Prison Reformer

Elizabeth Fry was a Quaker prison reformer who transformed the lives of countless thousands of prisoners, convicts and homeless people, and whose ideas on criminal justice are still practised today.

Born into the wealthy Quaker Gurney family at Earlham, Norfolk in 1780 she was a sensitive child, traumatised by the death of her mother when she was 12. As a teenager she was a religious sceptic, but hearing the ministry of American Quaker William Savery transformed her outlook. Elizabeth went on to develop a profound Christian spirituality which gave an extraordinary power to her life. She married the Quaker banker Joseph Fry at the age of 18 and they had 11 children. Joseph was to prove a supportive husband when her faith often took her away from home to work wonders in the world.