Lee, Ann

Lee, Ann, 1736–84, English religious visionary, founder of the Shakers in America. Born in Manchester, she worked there in the cotton factories and then became a cook. In 1762 she was married to Abraham Stanley, a blacksmith. In 1758 she had joined the “Shaking Quakers.” Claiming revelation in a vision (c.1770) that the second coming of Christ was fulfilled in her, she became their accepted leader and was known as Ann the Word or Mother Ann. Although illiterate, she claimed the gift of tongues and the ability to discern spirits and work miracles. She was also convinced of the holiness of celibacy. In 1774 she led a band of eight to America, where, two years later, at Watervliet, N.Y., the first Shaker settlement in America was founded.

See biography by R. Francis (2001).

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