Records of the James Stansfeld Memorial Trust

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 106 3JSM
  • Dates of Creation
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      3 A boxes

Scope and Content

The archive consists of papers regarding the presentation of the Women's Testimonial to James Stansfeld (1895); draft and final deed of trust (1895-6); minutes of trustees meetings with list of recipients of book (1896-1934), address books, financial papers including ledgers (1896-1934), cashbook (1896-1934) and bankbook (1896-1934), conference papers and related correspondence (1917); lists, manuscripts and press cuttings of lecture series (1921-1925); papers related to the publication of the book on James Stansfeld (1928-1934); papers on women's suffrage (1907-8); scrutineers reports (1896-1902, 1904-1915); annual reports (1896-1915); obituary of GW Johnson.

Administrative / Biographical History

The James Stansfeld Memorial Trust was established in 1896. Its creation was the result of a 'women's testimonial' raised on his retirement from parliament the previous year. The amount raised was used to promote his aim of equality of the sexes through a number of methods. Firstly, there was the appointment of a scrutineer to observe parliament's actions on the question of women's suffrage and report to the trustees. Secondly, they held conferences, notably on the subject of solicitation and the law in 1917. Finally, after the First World War, a series of three memorial lectures on the position of women were held at University College, London. A book on Stansfeld was commissioned by the trust in 1928 and published in 1932 with the title 'James Stansfeld, A Victorian Champion of Sex Equality' (by JL and Barbara Hammond). Two years later, the Trust was wound up and the remaining funds distributed between the Association for Moral & Social Hygiene and the Josephine Butler Memorial Home.

Sir James Stansfeld (1820-1898), was born in Halifax, on 5 Mar 1820, the only son of James Stansfeld (1792-1872) and his wife, Emma (bap. 1793, d. 1851). His father was a solicitor who was also involved with with radical protestant dissent. James followed in his father's footsteps, he was involved with the Chartists in 1839. He then studied at University College, London and graduated in law in 1844. Whilst in London he became friends with William Ashurst, a radical solicitor, as well as other Unitarians. In 1844 he married Caroline Ashurst, daughter of feminist and reformer William Ashurst. Their only son was born in 1852. Stansfeld was called to the Bar at Inner Temple, 1849, but for financial reasons became a brewer in 1850. In 1852 together with his brother-in-law Sidney Hawkes he established the Swan Brewery, Fulham. Stansfeld became Liberal MP for Halifax 1859-1895, despite his brewing background causing trouble with Temperance voters. In 1863 he was appointed Junior Lord of the Admiralty and was Cabinet Minister 1871-1874. He was later appointed President of the Poor Law Board Mar 1871-Aug 1871; and when it merged with Local Government Board, he became President of that, until 1874. In 1872 he made the first appointment of a woman to public post; Mrs Nassau Senior as Inspector of Workhouses despite strong opposition. After Gladstone's government's defeat in 1874 Stansfeld became a key supporter of Josephine Butlers work for the Repeal of the Contagious diseases act. He became Vice-President of the Ladies National Association for the Repeal of the Contagious Diseases Acts from 1874. He first spoke on Repeal in the House of Commons, 23 Jun 1875 (2nd reading of Harcourt Johnstone's Repeal Bill). Stansfeld died on 17 February 1898 at his home at Castle Hill, Rotherfield, Sussex.

Access Information


This collection is available for research. Readers are advised to contact The Women's Library in advance of their first visit.

Other Finding Aids

Fawcett Library Catalogue

Custodial History

This archive, together with the archives that make up Strand 3, was originally deposited by the Josephine Butler Society Library in 1957. Additional papers relating to the scrutineers' reports were found in the Library sequence and added to the collection in Aug 1989.

Related Material

The Women's Library also holds the Josephine Butler Library Collection of printed and published materials. This was formerly the library of the Josephine Butler Society and was deposited with The Fawcett Library through the then librarian's long involvement with the organisation. This includes almost 100 items by James Stansfeld - including pamphlets, published speeches and reports.

Additionally, The Women's Library holds the records of the Ladies National Association for the Repeal of the Contagious Diseases Acts (3LNA) which founded the Memorial Trust; and the Records of the Association for Moral and Social Hygiene (3AMS) which contains papers by Stansfeld as well as portrait photographs of him; the Josephine Butler Autograph Letter Collection which can be consulted in microfilm format (3JBL) which contain letters by and about him.

The Papers of Millicent Garrett Fawcett (7MGF) contains more details on the three memorial lectures.

Closely related papers held at The Women's Library include:

Records of the British Committee of the Continental & General Federation for Abolition of Government Regulation of Prostitution (3BGF); Records of the Lancashire & Cheshire Association for the Abolition of the State Regulation of Vice (3LCA); the Papers of Henry Joseph Wilson (3HJW); the records of the National Association for the Repeal of the Contagious Diseases Acts (ref: 3NAR); Records of the International Bureau for the Suppression of Traffic in Persons: British National Committee (4BNC); Records of the British Vigilance Association (4BVA); the Records of the International Bureau for Suppression of Traffic in Persons (4IBS); the Records of the National Vigilance Association (4NVA); the papers of Richard F Russell, the general secretary of the International Bureau from 1957-1971 (4RFR); and Records of the Travellers' Aid Society (4TAS)

Papers held elsewhere related to James Stansfeld include:

West Yorkshire Archive Service, Leeds, correspondence and papers 1834-1898 (ref Dixon and Stansfeld);

British Library, Manuscript Collections, letters to him and his family 1815-1919 (Add MS 50956);letters to Karl Blind 1859-1870 (Add MSS 40124-26); correspondence with WE Gladstone 1863-1893 (Add MSS 44401-788 passim);

Borthwick Institute for Archives, correspondence with Lord Halifax 1852-1885 (Halifax papers A4);

National Co-operative Archive, correspondence with GJ Holyoake 1850-1886 (MM/96636/1-12);

Oxford University: Bodleian Library, Special Collections and Western Manuscripts, correspondence with Lord Kimberley 1873-1893 (MSS Eng a 2013-14, b 2047-49, c 3933-4514, d 2439-92, e 2790-97).