Jebb, John and Ann


Ann Jebb (1735-1812) was married to John Jebb (1736-86), who became a fellow of Peterhouse College, Cambridge, in 1760 and a religious and political reformer during the 1770s and '80s. Upon his marriage to Ann Torkington in 1764, he relinquished his fellowship but remained a tutor at the college. By the 1770s Jebb had become a Socinian, and his lectures were forbidden by some of the Cambridge colleges. His pamphlet, A Short Account of Theological Lectures (1770) argued for the right of private judgment in matters of theology. He joined with Theophilus Lindsey and Francis Blackburne in forming the Feathers Tavern Petition in 1772 to end subscription to the 39 Articles for Anglican clergy. Opposition to Jebb's views were substantial, and he resigned from Cambridge in 1776, completed his studies in medicine, and opened what would become a successful medical practice in London in 1777, continuing his advocacy of political and religious reform and opposition to the war with the American colonies through his prominent role in founding the Society for Promoting Constitution Information in 1780 (the same year he was admitted as a solicitor at Lincoln's Inn) and the Society for Promoting the Knowledge of the Scriptures in 1783. During these years he attended the Essex Street Chapel led by Lindsey, and promoted the work of Joseph Priestley. Ann Jebb was the daughter of the Revd James Torkington of Little Stukely, Huntingdonshire, and Lady Dorothy Sherard, daughter of Philip, second earl of Harborough. Like her husband, she was an ardent political reformer and writer, contributing a series of letters to the editor of the London Chronicle during 1772-74 under the nom de plume Priscilla. In London she too was active in opposition to the war with America and easing or eliminating legal restrictions against Roman Catholics. After her husband's death, Ann Jebb remained a vibrant part of his circle of reformers and Unitarians, which helps explain Hays's introduction to her through Disney. She lived in Half-Moon Street in London, and never bore any children. She and her husband were buried in the Dissenter's burial ground at Bunhill Fields.