"Motherhood is in itself a profession." In this favourite saying of Mrs. Creighton we at once strike the keynote of the character of one who has been described as the most notable of prominent church-women.
Mrs. Creighton places true domesticity before everything else in a woman's life, and for many years past she has been an enthusiastic advocate and supporter of movements which have for their object the elevating and improvement of British homes.
Not that she has confined her attention solely to such work. In fact, she has been a prominent figure in a hundred-and-one different organisations - notably the Girls' Friendly Society, that splendid movement which has banded together in one society women and girls as associates and members for mutual help (religious and secular), for sympathy and prayer, and endeavoured to encourage purity of life, dutifulness to parents, faithfulness to employers, temperance, and thrift ; and the National Union of Women Workers, of which Mrs. Creighton was at one time president, the object of which union is to promote the social, civil, moral, and religious welfare of women, and to assist them generally in their daily work.
But the fact must be repeated that it is the lessons of motherhood and wifely duty which
Mrs. Creighton has endeavoured to impress chiefly for many years past upon the women of this country. And it was because she recognised how largely the Britain of tomorrow depends upon the children of to-day that Mrs. Creighton - when her husband, the late Bishop of London, who died in 1901, was Canon of Worcester and Bishop of Peterborough - helped to found the Mothers' Union, an organisation which aims at upholding the sanctity of marriage, awakening in mothers of all classes a sense of their great responsibility as mothers in the training of their boys and girls (the future fathers and mothers of the Empire), and organising in every place a band of mothers who will unite in prayer and seek by their own example to lead their families in purity and holiness of life.
The "Mother's Friend"
Thousands of homes throughout the country have benefited by this organisation, and thousands of mothers have found advice, comfort, and consolation in their trials in the messages conveyed to them through the medium of " Mothers in Council' and " The Mothers' Union Journal," which are the organs of the Mothers' Union.
At Worcester, Peterborough, and notably at Embleton, Northumberland, where the late bishop was vicar for ten years after leaving Oxford, Mrs. Creighton is known as the " mothers' friend," and we get an insight into her belief in the value of happy home life in the confession which she made after going to Embleton. It was a great change for Mrs. Creighton. Previously she had lived in the society of intellectuals, distinguished teachers, and historians, who had made Oxford their home. She had devoted her time chiefly to assisting her husband - who was a Fellow of Merton College, and for whom a special statute was passed, enabling him to marry while still remaining a Fellow - in his work of historical research, There is another curious fact which might here be mentioned, by the way. Mrs. Creighton - she was then Miss Von Glehn, her father being a native of one of the Baltic provinces, her mother a Scotchwoman, while she herself was born at Sydenham - was among the first to pass the Honours course after the London University was thrown open to women, while Dr. Creighton was among the first of Oxford tutors to admit women to his lectures.
For three years her life at Oxford - during which Mrs. Creighton wrote her well-known "Child's History of England " - continued. And then her husband accepted the living at Embleton - a straggling, North-country parish. But Mrs. Creighton quickly adapted herself to her new circumstances, and grew to love the life of a country clergyman's wife.
"Woman's first duty is her home," she said some time after going to Embleton. A clergyman's wife should never allow her interest in parish affairs to hinder her in attending to the care of the children and the management of her home. She can best help her husband by relieving him of all anxiety about home affairs, so that he can go about among his people, and devote himself entirely to their welfare, without any fear that things at home are suffering through his absence. The best thing a clergyman's wife can do for her poor neighbours is to visit them, get to know them, and make them feel that she is their friend."
Mrs. Creighton, foundress of the Mothers' Union. The high ideal of motherhood is the keynote of Mrs. Creighton's character
Photo, F. Russell & Sons
This is exactly what Mrs. Creighton did at Embleton, and both she and her husband often said that the ten years they spent there were the happiest of their fives, in spite of the arduous work - for the late bishop, in addition to parish work, took a good deal of interest in local business, and became chairman of the Board of Guardians and Sanitary Authority and School Attendance Committee. About this time, however, Mrs. Creighton was unable to assist her husband to any great extent in his work, for her time was chiefly taken up with her children, of whom seven - three sons and four daughters - came to brighten their home. Mrs. Creighton made a point of not only seeing that the home life of her children was all that could be desired, but she also directed their education. And even after Dr. Creighton went to Worcester and Peterborough, she continued to conduct their education as much as she possibly could.