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Penelope Goulding Coke (1762-1811)

Penelope Goulding Coke was born at Bradford in Wiltshire, the daughter of an attorney Joseph Smith. Her father in addition to his normal legal duties, acted as estate steward to the Duchess of Kingston and latterly, Earl Manvers.

Penelope was educated at a foreign boarding school but had to be removed on the grounds of the weak health which plagued her for much of her life.

Raised in the Church of England, she was converted as a young woman through the influence of her uncle Mr Gwyer, a Methodist local preacher from Bristol. She started to attend Methodist worship in Bradford, despite the mild opposition of her father, and henceforth lived a life of seclusion, reading and meditation on spiritual matters. This retirement from public life deepened when her father was struck with paralysis and was nursed by his daughter during the last five years of his life. Penelope was also a keen visitor of the sick and distressed in the neighbourhood, and was a keen distributor of pious tracts.

In 1805 she married the prominent Methodist minister Dr Thomas Coke. Almost immediately after their marriage, the couple embarked on an itinerant lifestyle devoted to carrying out God's work. Their extensive travels included visits to Ireland.

Penelope's health progressively weakened and she died on January 25 1811.

Source: Arminian Magazine 1812, pp.120-134, 211-225

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