Josephine Butler to [Miss Priestman]

Scope and Content

Written from Winchester. Deals with business of the LNA and lays down general plan of action for the immediate future. Suggests they should collect petitions and then pour them in the first week of the opening of Parliament in Feb 1884. Also that the annual meeting of the LNA should be held at the same time. They should support by their Petitions the Bill sponsored by the City of London Committee, with only one clause; for raising the age of protection of girls to 16. She herself will be able to attend nothing except the annual meeting owing to press of Federation work and health (she had a bad heart attack while at Zermatt)

Administrative / Biographical History

4 Oct [1884] 'With regard to the Bill before the Lords.' A Committee of the House of Lords was set up by Lord Granville in 1881 to consider the Traffic in Women and Girls and issued a Report which confirmed all the allegations which had been made. As a result the Criminal Law Amendment Bill was introduced into the House of Lords, raising the age of consent from 13 to 16. In 1883, 1884 and 1885 it passed the Lords but each time it came to the House of Commons it was talked out or dropped. It took the notorious disclosures made by WT Stead in the Pall Mall Gazette Jul 1885 under the title 'The maiden tribute of modern Babylon' to move the Government to action. A Bill was rushed through Parliament and received the Royal Assent 14 Aug 1885. The date of this letter was obviously before the Stead disclosures and may be placed in 1884 (see also note on Prof Stuart below). 'Prof Stuart ... likely to enter Parliament soon.' Prof Stuart was first elected to Parliament 5 Nov 1884 as MP for Hackney. (RR 475A)' I would ask that the LNA annual meeting might be held at or about the same time [as the opening of Parliament, 1st week in Feb] The annual meeting was later fixed for 19 & 20 Feb 1885 to be held at Exeter Hall London. Biog: Mlle Humbert; Mrs Meuricoffre and husband; James Stuart.