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18th century (1) 2004 (1) ESR (1) immigration (1) Irish (1) memoir (1) Quaker (1)
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Short biography
Elizabeth Ashbridge, née Sampson, was born in Cheshire, England, to Thomas Sampson, a ship's surgeon, and his wife Mary. Her mother was a devout Anglican who raised her daughter in strict adherence to her faith. Elizabeth's autobiography reveals that she lived an unusual and adventurous adolescence. In 1727, at age 14, she eloped with and married a young stocking weaver against her family's wishes, only to become a widow five months later. Estranged from her father and unable to return home, she went to Ireland, where she stayed in Dublin with one of her mother's relatives, a member of the Society of Friends (Quakers), and on the west coast with a Catholic family. In 1732, she emigrated to the American colonies to join an uncle in Pennsylvania and begin a new life, and innocently agreed to become an indentured servant to pay for her passage, without knowing the terms. On arrival in New York City, she considered suicide to escape the cruelty of her master, but gave up the idea after hearing a voice saying, "There is a hell beyond the grave." She completed three of the four years of servitude and bought her freedom with money she earned by odd jobs and sewing. She married an itinerant schoolteacher named Sullivan, and traveled widely throughout New England with him. While visiting Quaker relatives in Pennsylvania, she became converted to their faith, much to the disapproval of her husband. The couple moved to Mount Holly, New Jersey, the home of John Woolman, an influential Quaker. Her dispute over religion with Sullivan, who had a tendency toward violence, ended in 1740 when he deserted her to enlist in the British army. After he died, Elizabeth remarried in 1746 to Aaron Ashbridge, a Quaker. She became a Quaker minister and traveled through England and Ireland speaking at meeting houses. She wrote her autobiography some time between the death of her second husband in 1741 and her third marriage. It was first published posthumously in 1774 as Some Account of the Fore Part of the Life of Elizabeth Ashbridge, and is considered an important piece of American literature and history.
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