Beecroft, Elizabeth ('Betty') (née Skirrow)

Born at Otley and baptized on 4 September 1748, she married a tenant farmer, George Beecroft, of Bramley, Leeds. Showing great enterprise and determination, she persuaded her husband to rent the derelict Kirkstall Forge and this launched a successful family ironmaking business, in which her brother-in-law John Butler played a crucial role.

At the age of 18 she attended a Methodist class meeting and was moved to seek God's blessing, despite her determination not to become a Methodist. She did so nevertheless on 22 November 1767. A committed Methodist from then on, she believed in the providential guidance of her enterprise. Local tradition records that John Wesley once took refuge in the forge from a hostile mob. She is known to have met him in London and to have received his blessing in his closing days. In addition to her entrepreneurial skills, she was remembered for her 'industry, economy, integrity, firmness of mind and inviolable attachment to the Scriptures'.

She died on 25 June 1812.

  • Thomas Butler, The diary of Thomas Butler of Kirkstall Forge Yorkshire 1796-1799 with which are incorporated extracts from the memoirs of Elizabeth Beecroft and an account of how Kirkstall Forge came into the possession of the Butler Family (1906), pp.361-76
  • Rodney Butler, The History of Kirkstall Forge (1954)
  • Oxford DNB


Category: Person
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