Joanna Southcott. Isaiah Ch. LXV & LXVI. Jan.y 1812.
Published by Jane Townley London. Published according to Act of Parliament Jan.y 12.th 1812 by Jane Townley London.
Engraving, large paper. Plate 355 x 300mm. 14 x 11¾". Uncut.
Joanna Southcott [1750-1814] charismatic religious leader, produced sixty-five or more printed tracts (amounting to 4,500 pages) and many works in manuscript during the first thirteen years of the nineteenth century. These, she maintained, were dictated to her by the Spirit of God. Joanna Southcott was an 18th century English religious visionary. Born into a small Devonshire farming family she spent her earlier years in domestic service. Regarded by her family as being 'too religious' she joined the Methodist movement in Exeter in 1791 and in the following year of 1792 began to claim the gift of prophecy, taking up the practice of writing down her revelations and then sealing them for verification after the predicted event had happened. Her claims were not well received by her Methodist congregation and by the end of the year she had broken with them. For the next six years she sought attention from the Church authorities to verify her claims but to no real avail. However in 1801 she began publishing her claims with her first work being 'The Strange Effects of Faith' printed by T. Brice of Exeter, which invited "any twelve ministers" to "try" her claims. She began to attract followers, especially from former adherents of fellow visionary Richard Brothers, and in 1802 she settled in London. From London she began touring the country giving lectures and holding meetings of her faithful where sealed testaments of salvation were given out. She continued writing prophecies and her followers conducted public trials of them as well as continuing to publish them for a wider dissemination, all attracting the attention of the press. In her third 'Book of Wonders' (1813-1814) she announced that, aged 64, she was to become the mother of Shiloh, an obscure messianic figure mentioned in Genesis. However, although displaying some of the outward signs of pregnancy, she became increasingly ill, and died, probably of a brain disease, on the 29th of December, four days after she had predicted the birth that never came. According to her instructions her body was dissected four days after her death and no signs of pregnancy were found. Nonetheless many of her followers continued to study the 60 or more tracts and books of her writings and the sect only died out at the end of the 19th century. At its height her following was said to have numbered over 100,000 but a more realistic figure of 20,000 has been given by modern commentators. After her death she left a locked box with instructions that it should only be opened in the presence of 24 bishops and at a time of national crisis. Apart from the prophetic and messianic overtones her theological stance was Anglican orthodox and she was instrumental in the rapid decline of Richard Brothers' popularity, as she openly declared him a blasphemer and a heretic and in doing so split his own following.
See Ref: 13594 for proof before title. See Baker: 60; undescribed state ["William Sharp Engraver"].
[Ref: 21013] £280.00