Known to her followers as "Mother Ann," this English-born woman led a prominent New York group of Shakers (also called the United Society of Believers in Christ's Second Appearing) during the late eighteenth century.
In the late 1750s, she was introduced to Shaker ideals through joining a related religious sect founded by James and Jane Wardley. In 1774, she relocated to the United States, where she attracted a devoted following and built a Shaker community.
She and her fellow Shakers were devoted to the pursuit of personal perfection through celibacy and to worship that involved dancing or "shaking."
She was born in Manchester, England, to Quaker parents. Despite her aversion to intimate relations -- a view supported by her Shaker faith -- she was forced into marriage by her family, and she gave birth to four children, all of whom died in infancy.
She makes an appearance in writer John Fowles' 1985 historical fiction work A Maggot, which focuses on the origins of the United Society of Believers in Christ's Second Appearing.