History - Women

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Chapter 1: Mid-Century Women

The Angel in the House Theory was based off Coventry Patmore's poem in 1854 about his wife, Emily. Women were expected to take care of the husband's needs and creating a peaceful home, whilst looking after his children.
John Ruskin had his marriage to Effie Gray anulled after 6 years. he fainted on seeing her naked when he realised she had pubic hair. they didn't consummate their marriage because her body "did not excite passion".
Unmarried women didn't fit into the Angel in the House theory, mainly because of the high male mortality rate in childhood, marriageable men emmigrating to the Empire to look for work, and the rising cost of living meant that men were postponing marriage until they could afford to have a family in the way that they are accustomed to living.

The Separate Spheres theory was the idea that men and women occupied different and separate spheres in society. men worked outside the home in offices, government or factories and women worked inside the home creating a stable and safe environment, away from the stresses and strains of the world.

Women did not work in Victorian Britain. Middle-class women could acceptably become milliners, dressmakers or governesses, but if you did it was a sighn that you and your family had fallen on hard times. Governesses were usually widows, abandoned wives, or unmarried women with some education.
Working-class women worked because they had to. it wouold have been impossible for middle-class women to fulfil their roles as "Angels" if they did not have people to help them around the house.
In 1851 25.7% of women were working. 10 years later this rose to 26.3%. The vast majority of women worked in domestic service, followed by textiles, clothing and agriculture.
1842 Mines Act forbade women from working underground. it was believed factory work degraded women.

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Chapter 2: Change in Personal Lives 1860-1901 (par

If a man was unfaithful then he was merely giving in to his animal instincts - he could not control it. If a wife was unfaithful she was betraying not only her husband, but her children, her wider family and herself. A husband's adultery was treated as acceptable and a pardonable lapse in judgement, whereas a wife's adultery was a serious and unpardonable offence because she was betraying her instincts.
Legally, married women had no separate identity from their husbands, and therefore could not own property in her own right. All property she owned went to her husband once married and he could do with it as he wished. The children were also the property of the husband and he could deny the mother access to them.

Caroline Norton married George Norton in 1827 when she was 19. She hated him and didnt hide it. Using her contacts with Lord Melbourne Caroline got George a better job with a better salary in Parliament. George then used the rumours of Caroline and Melbourne to forbid her to see him and sued him for "alienating his wife's affections". He refused her entry to her home and sent their 3 boys away. when the youngest died the other 2 were allowed to return to live with their mother. She could finally marry Sir William Maxwell-Sterling (her true love) in 1877 aged 69, but died 3 months later.
The Custody of Children Act 1839 gave women the right to custody of children under the age of 7, but only if the mother was of good character, and the Lord Chancellor approved it.
In 1886 the Guardianship of Infants Act was pasased allowing women more of a chance at custody. When determining which parent to live with, the wellbeing of the child was to be taken into account.
The Divorce and Matrimonial Causes Act 1857 allowed divorce to come through law courts not Parliament Acts. A deserted wife could keep her own income, maintenance payments could be orderes to the wife, women could inherit and bequeath property and they could sue and be sued in a civil court.

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Chapter 2: Change in Personal Lives 1860-1901 (par

The Matrimonial Causes Act 1870 allowed women to keep up to £200 in earnings and personal property in the marriage. The Matrimonial Causes Act 1882 allowed women to keep control over all her money and property in the marriage, and allowed them to carry on with whichever trade or business they were working in before the marriage, using their own property and marriage.

The Contagious Deseases Acts were passed because of the need to reduce venereal disease. However in 1859 compulsory medical examinations of soldiers were abandoned due to the hostility of men to such intimate investigations.
The 1864 Act applied to specific naval ports and garrison towns. it allowed police to arrest prostitutes and order them to undergo an internal examination. If they were infected they were held until cured. If refused, she could be sent to prison.
The 1866 Act meant prostitutes in naval ports and garrison towns were subject to 3-monthly compulsory internal examinations. Regular examinations of prostitutes within 10 miles of the towns and ports were introduced.
The 1869 Act extended to all garrison towns and naval ports and allowed suspected prostitutes to be locked up for up to 5 days before they were examined.

Women went on the offensive and in 1869 they founded the Ladies National Association (LNA) headed by Josephine Butler. On 1st January 1870 140 respectable middle-class women signed a petition against the Contagious Diseases Acts. Strategies included marches, demonstrations, and targeted Parliamentary MPs who supported the Contagious Diseases Acts.
EXAMPLE: Sir Henry Storks... their placard campaign against him was so intense he withdrew his candidature.

The Contagious Diseases Acts were finally repealed in 1886.

