The Changing Role of Women in Britain 1860 - 1930 - Unit 2 & 3 Timeline

Timeline of events from Unit 2 and 3 

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The Changing Role of Women in Britain
1860 ­ 1930: Timeline
Caroline Norton
Married George Norton in 1827 (when she was 19)
They had three sons
The marriage was a disaster ­ Caroline found her husband boring and lazy and
she did not hide her feelings of this.
George responded by beating her
George lost his seat in Parliament in 1830 elections and asked Caroline to use
her connections to get him a job ­ she did so.
George became a magistrate with a generous salary
George continued to beat Caroline.
On two occasions she left, but returned because she didn't want to lose her
George refused Caroline entry into their home and sent her children to
Caroline saw her sons in 1847 ­ but her youngest died in an accident
Caroline refused to hand over the money she received from people who had
died (which was legally her husbands)
So he did not give her money for the up keep of their children and refused to
give her the divorce so she could marry another man.
The problem only ended when George died in 1877.
Caroline wrote a pamphlet about the Custody of children
1838 ­ Campaigned to get the law changed. Got support from an MP. The Bill
was passed in the House of Commons, but failed in the House of Lords.
Caroline wrote another pamphlet and sent in to all MPs
1839 ­ Bill was tried again and succeeded in both.
Wrote pamphlets
1857 ­ (partly as a result of Caroline Norton) parliament passed the Divorce
and Matrimonial Causes Act.
1839 Custody of Children Act
Gave to mothers the right of custody to their children under 7 but only if the
Lord Chancellor agreed to it and if the mother was of good character
1854 Barbara Leigh Smith (Bodichon)
Began to campaign to change the laws on property
Writing articles, ordering petitions and setting up an all woman committee
Petition containing 26,000 signatures was presented to Parliament
Bill was drawn up
Bill was withdrawn to allow the Divorce and Matrimonial Causes bill.
1857 Matrimonial Causes Act

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Allowed divorce to happen through law courts instead of by a private act of
parliament ­ which was slow and expensive.
For a husband to divorce his wife he had to prove: adultery
For a wife to divorce her husband she had to prove: adultery, bigamy, rape,
sodomy, bestiality, cruelty and long-term desertion.…read more

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Education Act ­ allows women ratepayers to vote for, and serve on, the new
school boards
1873 Second Custody of Infants Act
1875 First women elected to serve on Poor Law Boards as guardians of the
There was no law preventing women from being Poor Law guardains
By 1901 there were 1,000 female guardians of the poor
1881 First Women's Liberal Association formed in Bristol
Labour Party
Not until 1887 the different associations came together after the success of
Primrose league
Women's Liberal…read more

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Married Women (Maintenance in Case of Desertion) Act
1886 Guardianship of Infants Act
Gave women more chance of gaining custody of their children.
The act stated that `when determining what parent should have custody the
welfare of the child(ren) should been taken into account'.…read more


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