result of another vision, she, her husband, brother, and six other followers immigrated to America, but within a year her husband left the community. By then known as Mother Ann, she preached the sect's message at every opportunity: a life with God began with confession and was perfected by celibacy. The pacifist group came under suspicion during the American Revolution for refusing to take sides or swear to an oath of loyalty. She was imprisoned briefly, but released when she promised not to work against the patriot cause. She founded a religious settlement in Niskeyuna (present day Watervliet), New York. The first two American converts joined by 1780. In 1781, she and her two closest adherents, one of whom her brother, set off on a missionary tour of New England. Although some witnesses swore she performed a number of miracles, the missionaries were often met with violence, and were sometimes beaten and occasionally horsewhipped during the two year mission. The health of both Ann and her brother was broken, neither ever fully recovered. She died a year later at the age of 48. She had created a community based on a communal life; common ownership of property and goods, celibate purity, and confession of sins. As they were celibate, they adopted children and allowed converts. Eventually 19 official Shaker communities were established with a membership numbering in the thousands before the sect faded. They held advanced ideas of equality between the sexes and races, were pacifists who were officially exempted from service in the Civil War, and invented a number of household items still in use today. The tiny Sabbathday Lake Community is currently the only surviving Shaker community.

Bio by: Iola


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 1 Jan 2001
  • Find A Grave Memorial 610
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Ann Lee (29 Feb 1736–8 Sep 1784), Find A Grave Memorial no. 610, citing Shaker Cemetery, Colonie, Albany County, New York, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .