The Twickenham Museum
People : Lawyers and Clergy

Joanna Southcott
Visionary founder of the Southcottians
1750 - 1814

Joanna Southcott

"Prophetess of Exeter"

Joanna Southcott, daughter of a Devon farmer, was at first attached to both the Established and the Wesleyan churches. She embraced Methodism, allegedly by divine intervention in 1791. Indeed, supposed divine intervention governed many of her actions and beliefs.

Known to her contemporaries as the "Prophetess of Exeter", she founded her sect the Southcottians, having come to believe that she had been chosen to give birth to the child Shiloh who would bring about the Second Coming. Usually described as a fanatic, she was not violently so, being described as "a kindly, motherly creature, simple, amiable, and unaffected".

She moved to Paddington in London in 1802, suffered a serious illness in 1803 thereafter visiting the north of England.

Southcottians in Teddington and Twickenham

It has been stated that she stayed or lived for a time in a small cottage on the north side of the Staines Road opposite the entrance to Gothic Road. There was, possibly, a chapel attached to the cottage. During this period she spent much time at Blockley in Gloucestershire

There was also a chapel in Teddington, known as the Millennium Chapel, site unknown, and even one in Hampton Hill. This one may have stood in the Uxbridge Road near to the Jolly Gardeners Public House. Records held at the London Metropolitan Archives indicate that in 1810 there were 125 adult and 88 child members of the Teddington Chapel. Only about half of these were local residents.

She died in London in the year that Shiloh was to be born and, following medical investigation was buried, on 1 January 1815 at St John's Wood.

Further reading:

T H R Cashmore, The Southcottians in Teddington and Twickenham, Borough of Twickenham Newsletter No50
Dictionary of National Biography
R S Cobbett, Memorials of Twickenham, Smith Elder, 1872
London Metropolitan Archives, ACC 1040/1-3
Frances Brown, Joanna Southcott - The Woman Clothed with the Sun, Lutterworth, 2002

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