22 March 1883 – 19 January 1962
Edith Gates was the first woman to be recognised as in pastoral charge of an English Baptist church. Her pastorate at Little Tew and Cleveley, Oxfordshire began in 1918 when she was 35, and after completing Baptist Union Examinations and being recommended by the Oxfordshire Association, she was enrolled as a probationer in 19221
and ordained. This was her only pastorate, lasting from 1918-1950.
Records from local historians report that ‘after the First World War the services at the (Little Tew) Baptist chapel were conducted by the two Miss Gates, who lived in the Manse. The Revd Edith Gates became the minister in 1918, with her sister acting as organist. Her ministry was so active that a school-room was built in 1925, replacing two derelict cottages adjacent to the chapel. A study of Oxfordshire Baptist chapels in 1977 recorded a conversation with a 95 year old lady remembering the 300-400 strong congregations who gathered to listen to the Revd Edith Gates on Sundays.2
Over sixty people attended the celebration of the twenty-first anniversary of the Revd Gates' ministry in 1939. The Miss Gates retired in 1950 to live in Weston-super-Mare. Little Tew and Cleveley chapels are both closed now3
with the nearest Baptist church being Chipping Norton.
In 1931 Edith Gates was president of the Oxfordshire and East Gloucestershire Baptist Association, now the Southern Counties Baptist Association. She was a founder of the Women's Prayer Circle.
1 Baptist Union of Great Britain and Ireland Minute Book September 1922 to February 1924, Ministerial Recognition Special Committee 7 November 1922
2 Oxfordshire Archaeological Unit Newsletter - January 1978
3 A History of Little Tew