Josephine Butler to Mr Wilson

Scope and Content

Written from Liverpool. Very busy now with the approaching Election at Preston. About the Conference at Sheffield it must be made clear from the beginning that the Conference is agreed against Bruce's Bill and that they undertake to fight that Bill as identical in principle with the Acts. The Pontefract election has taught us this lesson. No legislation at all on prostitution and for their legislative programme only repeal. Repeal also of clause 40 of the Mutiny Act. Some keep crying out for Laws but 'I have no faith in Laws in this direction at any time'.

Administrative / Biographical History

23 Aug [1872]

'Approaching Election at Preston. Mr Fothergill is going there' - This was held early in Sep. Mr Fothergill, the parliamentary agent of the LNA was sent there to organise a meeting and ascertain the views of the candidates on Repeal. Major German, the liberal candidate declared himself against the CD Acts and pledged himself to vote for their repeal. Mr Holker the Conservative candidate supported the Acts ('Shield' 14 Sep 1872 p 1075). A public meeting was held in the Corn Exchange at Preston 3 Sep, at which Mr Fothergill and JB spoke. ('Shield' 14 Sep 1872 p 1076)

'Our Conference at Sheffield' - See note on this in letter from JB to HJ Wilson 26 Aug 1872

'Bruce's Bill' - See JB's circular letter 12 Mar 1872

'Pontefract Election' - The Pontefract by-election took place Aug 1872 (polling day Aug 15). HCE Childers who was seeking re-election on his appointment as 1st Lord of the Admiralty expected a walk over, but the Abolitionists decided to intervene, and, as at Colchester with General Storks, the CD Acts became the real issue in the election, and what contemporary accounts termed 'exciting scenes' ensued. Childers retained the seat but with a majority down from 233 to 80. The point had been made

Result of the poll: Mr Childers 658, Lord Pollington 578. majority 80

'repeal also of Clause 40 of mutiny Act' - The Mutiny Act was at this time renewed every year giving an opportunity to question or amend any section. In the 'Shield' of Apr 20 1872 p.908 Prof James Stuart in a letter drew attention to the 'immorality and injustice' occasioned by section 40 of the Mutiny Bill which expressly exempted every soldier in HM's service from liability for the maintenance of his wife and children or any bastard children. Reformers saw in Cardwell's army reforms and the more extended localisation of the army an extension of these evils. The Bill was amended in 1873; and a new Section, Section 107 introduced, which reversed the clause giving exemption to the soldier from liability for the maintenance of wife and children. It was pointed out however by those interested in the welfare of a soldier's dependents that the introduction of various obstacles in the way of its enforcement made it practically inoperative. In fact: 'It is a matter of grave doubt whether under this Section, any deserted wife or child of a soldier will ever be one penny the better off for this professed amendment of the law' ('Shield' 3 Apr 1873 p 106-8)

'The New Era' by Josephine Butler, Liverpool, Brakell, 1872. This was written as a considered argument against 'Mr Bruce's Bill', though by the time it reached the public the Bill had been withdrawn (15 Jul 1872). It stated the case clearly against the system of 'regulated' vice

Biog: Mr Fothergill, HCE Childers, E Cardwell, James Stuart, Major German, Mr Holker