Josephine Butler to Miss Priestman

Scope and Content

Written from Liverpool, after having been with her LNA friends at Plymouth. She congratulates them on forming a Committee at Plymouth before leaving. Thinks their women's meeting was one not to be sneered at by the newspapers, seeing that 'Mary Carpenter spoke...and that Mrs Lucas presided, and Hannah Fox and other people not to be sneered at were there.'

In regard to the SS Congress she says 'I had a painful feeling of the hollowness of things at the SS Congress...all the fair talk and apparent straining to reform society combined with the fact of the horrid Acts [Plymouth was one of the 'subjected towns'] being in the place.'

On the way home JB stopped at Newark and there attended a meeting of agricultural labourers whom she addressed from 'a large hay cart'. [see note] The only other person of the 'better classes' was Prof. Beesly, Prof of History University College London (1860-1903). She did not like him.

Administrative / Biographical History

19 Sep [date of year supplied by date of Social Science Congress held at Plymouth 1872]

'Social Science week' - This was held in 1872 at Plymouth the week beginning 9 Sep. The National Association had asked if the Committee would accept a paper on CD Acts at the coming Congress. This was refused on the grounds that this subject had been discussed at 3 previous Congresses. (See 'Shield' 10 Aug 1872 p 1039)

In order that the subject should be kept in the public eye an important public meeting on the subject was held on 12 Sep in St James's Hall, Plymouth. (See 'Shield' 7 Sep 1872 p 1065, 21 Sep 1872 p 1083)

'Our women's meeting' - This was held as the annual meeting of the LNA on Saturday 14 Sep 1872 at Devonport, for women only, at which Miss Mary Carpenter, Miss Wolstenholme, JB and others spoke. (See 'Shield' 21 Sep 1872 p 1086)

'The horrid Acts being in the place' - Plymouth and Devonport were among the first batch of towns which came under the CD Act of 1864 renewed in 1866. Was there any protest made against the conduct of Dr Acton and the closed doors?

'pleasant to go among the agricultural labourers' - 'Mr Taylor of the Peterborough Agricultural League recalled the fact of her [JB] addressing 3,000 labourers from a cart as a platform in the market place of Newark, during the infancy of the agricultural movement' (Account of JB's speech at the Trade Union Congress at Leeds 'By an Eyewitness' Jan 1873). (In the 'Shield' 25 Jan 1873 p 25)

Joseph Arch began his political work for the agricultural labourer in 1872. 29 Mar 1872 the Warwickshire Agricultural Labourers' Union was founded and in May the National Agricultural LU was founded and Arch was appointed secretary of the Nat Union

Biog: Mary Carpenter; Mrs Lucas; Miss Estlin; Mrs Hannah Fox; Mr Littleton (Agent); GW Hastings; Dr Acton; Joseph Arch; Prof Beesly; Lord Napier; Sir JD Coleridge