(1795-1871) Born Mary Smith at Plantation Farm in Dukinfield on the 24th May 1795, Mary Moffat, and her husband Robert, were to become a major missionary figures in South Africa in the 19th century. Her homelife during childhood was devoutly Christian and from an early age, while at the Fairfield Moravian School, she expressed an intention to go into missionary work. In 1816 she met her future husband Robert Moffat who had moved into the district. He was also determined to be a missionary, and the couple married, despite her family objections, later in 1819, when Mary had joined him in South Africa. They immediately set off by ox cart to travel overland to Lattakoo, some 800 miles north of Cape Town. Life on the mission station which they built was hard and testing – they had to grow their own food and learn the language of the natives whom they hoped to convert to Christianity. The local Bechuana tribe offered little help and regarded them with a mixture of suspicion and fascination. During the Boer War in the 1820s their lives was in perpetual risk from warring tribes. Gradually, they learned to speak in the local language and began to gain the respect of local people and actually translated the New Testament into the Sechuana language. In all they remained at work in Africa for more than fifty years, during which time Mary gave birth to nine children. During a return visit to England from 1839-1843, Robert met with the young David Livingstone, whom he persuaded to work in Africa, and after a prolonged stay with the Moffats, Livingstone married their eldest daughter Mary in 1845. In 1870 the Moffats returned to England and Mary died just five months later in Brixton, London on the 10th of January 1871.
Eldress Anna White of Mount Lebanon, New York
(1736-1784) Ann Lee was born on 29th February 1736 in Toad Lane, Manchester, England (later renamed “Todd Street” and subsequently overbuilt by Victoria Station in the 1840s, only a few yards of Todd Street now survive). ‘Mother’ Ann Lee (as she came to be called), was a founder member and leader of the so-called Shakers, a religious group and offshoot of the Quakers – men known as brothers, and women as sisters. During the 1770s Ann had emigrated accompanied by 8 followers from England to Watervliet, New York in the USA to escape religious persecution. The method of worship she and others followed was one of ecstatic dancing or shaking; hence they were dubbed in a local newspaper as “shaking quakers”, later to be shortened, simply, to Shakers. From around 1772, under her leadership, the group developed a way of life that rejected marriage and observed strict celibacy, emphasising a work ethic for which they have ever since been known, whereby work itself was considered a form of prayer or worship. Several Shaker communities grew up around New England notably in New Hampshire, New York and Maine. Of these settlements, Canterbury Shaker Village in New Hampshire is one of few and best physically preserved, still more-or-less intact. (See www.shakers.org). As a young woman, Ann’s father had forced her to marry Abraham Standley, with whom she became pregnant several times and suffered miscarriages, only 4 children actually being born and not one of them lived beyond the age of six. Difficult pregnancies and the loss of all of her children probably contributed to Ann Lees dislike of sexual relations, and her insistence of strict celibacy amongst her Shaker converts. Also, she believed that through celibacy they were emulating the life of Jesus and that each person could serve God more fully if that energy were channelled into the community, rather than into personal relationships. Followers of Mother Ann came to believe that she embodied all the perfections of God in female form, and she supposedly considered herself to be Christs female counterpart. She preached that sinfulness could be avoided by not only treating men and women equally but also by keeping them separated so as to prevent any sort of temptation from leading to impure acts. Their distinctive shaking during prayer developed into a rhythmic group movement and eventually evolved into a full group dance routine which sometimes went on for hours on end. There being no children born to the group nor heirs to continue the practice, they relied on an influx of new members with children and in offering homes to orphaned children to maintain their numbers and by the 1840s they had attracted more than 5000 followers.
The last Shaker Sisters at Canterbury were Gertrude, Bertha and Ethel, who died in 1988, 1990 and 1992, respectively. The last Shaker community at Sabbathday Lake, Maine, is still (as of October 2008) comprised of three official Shakers: Sisters Frances and June, both in their late 70s and early 80s, and Brother Arnold in his mid-50s. They also have recently gained a new convert, Sister Sasha who is in her 20s. Ann Lee herself died in Watervliet on 8th September 1784.
Note: As there were no images of Mother Ann Lee made during her lifetime, we have included a rare image here in illustration of Shaker style – that of Eldress Anna White (1831-1910) of Mount Lebanon, New York.
We are indebted to Sarah Dunham, Co-ordinator of Educational Programs at Canterbury Shaker Village, New Hampshire, USA, for supplying additional information and guidance in writing this entry.
