Routh, Martha (DNB00)

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ROUTH, Mrs. MARTHA (1743–1817), quakeress, youngest child of Henry and Jane Winter of Stourbridge, Worcestershire, was born there on 25 June 1743, and early adopted the dress and bearing of the quakers. At seventeen she became teacher in a Friends' boarding-school at Nottingham, and at the age of twenty-four succeeded to the post of principal. After a mental struggle she first preached four years later, and was ‘acknowledged a minister’ in 1773. She married Richard Routh of Manchester on 7 Aug. 1776 at Nottingham, relinquished her school, and devoted herself to the ministry. Before 1787 she travelled through Wales, Scotland, the north of England, and to the Land's End. Two years after she passed six months in Ireland. On 21 July 1794 she embarked from London on a protracted missionary tour to America. Not content with visiting all places inhabited by Friends in the New England states, she travelled through Virginia and North Carolina, crossed the Alleghany mountains, and traversed parts of Ohio and Kansas. In little over three years, she says, she travelled eleven thousand miles, and never failed at a single appointed meeting, although the difficulties of crossing rivers and driving over rough unbroken country severely tried her strength.

On the voyage home in the winter of 1797, the ship was boarded by French privateers. In 1804, after sixty-six days' passage, she again reached New York with her husband. The latter died there shortly afterwards, and at the end of a year Mrs. Routh returned to England. Her last journeys were made in 1808 and 1809, through Wales, Somerset, and the northern counties of England. She still preached with power. After attending the yearly meeting in London, she died at Simon Bailey's house in Spitalfields on 18 July 1817, and was buried at Bunhill Fields.

Martha Routh edited ‘Some Account of a Divine Manifestation’ in Christopher Taylor's school at Waltham Abbey, Essex; Philadelphia, 1797, 8vo (reprinted, London, 1799, 12mo). In her seventy-first year she commenced to write her journal, portions of which, with a memoir, were published at York in 1822, 12mo (2nd ed. 1824; reprinted in vol. xii. of the ‘Friends' Library,’ Philadelphia, 1848).

[Memoir above mentioned; Smith's Catalogue, ii. 513.]

C. F. S.