Josephine Butler to [Miss Forsaith]

Scope and Content

Photocopy of incomplete letter (last two pages only). Written from Mrs de Selincourt's, Eversley, Bedford Hill, Balham.

She gives an account of a meeting held during the International Congress of Women in London, 26 Jun-4 Jul 1899, related to her by some of her friends who were present. Mrs Creighton (wife of Bishop Creighton) presided, and the paper was read by Mrs HJ Wilson on the subject: 'Social necessity for an equal moral standard for men and women'. Mrs Creighton considers it 'a most painful subject' and begged that all young women would withdraw. No one moved. Towards the end Mrs Sarah Amos provoked a scene by inviting all the young women to Monday evening's meeting; Mrs Creighton lost her head, had a hysterical outburst and accused them all of blasphemy. It all confirmed her maid Annie's remark: 'Wherever your position up, Madam, there is sure to be a row.'

Administrative / Biographical History

[5 Jul 1899] Date: The International Congress of Women was held in London 26 Jun-4 Jul 1899. On Friday 30 Jun a meeting in the large room of the Church House was held to consider the 'Social necessity for an equal moral standard for men and women'. Mrs Creighton, wife of the Bishop of London, presided. It was hoped that JB would deliver an address on this but her state of health prevented her. Mrs HJ Wilson stood in for her and delivered a paper, which dealt entirely with the state regulation of vice showing how that system was based on an unequal moral standard. (See Shield Jul 1899 p 47). Date of this letter would therefore be a few days after 30 Jun, say 5 Jul. See also letters of:

27 Jun JB to Mrs HJ Wilson; 30 Jun, 2 letters to be read out at the Congress (1) to introduce Mrs HJ Wilson, (2) pointing out the legislative injustice that the neglect of this principle (i.e. equal moral standard for men and women) has brought upon them.

'Towards the end Sarah rose in fury' and congratulated all the young women on their not having gone away' This was Mrs Sarah Amos (widow of Seldon Amos, the jurist) an ardent worker in the Cause but given to managing to a degree which made her not the most popular woman in the Society, a feeling shared by JB

In a letter of 16 Jul 1897 from the Brussels Conference JB writes:

'Great consternation was created among the English delegates this forenoon by the sudden entrance of Mrs Amos who had travelled through the night and was in a quiver of restlessness. However the Congress is half over and she cannot pretend to manage it now'

Biog: Mrs Creighton, Mrs Sarah Amos (Mrs Sheldon Amos), Annie (the maid)