(Born 1995) Little Kirsty Howard, born 20 September 1995, has become the face of the Francis House Hospice in Parrs Wood Road, Didsbury. The past few years have seen this very seriously ill little girl help raise over £3 million for the hospice, and in the process meet with and captivate celebrities from the world of television, pop music and sport. Sadly, as home to many poorly and terminally ill children, the hospice receives only around 4% of its funding from the local Health Authority, and the additional 96% is dependent upon gifts from voluntary donations. The annual running costs are £1.4 million a year. Since Kirsty’s parents agreed to allow her to front the massive campaign to raise £5 million and thus secure the future of Francis House, she has tirelessly worked to publicise the appeal and has highlighted the plight of the poorly children. Kirsty was born with a rare inoperable heart condition – her heart is back to front, so that all her other organs are misplaced and she has only a single pumping heart chamber. Kirsty has had nine cardiac procedures and her day-to-day living is severely restricted by abnormal blood vessels developing in her lung.
In February 1999 she was given six weeks to live but is still fighting. She has already, by the age of 8, raised over £3 million to date, despite being terminally ill. In the process this little girl became a celebrity in her own right and stole the nation’s heart when, clutching David Beckham’s hand, she presented the Jubilee baton to Her Majesty the Queen at the 2002 Commonwealth Games at the City of Manchester Stadium. Many high profile stars of theatre, music and film have leant their names to the appeal, including, Dame Judi Dench, Terry Wogan, Lorraine Kelly, Bryan Robson, Carol Smilie, Joanna Lumley, Burt Reynolds, David & Victoria Beckham, Russell Watson and Amanda Holden. The Kirsty Howard Appeal succeeded in achieving its £5,000,000 goal on the 28 October 2006.
(Born 1945) Michael Levy was born in Manchester on the 6th March 1945. Following a successful business career he retired to live in Florida in the USA in 1992 and in 1998 he established Point of Life Inc , as a vehicle to project and promote his personal life philosophy. Today his website and his Point of Life Global Newsletter are visited and read by thousands of people around the world every month. Michael is a frequent speaker on American radio and television and he is now a host on Voice America Radio. He also holds frequent seminars sharing and discussing his views about the purpose and meaning of life. In just a few years he has become a well known poet and in 2002 he became a member of the Templeton Speaker’s Bureau. Michael Levy has thus far published four books: ” What is the Point: “Minds of Blue, Souls of Gold”, “Enjoy Yourself – It’s Later Than You Think” and “Invest with a Genius” , and his poetry and essays can now be found on many websites and in journals and magazines throughout the world. According to Levy, h is personal philosophies have now become “…a major source of Truth, Wisdom and Love for many people”. . The Royal College of Psychiatry has recently published three of his works. More of Michael Levy’s thoughts and beliefs can be found on his website at: www.pointoflife.com.
(1596-1669) Richard Mather was born in 1596 to Thomas and Margaret Mather, in the Lancashire district of Lowton (now part of Wigan MBC) and was to become a famous figure in the earliest history of the American colonies. Richard was educated at nearby Winwick Grammar School, and at the age of 15 became a schoolmaster in Toxteth, (now a district of Liverpool). He was ordained as a priest in 1620 and he preached his first sermon on 30th November 1618 at the Ancient Chapel of Toxteth in Park Road. Being a strict and outspoken Puritan, however, he soon found himself inevitably in conflict with Church of England doctrines and was suspended from preaching nonconformity in the Church of England by the Archbishop of York. Richard therefore decided to pursue his religious convictions and, like the Pilgrim Fathers before him, emigrated to Massachusetts in 1635. From then unto 1669 he was pastor of the Congregational Church in Dorchester, (now part of Boston), and went on to establish a large and influential family in the district. The Reverend Richard Mather died in Dorchester, Massachusetts on the 22nd April 1669. One of his sons, Increase Mather, was to become President of Harvard University, and Richard’s grandson, Cotton Mather, became a noted scholar, publishing nearly 500 books and articles on scientific subjects. Cotton Mather was also the first American to be elected a member of the Royal Society. During the smallpox epidemic of 1721 Cotton was also the first recorded American to attempt the controversial procedure of treatment by inoculation on his own son. For this he was bitterly castigated from all sides, and threats were even made against his life, but his son recovered and the procedure was vindicated. Richard’s eldest son participated in the notable Salem Witch Trials of 1692 and became President of Yale University.
(Born?- Died 1810) Philanthropic Oldham born businessman, Thomas Henshaw, left a £20,000 legacy that laid the foundations of over 160 years of support for blind and visually impaired people, and was to become Henshaw’s Society for Blind People. Originally known as the “Blind Asylum” and dedicated to help ‘the Indigent Blind’, it retained this title until 1971, when the premises were taken over by Greater Manchester Police as their regional headquarters, and the new Henshaw College was built in Harrogate, Yorkshire. Henshaw also founded the Bluecoat School in Oldham in 1834 for the education of the poor boys of that township.