Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Janet Erskine Stuart 1857 -1914

In November 1857 a new baby, Janet Erskine Stuart, was born at the Rectory in Cottesmore, the thirteenth child of the  Rev the Hon. Andrew Stuart. Her mother was his second wife Mary Penelope Noel, a close relative of Lord Gainsborough. One of Janet's brothers was to become the sixth Earl of Castle Stewart.  However Janet was destined to greater fame and influence in another realm.  As a child she lived in a privileged household and travelled in Europe and over the years had both Swiss and German governesses.

As a young girl she moved away from the Church of England and by the age of 22 had become a catholic soon to become a nun in the Society of the Sacred Heart at Roehampton.  It was here that her immense talents were recognised and she soon became the assistant to the Mother Superior Reverend Mother Digby. In a few years she had written a number of books, mainly on education, and on the election of Mother Digby to  Superior General in Belgium she become the Mother Superior at Roehampton.

With Mother Digby she travelled to Canada and the USA and her talents were recognised all over the world. On the death of Mother Digby in 1911 Mother Janet became the Superior General, the head of the whole Society of the Sacred Heart. Again Janet Stuart travelled the world but this time as the head of the Sacred Heart. All over the world you can see the remains of her work with schools and convents formed in every continent. She died in 1914 and is buried in Roehampton. One sad feature of her life was when she became a Roman Catholic she was no longer welcome to stay at the Rectory and never did.

A remarkable woman who led a remarkable life during remarkable times. A girl from a small village in a small county who was to encompass the world with her teachings and devotion, a lady who changes the lives of many and helped open the educational door for women.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Ron Just a quick note to thank you very much for the CD of Rev A G Stuart's sermons. I look forward to your new edition of the booklet about Mother Stuart (just as an aside, she should be referred to in the booklet at 'Mother' Stuart, really, not 'Sister' as you had it in the previous edition). Thank you also for kindly showing us around Cottesmore church. Do get in touch if you would like to come visit the Sacred Heart archives! You can reach me at, or on 0208 876 9880. - All the best, Barbara (Provincial Archivist)