Bury, Elizabeth (DNB00)

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BURY, Mrs. ELIZABETH (1644–1720), diarist, was baptised 12 March 1644 at Clare, Suffolk, the day of her birth having probably been 2 March (Account of the Life and Death of Mrs. Elizabeth Bury, p. 1). Her father was Captain Adams Lawrence of Linton, Cambridgeshire; her mother was Elizabeth Cutts of Clare, and besides Elizabeth there were three other children. In 1648, when Elizabeth was four years old, Captain Lawrence died, and in 1661 Mrs. Lawrence remarried (ib. 3), her second husband being Mr. Nathaniel Bradshaw, B.D., minister of a church in the neighbourhood. About 1664 Elizabeth described herself as 'converted,' and she commenced that searching method of introspection with the evidence of which her 'Diary' abounds. Her studies, begun rigidly at four in the morning, in spite of delicate health, embraced Hebrew (ib. 6), French, music, heraldry, mathematics, philosophy, philology, anatomy, medicine, and divinity. Her stepfather, Mr. Bradshaw, being one of the ejected ministers in 1662, the family moved to Wivelingham, Cambridgeshire. Elizabeth in 1664 began writing down her 'experiences' in her 'Diary,' 'concealing her accounts' at the onset 'in shorthand.' In 1667, on 1 Feb., she married Mr. Griffith Lloyd of Hemmingford-Grey, Huntingdonshire, who died on 13 April 1682. In her widowhood, which lasted another fifteen years, Mrs. Lloyd passed part of her time in Norwich. She was married at Bury to Samuel Bury [q. v.], nonconformist minister, on 29 May 1697, having previously refused to marry three several churchmen, whose initials are given, because 'she could not be easy in their communion.'

Mrs. Bury was mistress of a good estate, and was described as 'a great benefactrix' (ib. 6). She kept a stock of bibles and practical books, to be distributed as she should see occasion (Ballard's British Ladies, p. 425); her knowledge of the materia medica was surprising (ib. 424); 'her gift in prayer was very extraordinary' (Account, 36); and 'she had a motto written up in her closet in Hebrew, "Thou, Lord, seest me," … to keep her heart from trifling.' She became infirm after 1712, and died 8 May 1720, aged 76. Mr. Bury gave the fullest testimony to his wife's deep learning and unfailing excellences. Dr. Watts described her as 'a pattern for the sex in ages yet unborn.' Her funeral sermon was preached at Bristol on 22 May 1720 by the Rev. William Tong, and was printed at Bristol the same year; a third edition was reached the next year, 1721. 'The Account of the Life and Death of Mrs. Bury,' Bristol, 1720, included the extant portions of her diary, the funeral sermon, a life by her husband, and an elegy by Dr. Watts.

[Account of the Life and Death of Mrs. Elizabeth Bury, chiefly collected out of her own Diary, with Funeral Sermon, &c., Bristol, 1720; Ballard's British Ladies, pp. 262, 321, 424 et. seq.]

J. H.