Southcott, Joanna

Southcott, Joanna southˈkət [key], 1750–1814, English religious visionary. Uneducated, even illiterate, she spent her earlier years in domestic service. She began c.1792 to claim the gift of prophecy; her “revelations” attracted many followers. Later she announced that, as the woman in Revelation 12, she would be the mother of the coming Messiah. Soon after the time she had set for the birth of the “second Shiloh,” she died of brain disease, at the age of 64. Her followers continued to study the 60 or more tracts and books of her writing; the sect never completely died out. She left a locked box with instructions that it be opened only in the presence of all the bishops at a time of national crisis. In 1928, a box alleged to be hers was opened when one bishop agreed to be present; it revealed nothing of interest. Among her books is The Strange Effects of Faith (2 vol., 1801–2).

See G. R. Balleine, Past Finding Out (1956).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2023, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Protestant Christianity: Biographies