Smith, Elizabeth (Mrs Russell)

Early PM itinerant, born on 10 January 1805. Brought up by her grandmother, she was apprenticed to a dressmaker and went to work at 16 in London. Her conversion at Christmas 1825 cost her her job. She became a local preacher the following year and an itinerant in 1828. Particularly successful at 'opening' new areas, she played a part in the pioneering Hampshire mission. She faced much hostility from clergy, rowdy youths and musicians, especially in the Brinkworth District, where female preaching was a great novelty. She worked in Darlaston and Bilston during the cholera epidemic of 1832 and married fellow-itinerant Thomas Russell on Easter Monday 1833, but died on 21 February 1836.


'She moved about amongst the rough crowds as though she had a charmed life. At notorious Ramsbury she walked up the avenue to the barn where she was to conduct the service, singing with great sweetness and pathos. The path was lined with men provided with stones, eggs and other missiles ready to fling; but as their ringleader saw and heard the preacheress, "dressed in the characteristic garb of a Friend", he was overawed, and turning to his followers, he said with authority, "None of you shall touch that woman." And this disarming of opposition as by the mere efflux of her own personality was an incident often repeated.'

H.B. Kendall, The Origin and History of the Primitive Methodist Church, 1906, p.331

  • PM Magazine, 1830-33 passim, 1837 p.25
  • Joseph Ritson, The Romance of Primitive Methodism (1909) pp.146-48
  • E. Dorothy Graham, Chosen by God (Bunbury, 1989) p.21


Entry written by: EDG
Category: Person
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