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Mary O'Bryan (1807-83)

Mary O'Bryan was the daughter of William O'Bryan, founder of the Bible Christian Connexion. She received a good education and learned to speak French fluently. At the age of eleven, she was called on to expound the doctrine at a house she was visiting and became one of her father's itinerant preachers at the age of sixteen.

O'Bryan served initially in London and Kent before being stationed in the Channel Islands, where she was known as the 'Maiden preacher'. In 1824 she was moved to the Isle of Wight and opened a mission in Portsmouth.

In 1825 O'Bryan was married to Samuel Thorne (d.1873), one of the earliest members of the Connexion. They settled at Lake Farm, Shebbear in Devon, where they established a school that evolved into Shebbear College. They remained very active in Connexional affairs and had a particular interest in printing. Although she was no longer an itinerant, she continued to preach locally.

Source: Dictionary of Evangelical Biography 1739-1860 edited by Donald M. Lewis (1995), Thomas Shaw, A History of Cornish Methodism (1967), and S. L. Thorne, Samuel Thorne, Printer (1875)

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