Elizabeth Bradley

by Jim Sherlock

RS Pres

Elizabeth Fowkes was born into the church (her father having been baptised during the time of Heber C. Kimball’s mission to Britain), but was only baptised in 1896, in her late thirties. Growing up in Burton on Trent, she moved to Derby in her twenties where she met and married George Bradley. Over the following years she brought her husband and her family of four boys and one girl into the Church.

The Relief Society was first organized in Derby branch in 1910 and Elizabeth Bradley was set apart as President by Apostle Charles W. Penrose. She would serve as the Derby Branch Relief Society President for thirty-six years – through two world wars and the great depression, as well as the ‘Roaring Twenties’.

Elizabeth’s life was not an easy one. In 1910 her son John and daughter Lizzie announced their plans to ‘go to Zion’. Then in May 1916, her son George announced that he was joining the army to fight in France. In January 1918, he died as he was returning home on leave, one of the early victims of the Spanish Flu. He was just 28 years old. Then Elizabeth’s son Wilfred died in January 1929. He was only 35 years old. In September of the same year her husband passed away at the age of 75.

It would later be reported of her:

But for all that, she bears a deep and convincing testimony that her life in the Church has been rich with blessings and happiness.  Her life reveals a splendid example of what a Relief Society president and a Latter-day Saint should be.[i]

In 1935 the Derby branch celebrated a double Jubilee – the 25th year of the reign of George V, and 25 years that Elizabeth had served as Relief Society President. It was also her 78th birthday. This made her the oldest president in the British mission of a branch of the oldest auxiliary organization of the Church.

In 1946, Elizabeth was finally released from her position as the president of the Relief Society. She was eighty-nine years old. She lived until April 1952 and died at the age of 95

[i] Jubilee and Anniversary in Derby.  Rhoda S. Tinson, and R. S. B. Millennial Star, 1935