The Women Behind the 1689: Susanna Skidmore Partridge Keach

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.

George_Mosson_Tulpenvase_1912

“George Mosson Tulpenvase 1912” by Mosson, George

Sources:

Cockayne, Emily. Hubbub: Filth, Noise and Stench in England 1660-1770

Crosby, Thomas. History of the English Baptists Vol.4

Haykin, Michael. The Reflections of a Puritan Theologian on Regeneration and Conversion.

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

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5 thoughts on “The Women Behind the 1689: Susanna Skidmore Partridge Keach

    • Thank you for the link to Rider’s book. I look forward to reading it!

      I see how my statement was confusing. There seems to be some mystery concerning the degree of association between the Tooley Street church (pastored by Rider, then Keach) with the Horsleydown church. According to the “Baptist Quarterly” in 1940,”It is certain that at this time [becoming a Calvinist] Keach quitted the church which ordained him, and, taking a few attached converts, he founded another in Goat Yard.” Michael Haykin, in the article I referenced in the blog post, appears to concur with this: “In the same year of his marriage, Keach and a few like-minded individuals, possibly former members of the General Baptist cause on Tooley Street, began a Calvinistic Baptist work in Horselydown, Southwark. A meeting house was eventually erected, which, after a number of additions over the years, could hold about a thousand people.”

      However, Thomas Crosby in his History of the English Baptists writes that Keach was ordained by the Tooley Street church in 1668,and that the church met in a private house until the Horsleydown meeting house was built. He states, “with this people did he continue to the end of his days.” Steve Weaver also seems to take this view in an article for Credo Magazine: “Keach soon began to lead a congregation of General Baptists meeting in a house on Tooley Street in Southwark, London (south of the Thames River). This group of believers would eventually organize themselves into a church meeting in Horsley-down.”

      I have edited my original sentence to acknowledge that Keach was pastoring a church that then built at Horsleydown. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

  1. This is great! I’m glad someone has taken the task of compiling this info into such a great and readable article. May God bless you.

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