on 21st May, 1780 in Norwich
When her mother died, Elizabeth
was only twelve years old but as one of the eldest girls, was expected to help bring up her younger
brothers and sisters.
After meeting William Savery (the
Quaker Minister), Elizabeth decided to devote her energies to helping those in need. Over the next
few years she collected old clothes for the poor, visited the sick and and set up a Sunday School in
her house where she taught local children to read.
In July 1799, Elizabeth was
introduced to Joseph Fry, the son of a successful merchant from Essex. Fry was also a Quaker and the
two married on 19th August 1800.
1813 a friend of the Fry family, Stephen Grellet, visited Newgate Prison.
When Grellet told Elizabeth Fry about the way women were treated in Newgate, she decided that she
must visit the prison. Fry discovered 300 women and their children, huddled together in two wards
and two cells.
Elizabeth combined prison
visiting with her role as wife and mother. Three more children were born over the next few years and
she also had to endure the pain of the death of her five year old daughter, Betsy. In 1817 Elizabeth
Fry and eleven other Quakers, formed the Association for the Improvement of the Female Prisoners in
Elizabeth Fry was invited to give evidence
to a House of Commons Committee on London Prisons. She told them how women slept thirty to a room in
Newgate Prison, "each with a space of about six feet by two to herself".
As a result of the legislation introduced by
Peel, there were regular visits from prison chaplains, gaolers were paid (before they were dependent
on fees from the prisoners) and women warders were put in charge of women prisoners.
By the 1820s Elizabeth Fry had
become a well-known personality in Britain.
Fry also became concerned about the
quality of nursing staff. In 1840 she started a training school for nurses in Guy's Hospital. Fry
nurses wore their own uniform and were expected to tend to their patients spiritual, as well as
their physical needs.
short illness, Elizabeth Fry
died on 12th October, 1845. Although Quakers do not have a funeral service, over a thousand people
stood in silence as she was buried at the Society of Friend's graveyard at Barking.
died on 12th October, 1845