The letters and papers of Lady Powerscourt

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Chapter Two. 217 pages
ISBN 1 85307 170 6

Theodosia Anne Howard lived at the beginning of the 19th century in rural Co. Wicklow. Saved at 19, she was both an aristocrat and an evangelical. Widowed during her first year of marriage, her daughter is believed to have died in infancy.

The parish in which she lived contained a high concentration of Protestant gentry amongst whom evangelicalism was a growing force. She hosted the Powerscourt Conferences here, where evangelicals met to discuss theological issues. Preoccupation with issues such as eschatology (which many felt were at the expense of evangelism) led to increasing tension among the participants, eventually resulting in separation. Lady Powerscourt aligned herself with the new and emerging Brethren movement.

Even to those who would find some of her persuasions misguided, contained within her many letters and various papers is evidence of a deeply devotional walk with the Lord. Her letters are especially moving when addressed to fellow mourners as she seeks to point them to the Father who has comforted her. She also displays a keen and intelligent mind as she enthusiastically grapples with theological issues.

This is not an easy read, however. Her language is often flowery and laboriou,s with little reference to her own life. I longed to know more about her as a woman and to whom the various letters were addressed. Consequently I’m not convinced this volume will appeal to many, although a biography of her life with some of her writings inserted would probably be a fascinating read.

Jane McNabb,
The Slade Evangelical Church FIEC, Plumstead, SE London