The little known story of Spurgeon's preacher sister

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Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the world famous Baptist preacher, had a sister who was also a popular preacher in her day. This is the story...

The Spurgeon Family

The Spurgeon family were a strongly non-conformist family from Essex in England. Rev John Spurgeon (1810-1902) worked as head clerk in a coal, and shipping office, whilst also being pastor of Tollesbury Independent church in Essex. He and his wife Eliza Spurgeon had 17 children. The eldest child was Charles Haddon Spurgeon born in Essex in 1832. He was one of only two sons to reach adulthood, but six sisters survived into adulthood. The eldest daughter was Eliza Rebecca Spurgeon, born 19th January 1836. About 1840, Charles Haddon Spurgeon and the family were living in Colchester.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Visiting different churches in Colchester, Charles Haddon Spurgeon was converted after hearing a sermon at Artillery Street Primitive Methodist church (now called Artillery Street Evangelical church) in Colchester in January 1850. That evening he worshipped at Eld Lane Baptist Chapel in Colchester (now called Colchester Baptist church), where he was impressed by Rev Robert Langford. He then recommended that church to his family and they became part of the fellowship. In 1851, Charles Haddon Spurgeon became pastor of Waterbeach Baptist Church near Cambridge.

Mrs Jackson

Meanwhile members of the Spurgeon family remained at Eld Lane Baptist church in Colchester. In 1856, when the pastor Rev Robert Langford needed help, a co-pastor called Rev William Jackson, was appointed. During his time at the church, Rev William Jackson became friends with the Spurgeon family and courted Miss Eliza Rebecca Spurgeon. In 1859, Jackson resigned, to pastor Salem Baptist Chapel at Bilston, near Wolverhampton (now called Bilston Baptist church). In December 1859, Rev William Jackson married Eliza Rebecca Spurgeon, with the ceremony conducted by her brother Charles Haddon Spurgeon, and they settled at Bilston. In June 1867, Rev William Jackson left Bilston to became pastor of Cambray Baptist Chapel in Cheltenham.

Mrs Jackson – the preacher

In mid 1872, William and Eliza Rebecca Jackson moved to Willingham Baptist church near St Ives in Cambridgeshire around 12 miles northwest of Cambridge. It was shortly after their arrival that Mrs Jackson started preaching at Willingham and drew great crowds. Newspapers started to report it in early November 1872. The London Echo reported that "a sister of Mr Spurgeon's is preaching with great success at Willingham, in Cambridgeshire, where her husband is a Baptist minister".

At this time there were very few female preachers, then known as "lady preachers". Newspaper reports from the time show them attracting great congregations because of the novelty of hearing a woman preach. In the 1870s, most of the lady preachers were from the Primitive Methodists, continuing a practice allowed by John Wesley, but lady preachers in the Baptist movement were rare, although not unknown, and not forbidden.


Following her success speaking at Willingham, Mrs Jackson got invitations to speak at other Baptist churches in the Cambridge and Ely area. According to one report, "Mrs. Jackson has a mellow voice, which she modulates with ease and grace, with occasional flights of quiet eloquence." In 1874, some newspaper reports called her "the queen of preachers".

Her brother Charles Haddon Spurgeon knew she was preaching, but his private thoughts on the idea of his sister being a preacher are not clear. Whatever his opinion, it did not stop him coming to visit his sister, and he came as a guest preacher at the churches where his brother-in-law Rev William Jackson was pastor.

Waltham Cross

In October 1876, William Jackson moved to become pastor of the Paradise Row Baptist Chapel in Waltham Abbey (now called Waltham Abbey Baptist Church) in Essex. Again, Mrs Jackson preached at this church.

Mrs Jackson got many requests to preach, and she was invited to speak at Baptist churches across England and south Wales. Sometimes she would stay all day and take the morning, afternoon and evening services at the same church. Crowds came to hear her and chapels were full, drawn by the chance to see a lady preacher but also one who happened to be Charles Haddon Spurgeon's sister. As well doing expository preaching from the Bible, she also had lectures on different subjects at mid-week meetings and groups. Most of the newspaper reports are very favourable.

Moving to London

Rev William Jackson remained pastor at Waltham Abbey, until he died there in 1892, aged 62, and he was buried at Waltham Cross.


After being widowed, Mrs Jackson went to live with one of her sons in Edmonton, and later moved to Tottenham in north London. She attended Northumberland Park Primitive Methodist church (now Calvary Church of Godin Christ, Tottenham), but continued to preach in Baptist churches.

She died in Tottenham in 1914 aged 78. During her life, she was associated with the British Women's Temperance Association (now called the White Ribbon Association), the Sunday School Union and Girls' Clubs. In one obituary it said she was "an able speaker and preacher, being well known in the denomination". Another paper wrote, "She was the eldest sister of C.H. Spurgeon, and had all his rare gifts of speech and humour and his qualities of heart."

Whilst Charles Haddon Spurgeon is still famous today, the story of his sister seems to be little known.