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Lake, Serena Thorne (1842 - 1902)

Born
October 1842
Devon, United Kingdom
Died
1902
South Australia, Australia
Occupation
Preacher, Missionary, Social reformer and Suffragist
Alternative Names
  • Thorne, Serena (maiden name)

Summary

Serena Thorne was born in Devon in October 1842, daughter of Samuel and Mary Thorne. In 1865 the church sent her to Queensland to help establish Bible Christianity and she arrived in South Australia in 1870, preaching throughout the colony from church halls to street corners. In March 1871 she married Octavius Lake whom she had known in Devon and they worked together to further Bible Christianity in South Australia. Serena Lake attended the foundation meeting of the South Australian Women's Suffrage League in 1888 and was appointed to the Council. In 1889 the Woman's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) appointed her to the dual positions of Colonial organizer and Suffrage superintendent. In 1891 she was made a life vice-president of the WCTU. She died in 1902 aged 60.

Details

Serena Thorne was born in Devon in October 1842, daughter of Samuel and Mary Thorne. Her grandfather, William O'Bryan was founder and co-organizer of the Bible Christian Church which welcomed women preachers. By the age of twenty one Serena Thorne had already become well known throughout Devon, Cornwall and South Wales as a preacher. In 1865 the church sent her to Queensland to help establish Bible Christianity and in 1870 she moved first to Victoria and South Australia soon after. She received a warm welcome in South Australia and preached at churches in Adelaide and country areas. In March 1871 she married Octavius Lake whom she had known in Devon and they worked together to further Bible Christianity in South Australia. They had seven children of whom only one survived. Serena Lake attended the foundation meeting of the South Australian Women's Suffrage League and was appointed to the Council. She was almost certainly a member of the Social Purity Society as she was familiar with the background of the League's foundation. In 1889 the Woman's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) appointed her to the dual positions of Colonial organizer and Suffrage superintendent. In 1891 she was made a life vice-president of the WCTU. At the 1892 annual South Australian Women's Suffrage League meeting she spoke eloquently in support of Mary Lee's report, seconded by Catherine Helen Spence. After this, however, she did not appear again in either the League or WCTU records and when suffrage was won the Lakes were at Moonta in country South Australia carrying on their missionary and pastoral work. She died in 1902 aged 60.

Sources used to compile this entry: 'Serena Thorne Lake (1842-1902)', in Prest, Wilfrid, 1940- (editor) ; Round, Kerrie (managing editor) ; Fort, Carol S. (Carol Susan) (assistant editor) (ed.), The Wakefield companion to South Australian history, Wakefield Press, Kent Town, S. A., 2001, p. 300; Jones, Helen, 1926-, In her own name : women in South Australian history, Wakefield Press, Netley, SA, 1986, 356 pp; 'Serena Thorne's Diary' Uniting Church in South Australia Historical Society Newsletter, 1, January, 1978, p.5 - note that a microfilm version of Serena Thorne Lakes' diary is held at the SA Synod Uniting Church History Centre, East Avenue, Black Forest , ph: 8297 8472, website http://historicalsociety.unitingchurch.org.au/#collectionOpening hours are currently 1pm -4pm Wednesdays or by arrangement.

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Archival resources

State Library of South Australia, Mortlock Library of South Australiana

  • Woman's Christian Temperance Union of South Australia : SUMMARY RECORD, 1889 - 1982, SRG 186; Woman's Christian Temperance Union of South Australia (1889 - ); State Library of South Australia, Mortlock Library of South Australiana. Details

Robin Secomb

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