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Chapter 3: Women's Involvement in Public Life befo

The Education Act 1870 was necessary because education wasn't provided by the State, but through a mixture of voluntary organizations, charitable institutions and the churches. Education wasn't compulsory and about 34% of children 6-12 didn't have any education. This was worsened by population growth and the concentration of population in industrialised townd, where the provision couldn't cope. There was the idea that an illiterante, innumerate workforce would lead to Britain falling behind it's industrial competitors.
Liberal MP, W.E Forster put forward the Act. He divided England into districts, and set up school boards in each to take charge of the education in that area. They plugged the gaps, creating a dual system with the State and charity. Women could be elected onto the school boards, and work voluntarily as managers of individual schools.
Poor Law Guardians were people elected by the local community to make sure the workhouses were run properly. The first woman was elected in 1875, and by 1901 there were about 1000 female guardians.
The Workhouse Visiting Society was formally recognised in 1857. it had a committee that comprised of respectable doctors, lawyers, politicians' wives, clergymen and aristocrats. They became the spearhead for workhouse reform.

The Primrose League was set up in 1883 to promote the Conservative Party and aspiring Tory MPs. Its membership was heirarchal - one membership for the upper-class and a separate one for the lower classes. Women were involved on the social side, organising fund-raising events and social gatherings; on the political side, they gave out leaflets and helped voters in to the polls on election days. They didn't campaign on behalf of women's rights.
In 1887 the different associations came under the Women's Liberal Federation. This had a council of 500 delegates elected by the different associations and an executive committee of 30, elected by the council. They fulfilled the same roles as the Primrose League.
The 1894 Local Government Act meant married women could vote in local elections, and could stand for election as municipal councillors.

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Chapter 3: Women's Involvement in Public Life befo

The Education Act 1870 was necessary because education wasn't provided by the State, but through a mixture of voluntary organizations, charitable institutions and the churches. Education wasn't compulsory and about 34% of children 6-12 didn't have any education. This was worsened by population growth and the concentration of population in industrialised townd, where the provision couldn't cope. There was the idea that an illiterante, innumerate workforce would lead to Britain falling behind it's industrial competitors.
Liberal MP, W.E Forster put forward the Act. He divided England into districts, and set up school boards in each to take charge of the education in that area. They plugged the gaps, creating a dual system with the State and charity. Women could be elected onto the school boards, and work voluntarily as managers of individual schools.
Poor Law Guardians were people elected by the local community to make sure the workhouses were run properly. The first woman was elected in 1875, and by 1901 there were about 1000 female guardians.
The Workhouse Visiting Society was formally recognised in 1857. it had a committee that comprised of respectable doctors, lawyers, politicians' wives, clergymen and aristocrats. They became the spearhead for workhouse reform.

The Primrose League was set up in 1883 to promote the Conservative Party and aspiring Tory MPs. Its membership was heirarchal - one membership for the upper-class and a separate one for the lower classes. Women were involved on the social side, organising fund-raising events and social gatherings; on the political side, they gave out leaflets and helped voters in to the polls on election days. They didn't campaign on behalf of women's rights.
In 1887 the different associations came under the Women's Liberal Federation. This had a council of 500 delegates elected by the different associations and an executive committee of 30, elected by the council. They fulfilled the same roles as the Primrose League.
The 1894 Local Government Act meant married women could vote in local elections, and could stand for election as municipal councillors.

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Chapter 4: Suffragists - Getting Started 1860-1903

The election of John Stuart Mill to the House of Commons in 1865 was important because he was elected on a female suffrage platform. He gave a pre-election speech declaring he was in favour of giving women the vote. In 1866 J.S Mill and Henry Fawcett presented a petition with 1500 signatures in favour of female suffrage to Parliament. For the first time, female suffrage was firmlay on the Parliamentary agenda, and had been treated seriously.

The Reform Act 1867 extended the franchise to include householders and lodgers for over 12 months. On 20th May 1867 J.S Mill produced the amendment that the word 'person' replace the word 'man' in the bill. It was defeated by 196 to 73, but female enfranchisement had again been debated.

In 1870 Richard Pankhurst drafted the first Women's Suffrage Bill. It was introduced to the House of Commons as a Private Member's Bill, and passed it's first and second readings. Liberal Prime Minister W.E Gladstone made it clear that it wouldn't be supported by the government, and the Bill was defeated.

The Women's Suffrage Committee split, as they had the same goal, but many had different ideas and arguments over strategy and tactics.
A conference for all the suffrage groups was held in Birmingham in 1896, with the idea of formulating a petition asking for women's suffrage. The petition, containing 250,000 signatures, was presented to Parliament in 1867 in support of Women's Suffrage Bill. The Bill passed it's second reading with a 71-vote majority and then failed because of government opposition.

It was from thsi point that the NUWSS co-ordinated the constitutional campaign for women's suffrage until 1918.

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