In 1861 Bishop Tait set apart Miss Elizabeth Ferard as a deaconess by the laying on of hands, and she became the first president of the London Deaconess Institution.
The Year-Book (1911) of the Protestant Episcopal Church of America (Anglican) mentions 18 American sisterhoods and 7 deaconess homes and training colleges.
Among the hospitals are a state hospital for the insane, the Erie county, the Buffalo general, the Children's, the United States marine (maintained by the Federal government), the German, the Homeopathic, the Women's, the German Deaconess and the Riverside hospitals, and the Buffalo hospital of the Sisters of Charity.
Here he is usually said (but on inadequate data) to have adopted the opinion then gaining ground in favour of the celibacy of the clergy, and to have separated from his wife Theosebia, who became a deaconess in the church.
Above all, he both magnifies the office of the Christian ministry as a whole and alters what is said of it in detail (for example, the deaconess loses rank not a little), to make it agree with the circumstances of his day in general, and with his own ideas of fitness in particular.
The functions of the deaconess were as follows: (1) To assist at the baptism of women, especially in connexion with the anointing of the body which in the ancient Church always preceded immersion; (2) to visit the women of the Church in their homes and to minister to the needs of the sick and afflicted; (3) according to the Apostolical Constitutions they acted as door-keepers in the church, received women as they entered and conducted them to their allotted seats.