Josephine Butler to friends whom she wants to come to London for a meeting

Scope and Content

Copy extract from letter. Wishes everyone to urge the country members to come to London for their meeting. Suggests a form of address to be delivered to the Government on the occasion of so many distinguished foreigners visiting England to aid the repeal movement. Also touches on the Rescue Society and its tactics. Sending a brief biographical sketch to all the principal newspapers of the men who are coming from the Continent.

Date: 'The date of the motion in the House must be uncertain'. The Repeal Debate took place 19 Jul 1876. Bill backed by Johnstone, Whitbread and Stansfeld. Johnstone, Stansfeld, Mundella, Henley and Whitbread spoke. Amendment proposed to be postponed for 2 months, withdrawn Division on 2nd reading. Ayes 102; Noes 224. (Rough Record 19 Jul 1876 no 320) 'How sad and shocking some of the features of the woman suffrage debate are.' The treatment meted out to the Suffrage Bills which came up regularly in the House followed the same course as the Repeal Bills. They were either voted against or talked out. The direct reference here is to 26 Apr 1876 when there was a 2nd Reading debate on Women's Disabilities Bill. The result of a majority of 87 against. 'The date of our meetings if fixed and if everybody could come up that week we could arrange several deputations'. This refers to the 1st International Conference of the Federation and Josephine Butler was very gratified that so many 'distinguished foreigners' had accepted their invitation to attend the meeting in London. It was held in London on 18-19 May 1876. (For account of this see 'The Shield' 27 May 1876 p165). 'Before Easter I wrote to the Rescue Society to stir them up to get an MP to challenge in the House the Reformatory results published by Supt Harris'. On the first page of that report appears a declaration from Captain Harris: 'The police specially employed under the Acts have discharged their duties to my entire satisfaction' (See 'The Shield' 8 Jul 1876 p.221, 229, 238 for further details together with criticisms of the Report by the Editor of 'The Shield'). Further it was implied by other police reports from the subject areas that the Rescue Societies 'have never saved any women almost - while Annis and his bloodhounds reclaim and reform so many hundreds ...'. Annis was Chief Inspector of the Devonport Police, and gave evidence before the Royal Commission on Contagious Diseases Acts of 1870/1. He was an enthusiastic upholder of the Acts but the statistics on which he based his support were later moved to be exaggerated and at worst totally erroneous. (For further details see Note letter of Josephine Butler to Miss Priestman 14 Mar 1870). 'It will be a really great failure and disappointment if there are not a great many people at the afternoon conference as well as the evening meeting - for all the foreigners will speak ... I rather feel as if we were making too little use of Pere Hyacinthe'. The annual meeting took place on Friday 19 May 1876 starting at 3 o'clock in the afternoon and resuming in the evening. Pere Hyacinthe was prevented at the last moment from coming by illness.

Administrative / Biographical History

Biog: Sir Harcourt Johnstone MP; Mr Waddy MP; Mr Stansfeld; Anniss; RB Williams; Pere Hyacinthe; Appia; Col Alexander; Mr Forsyth; Captain Harris.