Susanna Skidmore was born sometime in the 1600s in Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire, England. Her father, Henry Skidmore, was a tallow chandler (candlestick maker) like his father before him. According to Emily Cockayne in the book Hubbub: Filth, Noise and Stench in England 1660-1770, the trade of tallow chandler was “notoriously dirty and unpleasant.” Tallow was the inedible rendered fat of beef or mutton, and candles made of such were inexpensive and of equal cheap quality.
When she was grown, Susanna married Samuel Partridge, also of Rickmansworth. The marriage was short-lived. Samuel died nine months after the wedding. There were no children.
At some point Susanna made her way to London. Whether this was with her husband or after is unknown. It is also unknown when she became acquainted with Particular Baptists. It is known, though, that Benjamin Keach was in London by 1668, and that his dear wife Jane passed away in 1670. What Susanna and Benjamin’s romance entailed (if anything) will have to be for now imagined, but the widow and the widower were providentially brought together.
In 1672, Susanna and Benjamin were married. By this time Keach had become a Calvinist and was acquainted with Particular Baptists. Hanserd Knollys, a friend of Benjamin’s, officiated the wedding. His wife Anne had died the year before, but one wonders if she knew Susanna and how much interaction they had with each other.
Later that year, Benjamin and the church he pastored set up at Horsleydown, London, which grew into a large congregation. He was a major influence and voice for Particular Baptists. Together Susanna and Benjamin had five daughters: Elizabeth, Susanna, two named Rachel, and Rebekah. Elizabeth married Thomas Stinton in 1690. Susanna the daughter married Benjamin Stinton (Thomas’ brother) in 1699. Rebekah married Thomas Crosby, a Baptist historian.
Susanna and Benjamin Keach were married thirty-two years until Benjamin’s death in 1704. Son-in-law Benjamin Stinton became the next pastor at Horsleydown, and Susanna lived with her daughter Rebekah and son-in-law Thomas Crosby. Thankfully Crosby saw fit to put some description of her in his History of English Calvinistic Baptists:
She was a woman of extraordinary piety, who had a good report of all; a most tender mother, and grandmother, and if the exceeded due bounds in any thing, it was in her love and tenderness towards her children and grandchildren. She lived with me many years, and during the time I was acquainted with her, which was near the last twenty years of her life, I must say, That she walked before God in truth, and with a perfect heart, and did that which was good in his sight. She lived in peace, without spot and blameless. Her eyes were turned away from beholding vanity, and her hands were stretched out, according to her ability, to the poor and needy. Her cloathing was humility, and her ornaments, a meek and quiet spirit. Her conversation was upright, as became the gospel, without covetousness, honest, holy, and heavenly. She, according to God’s promise, looked for new heavens, and a new earth, to things not seen, and to things that are eternal. Her confidence was not in the flesh; her rejoicing was in Christ, and Christ was her all. In her dying moments, so much chearfulness, and readiness to depart appeared, as made a reverend minister present, wish, that some Atheist, or Deist were by, to see the comfort she enjoyed, and the quiet resignation of her self to the will of God; and such was her desire to depart, that she desired him to pray; but not for the continuance of her life.
Susanna died in February 1727.
Cockayne, Emily. Hubbub: Filth, Noise and Stench in England 1660-1770
Crosby, Thomas. History of the English Baptists Vol.4
Hicks, Tom. The Evangelical Convictions of Benjamin Keach.
Ried, Adam A. http://www.biblicalstudies.org.uk/pdf/bq/10-2_067.pdf
Skidmore, Warren. http://www.skidmoregenealogy.com/images/OccPap_no._27_20080202.pdf