At Exeter she had designated herself ‘the Lamb's wife.’ In October 1802 she had described herself as ‘bringing forth to the world’ a spiritual man, ‘the second Christ.’ It would seem that the grosser interpretation of these figures was due, in the first instance, to the enthusiasm of her followers, overbearing her own expressed doubts, and fears of delusion. The announcement that she was to become the mother of Shiloh was first made in her ‘Third Book of Wonders’ (1813); it was said to have been revealed in 1794, but not then understood. On 11 Oct. 1813 she shut herself up from society, seeing only Jane Townley and Ann Underwood, who lived with her. Shiloh was to be born in the following year. She became ill on 17 March 1814, and on 1 Aug. Joseph Adams, M.D. [q. v.], was called in. Of nine medical men consulted on the case, six admitted that the symptoms would, in a younger woman, indicate approaching maternity. The excitement of Joanna's followers knew no bounds. In September a crib costing 200l. was made to order by Seddons of Aldersgate Street; 100l. was spent in pap-spoons; a bible was superbly bound as a birthday present. The ‘Morning Chronicle,’ which had inserted an advertisement for ‘a large furnished house’ for a public accouchement, announced next day that ‘a great personage’ had offered ‘the Temple of Peace in the Green Park.’ The London papers teemed with letters on the medical aspects of the case. On 19 Nov. Joanna told Dr. Richard Reece [q. v.] that she was ‘gradually dying,’ and signed a paper directing him to open her body four days after death. By her desire all the articles prepared for Shiloh were returned. She died at 38 Manchester Street, Manchester Square, on 27 Dec. 1814. For four days her body was kept warm, as she had desired. The autopsy conducted on 31 Dec. by Reece, in the presence of Adams, John Sims, M.D. [q. v.], and other medical men, revealed the cause of the ambiguous symptoms, assisted, so Reece thought, by deception, a judgment which seems needlessly harsh. There was no functional disorder or organic disease; probably ‘all the mischief lay’ in the brain, which was not examined, owing to the high state of putrefaction. She was interred with great privacy on 1 Jan. 1815 at St. John's Wood; the tombstone, with lines ending ‘Thou'lt appear in greater power,’ was shattered by the Regent's Park explosion (1874), a circumstance which revived the hopes of her return. From her followers have sprung two minor sects, led by John Ward (1781–1837) [q. v.] and John Wroe [q. v.]
Joanna's portrait has a cunning expression, but she struck unbelievers as a kindly, motherly creature, simple, amiable, and unaffected. Her writings (latterly dictated) are very numerous, and first editions are rare. A ‘General Index’ (to March 1805) deals with twenty-five publications, and there are at least as many more. The principal are (all 8vo): 1. ‘The Strange Effects of Faith,’ 1801 (six parts), with three ‘Continuations,’ 1802–30. 2. ‘The First Book of the Sealed Prophecies,’ and ‘The Second Book of Visions,’ 1803. 3. ‘Copies and Parts of Copies of Letters,’ and ‘Letters and Communications,’ 1804. 4. ‘The True Explanation of the Bible,’ 1804–10, seven parts. 5. ‘The Trial of Joanna Southcott,’ 1804. 6. ‘Answer to Five Charges,’ 1805. 7. ‘An Answer to … Smith,’ 1808. 8. ‘The Book of Wonders,’ 1813–14, five parts. Collected from her writings are two books of verse, ‘Song of Moses and the Lamb,’ 1804, 16mo, and ‘Hymns or Spiritual Songs,’ 1807, 24mo.
[Nearly all her writings yield biographical particulars, given without order or continuity; from them are derived the Life and Prophecies, 1814; Life, 1814; Memoirs, 1814, reprinted with appendix in Memoirs of Religious Imposters (sic), 1821, by M. Aikin, LL.D., i.e. Edward Pugh; Life and Death, 1815. See also Evans's Sketch, 1811, p. 272 (account by a believer, not mentioning Shiloh); Reece's Correct Statement of the Last Illness and Death of Mrs. Southcott, with the Appearances in Dissection, 1815; Mathias's Case of Joanna Southcott, 1815; Monthly Repository, 1809 p. 351, 1815 pp. 56 seq., 120, 381; Gent. Mag. 1800–14, passim; Evans's Sketch (Bransby), 1842, p. 285; extract from the baptismal register of Ottery St. Mary, per the Rev. M. Kelly. Use has been made of a collection of newspaper cuttings, 1814–15, bearing on her case.]
SOUTHERN, HENRY (1799–1853), founder of the ‘Retrospective Review’ and diplomatist, born at York in 1799, was the son of Richard Southern. He entered Trinity College, Cambridge, on 31 Dec. 1814, graduated B.A. in 1819 as twenty-second senior optime, and proceeded M.A. in 1822. He afterwards became a member of the Middle Temple, but was not called to the bar. He was deeply interested in early English literature and, to extend the knowledge of it among the reading public, he in 1820 founded the ‘Retrospective Review,’ which he edited alone till 1826, by which time fourteen volumes had been published. Between 1826 and 1828 two more were issued by him in partnership with Sir Nicholas Harris Nicolas [q. v.] The ‘Review’ provided valuable ‘criticisms upon, analyses of, and extracts from curious, valuable, and scarce old books,’