Josephine Butler to Mr Johnson

Scope and Content

Written from Brizlee, Wooler, Northumberland

Though very ill she is full of hope about England and all lands. She comments on some of the members of the new Liberal Government elected in 1905 under Campbell-Bannerman. 'Austin Birrell is my cousin' [he was appointed to the Board of Education] JB regretted that Mr Stuart had not already been in Parliament 'as he would have been just the man for Education Minister. She knew 'John Burns personally and esteem him' [he was made President of the Local Government Board]. She had had a pathetic letter from the Chief Rabbi of London about the tortured and murdered Jews in Russia.

Administrative / Biographical History

'Yes, Austin Birrell is my cousin.'

Austin Birrell's father, Charles Birrell was a Baptist minister who had a church near Liverpool. He helped Josephine in her first attempt to succour women outcasts in Liverpool when she and the Rev. George went there in 1866.

Charles Birrell's wife Harriet was a 1st cousin of JB, Harriet's mother being a sister of JB's father.

'I do regret that Mr Stuart had now to fight for a seat. If he had already been in Parliament he would have been just the man for Education Minister. I hope he may get some place worthy of him.'

James Stuart was defeated in the 1900 election when he contended the Hoxton division of Shoreditch. He was re-elected in the Dec 1905 election for Sunderland and stayed as member for that borough till 1910.

He did not attain ministerial rank and was not rewarded with any office under Campbell Bannerman or Asquith.

Biog: Austin Birrell; Sir Edward Grey; James Stuart; John Burns