Elizabeth Horne and Aaron Riley became correspondents, and cooperated in the work. By 1892, Riley had a group of twenty to thirty men that met regularly for Bible study, and he exchanged letters regularly with “sister Horne.” The both met Russell during his visit that year, and the Russells stayed in Elizabeth Horne’s home. The practice of preaching in parks is verifiable from the The Watch Tower, but there is insufficient biographical information to tell which of the many Elizabeth Hornes resident in London she was. Her husband’s name is never give.
Among the first permanent associations built off receipt of Watch Tower pamphlets was a small group in Islington, London. The brief history in the 1973 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses says:
Tom Hart of Islington, London, wrote for and received three pamphlets. He also received Zion’s Watch Tower regularly for nine months, all without charge-a new experience in the religious field. From then on he became a regular subscriber. He was struck by the theme that ran through each issue, namely, “Get out of her, my people” – a Scriptural call to leave Christendom’s religious groups and follow Bible teaching. He and a fellow railwayman, Johnathan Ling, began studying. This led to Hart’s formally resigning from the chapel in 1884, soon to be followed by Ling and a dozen others who began to meet together. This appears to be the first record of regular meetings of this sort in Britain. Many who shared in such meetings also showed a willingness to engage in the work of spreading enlightenment to others.
Thom Hart was born in Calcutta, India, in 1853. At the time of the 1881 Census he had moved his family from the Islington address to 5 Lavinia Grove, Middlesex, London. He was “a carman” for one of the railroads. In another place he called “a railroad shunter.” He and his wife had three children, two sons and one daughter, all under the age of four. I can find no helpful information about Johnathan Ling.
The Yearbook is mistaken in its view that the group organized by Tom Hart was the first in the U.K., but a small group was meeting in London by March 1884. It may have been Tom Hart who wrote a letter appearing in the March issue of Zion’s Watch Tower. Whoever the writer was, he expressed his continuing appreciation of the Watch Tower. He always prayed for its safe arrival and was thankful that he had not missed one issue in two years. “I am able to report a little progress for the last twelve months,” he wrote. “Our meeting