Cutler, Ann

Early WM female travelling evangelist, born at Thornley, near Longridge, Lancs. William Bramwell, under whom she was converted in 1785, was impressed by her piety and prayer life. She met John Wesley at Preston in 1790. There was something medieval about the stringency of her spiritual exercises: rising at midnight for prayer, she rose at 4 a.m. for further prayer and Bible reading and prayed at frequent intervals during her daily work as a weaver. She led a simple life, surviving on a diet mainly of milk and herb tea. Her prayers were pithy and pointed, but awakened faith. Her public prayers, which often resulted in conversions, earned her the nickname 'Praying Nanny'. Like some of her Methodist contemporaries, she had mystical visions of the Trinity. In the Fylde, where she shared in the ministry of Martha Thompson, she was mocked and persecuted for her oddity. She travelled in many circuits, including Preston, Bradford, Manchester and Derby and was associated with Bramwell in the Yorkshire revival of 1792-94. She died in Macclesfield on 29 December 1794; her grave in Christ Church churchyard has an inscription describing her simple manners, solid piety and extraordinary power in prayer.

  • W. Bramwell, A Short Account of the Life and Death of Ann Cutler (Sheffield, 1796; new edition, 1827)
  • Oxford DNB