Wolverhampton BTW

Martha Yeardley

Yeardley, Martha née Savory, 1781—1851

by Benjamin Colbert

Martha Savory Yeardley was born on 8 March 1781, the daughter of Joseph Savory, a Quaker goldsmith of London, and Anna Savory (d. c.1785). She was one of four, with a brother and two sisters. After the death of their mother, her father married Mary Pryor, who bore him three more daughters. However, the two families were raised in separate households, Martha Savory and her siblings residing at Pentonville across the street from Charles Lamb, who admired the eldest, Hester Savory (d. 1803), and memorialised her in verse. Martha Savory herself was a poet, publishing her first book, Inspiration, a Poetical Essay, with J. and A. Arch in 1805. Poetical Tales Founded on Facts (1808), followed, reissued as Pathetic Tales in 1813.

Sometime before Martha Savory met her husband-to-be, the Quaker minister John Yeardley (1786-1858; ODNB), she appears to have herself embraced the Quaker ministry and undertaken ‘gospel tours’ on the continent. In 1824 she met Yeardley during one such tour and they travelled together to Germany, Switzerland, and France, returning to England where they were married in December 1826. They made a second tour through Germany and Switzerland in 1827-28, continuing their work establishing schools and meetings. On their return, they travelled through England and Wales in 1828 to 1833, before a third Continental journey from 1833 to 1834, this time to Greece, followed by their joint publication of Extracts from the Letters in 1835. A fourth (1842-43) and fifth (1843-50) tour to the regions of their first together followed and during these years Martha Yeardley continued to publish her poetry (e.g. True Tales from Foreign Lands. In Verse. Designed for the Young [London: Darton and Clark, 1835?]) and joint works with her husband (e.g. Eastern Customs; Illustrative of Scripture Passages: with Some Observations on the Character, Manners, &c. of the Greeks [London: Harvey and Darton, 1842]).

Martha Yeardley died after a long illness on 8 May 1851 and was buried at Stoke Newington, Middlesex.


Courteney, Winifred E. Young Charles Lamb, 1775-1802. New York: NYU Press, 1983. 230-34. Print.

Fell-Smith, Charlotte, and H. C. G. Matthew. 'Yeardley, John (1786–1858), missionary'. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. 23 Sept. 2004. Oxford University Press. Web. 30 Nov. 2017. https://doi.org/10.1093/ref:odnb/30205

Jackson, J. R. de J. Romantic Poetry by Women: a Bibliography. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993. 288. Print.

Powell, Walter. ‘Hester Savory’. Manchester Times, no. 1745 (Fri., 9 Jan. 1891). Gale Databases: British Library Newspapers, Part I: 1800-1900. Web. 8 Sept. 2017.

Yeardley, John. Memoir and Diary of John Yeardley, Minister of the Gospel. Ed. Charles Tylor. Philadelphia: Henry Longstreeth, 1860. Print.


Title Published
Extracts from the Letters of John and Martha Yeardley 1835

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