Josephine Butler to Mr Wilson

Scope and Content

Written from Winchester. She regretted that her disapproval of Acland's Bill was unknown to him but never imagined he had not learnt of this from the Vigilance Association. The expression of her objections were made conjointly with Stuart and Dr Elizabeth Blackwell. Bids him beware of Mitchell [prime mover in the VA] 'he is a born repressionist and tyrant'

Administrative / Biographical History

6 May [1883] - the reference to Acland's Bill dates it 1883. A Bill amending Acland's Vagrant Act of 1824 was proposed by many Vigilance Societies. See p. 174 'I never guessed that my disapproval of Acland's Bill was any secret to you.' JB is here referring to a Bill amending 'Acland's Vagrant Act' of 1830. Many of the Vigilance Societies and some Abolitionists as well as the ordinary citizen, complained about the state of the streets since the passing of Stanfeld's Resolution 20 Apr 1883, and this Bill set out to remedy the state of affairs. It proposed to give the right to the street police on the appeal of a fixed number of householders in nay district to declare a street or streets to be a 'closed' area, and made liable to arrest any who 'loitered' there. But JB was dead against it, seeing in it 'only an attempt to re-introduce the CD Acts in a different guise'. In her mind's eye she saw the streets of Paris and the frightening power held by the police over all young girls. (Taken from Moberly Bell -Josephine Butler p.174) JB herself was a member of the Vigilance Society and had protested by a public letter to the whole Committee giving her reasons for her objections. Biog: Dr Elizabeth Blackwell.