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Philetus Roberts. Memoir of Mrs. Abigail Roberts (Irvington, N.J., 1858), frontispiece.

ABIGAIL ROBERTS (1791 - 1841)

Though she joined the Presbyterian Church, Abigail Roberts, a native New Yorker and wife of Nathan Roberts, attended Friends (Quaker) meetings. In 1814, she was inspired to preach by Nancy Gove Cram, a female preacher of the Free-Will Baptist Church. Ultimately, Roberts became affiliated with the Christian Connection Church, a group which had been ordaining women since 1810 and discouraged denominational distinctions. Her work as a preacher in New York and New Jersey led to many conversions.

Though only a child during Roberts’s early career, Philetus Roberts, Mrs. Roberts’s son, recalls in her memoir the frequent persecution she faced from people in other denominations that did not approve of women preaching:

“The societies near by, finding that such persons were not disposed to join with them, commenced at once a bitter opposition to Mrs. Roberts and the work of which she was the instrument.

The ministers of the different churches found out all at once that her views were heretical, and would destroy all who embraced them.… She would often attend the meetings of other denominations, and would sometimes hear the professed minister of Christ denounce her, calling her a deceiver, and, at the same time, would unblushingly falsify and misrepresent her views.” (p. 80)



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