Sarah Hussey Earle

Courtesy Albert B. Southwick

Quaker Sarah Hussey Earle (August 26, 1799 - March 9,1858), wife of Worcester Spy publisher John Milton Earle, helped organize the Worcester Anti-Slavery Sewing Circle and Worcester County Anti-Slavery Society, South Division. She probably was in the audience at William Lloyd Garrison’s speech in 1832.

Sarah Hussey was the daughter of Tristram Hussey and Sarah Folger of Nantucket, MA. Lucretia Mott was her cousin. Sarah married John Milton Earle June 6, 1821 in Nantucket, MA before moving to Worcester, MA. The family lived on Nobility Hill at 262 Main Street across from the Worcester Common.

She was a member Worcester Anti-Slavery Sewing Circle and served on the Executive Committee of Worcester County Anti-Slavery Society, South Division, 1841-1859. She helped coordinate Anti Slavery fairs from 1848 and opened the 1850 National Woman’s Rights Convention. Two African Americans born in Massachusetts, Catherine Gardner (22 years old) and Cynthia Gardner (20 years old), lived with the family according to the 1850 Census. Her obituary notice in the Worcester Spy said, "Aside from her own family circle, no one has cause to mourn more deeply than the slave, for whose interests her labors were untiring."

John Milton Earle (April 13, 1794 – February 8, 1874) was born in Leicester, MA and educated in common schools and Leicester Academy. He was the editor and publisher of the Massachusetts Spy from 1823-1857 [called the Daily Spy after July 22, 1845]. The offices were in the Butman Block on Main Street. He loved and enjoyed the sharp encounter of harmless wit. Although not a technical Garrisonian abolitionist, he was an early pioneer in Anti-Slavery movement first as a Whig, then as a Free Soiler. He tried to make Worcester County the stronghold of conscientious and determined political opposition to slavery. He served as Representative to the General Court in 1844-6 and 1850-2. He was elected to the State Senate in 1858. He was also a city alderman, postmaster, state commissioner on Indian affairs, and founder of the Horticultural Society. The family is buried in Rural Cemetery in Worcester, MA.


1. Elizabeth (May 4,1824 - January 13,1858) was a member of the 1850 convention and a member of the Worcester Anti-Slavery Sewing Circle.

2. Catharine (January 24, 1828 – February 12, 1874) married Moses Farnum of Waterford, CT on August 11, 1852. He was a cashier of Worcester County National Bank. After their children were born, they moved to Boston.

3. Martha B. (December 28, 1829 -) also was a member of the 1850 convention and the Worcester Anti-Slavery Sewing Circle. She attended Worcester’s Classical and English High School before 1849 and taught English from February-June 1853. She earned $150 a year as an assistant teacher at the Pleasant Street School. On June 3, 1857, she married Henry Earle, a distant cousin, and they moved to Germantown, PA.

4. Sarah Folger Earle (December 8, 1831 – 1921) attended the convention, but was not a voting member. She attended Worcester’s Classical and English High School before 1849. She was possibly the first assistant to the principal of the new Ash Street School in 1850, and taught at Thomas Street in Worcester. She graduated from Framingham Normal School in February. Sarah was one of the first women to be in government service in Worcester County when she acted as clerk to her father, the Postmaster during the Civil War. She was one of the first assistants and catalogers at the Worcester Public Library, remaining there for about 20 years. She traveled throughout Europe and America and died in Daytona, FL of old age.

5. Pliny (July 21, 1834 -) attended school in 1850 and was unmarried in 1888 living in Leicester.

6. Francis C. (April 2, 1840-) also attended school and was unmarried in 1888 living in Philadelphia.


Earle, Pliny, comp. The Earle Family Ralph Earle and his descendants. Worcester: Press of Charles Hamilton, 1888. (Worcester Public Library)

Earle, Pliny. Memoirs of Pliny Earle, M.D. Boston: Damrell & Upham, 1898.

Isenberg, Nancy. Sex & Citizenship in Antebellum America. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1998.

Lawes, Carolyn J. Women and Reform in a New England Community, 1815-1860. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2000.

Roe, Alfred S. Worcester Classical and English High School: A record of forty-seven years. Worcester: Alfred S. Roe, 1892.

Southwick, Albert B., ed The Journals of Stephen C Earle, 1853-1858. Worcester: Worcester Bicentennial Commission, 1976.

Worcester Anti-Slavery Sewing Circle Record Book, 1840-1865. Worcester Historical Museum.

Courtesy of the American Antiquarian Society