Minister, writer. Sophia Hume was born to a wealthy Charleston couple, Henry Wigington and Susanna Bayley. Though her maternal grandmother, Mary Fisher, was a well-known Quaker minister, Hume was raised in the Anglican faith of her father and did not embrace Quakerism until midlife. She lived as a typical young Charleston belle, displaying her fine clothes and jewelry at balls, the theater, and other social functions. On June 15, 1721, she married the Charleston attorney Robert Hume. The marriage produced two children before Robert’s death in 1737.
Around 1740 Hume, now a widow and extremely ill, reexamined her Anglican faith as well as her life of luxury. She embraced a life of simplicity, moved to London, and joined the Society of Friends. Hume returned to Charleston in late 1747, convinced of the need to warn her neighbors and others of their erring ways. She spent the rest of her life inspiring others through her religious writings and dedication to the Quaker faith. Hume spoke at public meetings and helped revitalize a small Quaker community in Charleston. However, her call to exchange luxury for simplicity fell largely on deaf ears in the port city. In 1748 she traveled to Philadelphia, where she published An Exhortation to the Inhabitants of the Province of South-Carolina (1748), in which she defended her theological views and her conversion. To broaden the appeal of her message, Hume used biblical as well as Quaker and non-Quaker religious writers as her sources. She returned to London, where for the next twenty years she continued to write and gain stature in the English Quaker community.
She visited Charleston again in 1767 in an attempt to reinvigorate the moribund Quaker community but achieved little before ill health forced her return to London the following year.
Hume wrote several religious treatises: An Epistle to the Inhabitants of South Carolina (1754), A Caution to Such as Observe Days and Times (ca. 1763), A Short Appeal to Men and Women of Reason (1765), Extracts from Divers Ancient Testimonies (1766), The Justly Celebrated Mrs. Sophia Hume’s Advice and Warning to Labourers (1769). Her writings augmented her preaching, as she continually struggled to reconcile traditional gender expectations with her own career and public visibility. She died in London on January 26, 1774, and was buried in Friends’ Burial Ground near Bunhill Field.
Hume, Sophia. An Exhortation to the Inhabitants of the Province of South-Carolina, to Bring Their Deeds to the Light of Christ, in Their Own Consciences. Philadelphia: William Bradford, .
———. Papers. Department of Records, Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, Philadelphia.