Notoriously dissolute females


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  • Improvements brought about through legislation in 19 th century similar to EU legislation today
  • Notoriously dissolute females

    1. 1. THE NOTORIOUSLY DISSOLUTE FEMALES Joanne Rothwell, County Archivist
    2. 2. THE ROLE OF WOMEN <ul><li>A lot of the roles for men and women that we accept or rebel against were created over time </li></ul><ul><li>The roles that women accept or rebel against today of mother, martyr, sinner, saint were no more absolute in the past than they are now </li></ul><ul><li>The question for women to discuss is where the role/images of women come from and whether or not these are used as the tool against which we measure ourselves </li></ul>
    3. 3. The Angel in the House by Coventry Patmore <ul><li>Published in 1854, revised through 1862 </li></ul><ul><li>“ Man must be pleased; but him to please Is woman’s pleasure; down the gulf Of his condoled necessities She casts her best, she flings herself. How often flings for nought, and yokes Her heart of an icicle or whim, Whose each impatient word provokes Another, not from her, but him; While she, too gentle even to force His penitence by kind replies, Waits by, expecting his remorse, With pardon in her pitying eyes; And if he once, by shame oppress’d, A comfortable word confers, She leans and weeps against his breast. And seems to think the sin was hers; Or any eye to see her charms, At any time she’s still his wife, Dearly devoted to his arms; She loves with love that cannot tire; And when, ah woe, she loves alone, Through passionate duty loves springs higher, As grass grows taller round a stone.” </li></ul>
    4. 4. Angel in the House <ul><li>Moral women who conformed to the codes of behaviour set by society could be seen as “angels” content with domestic life and living to serve the needs of man </li></ul><ul><li>The theme angel or harlot abounds in the literature of the period (Pamela by Samuel Richardson) </li></ul><ul><li>Irrespective of whether a woman was an “angel in the house” she was still morally and physically weak and required protection </li></ul>
    5. 5. DISSOLUTE WOMEN <ul><li>Women were the moral guardians and were held responsible for any lapse in morality </li></ul><ul><li>Childbirth out of wedlock </li></ul><ul><li>Dress </li></ul><ul><li>Speech </li></ul><ul><li>Out of control </li></ul>
    6. 6. BG/LISM/11 1852 <ul><li>Resolved. That a classification of the female Inmates being deemed necessary so as to separate the notoriously dissolute females from those whose misfortunes compelled them to become inmates of the House - a portion of the Workhouse be allotted to their use to be called “The Dissolute Ward” </li></ul>
    7. 7. THE NINETEENTH CENTURY <ul><li>Social Change </li></ul><ul><li>Industrialisation – Portlaw </li></ul><ul><li>Many women worked either inside or outside the home and yet today the question of the effect on children of women going out to work is raised as if it were a new/modern phenomenon </li></ul><ul><li>Emigration and Travel </li></ul><ul><li>Cultural Movement </li></ul><ul><li>Greater Literacy </li></ul><ul><li>New Legislation </li></ul>
    8. 8. Legislation and Legalities <ul><li>1839 Child Custody Act - now possible for a mother to be given custody of her children under 7 </li></ul><ul><li>1840 Judge upheld a man’s right to lock up his wife and beat her in moderation </li></ul><ul><li>1852 Judge ruled that a man may not force his wife to live with him </li></ul><ul><li>1857 Matrimonial Causes Act - legally separated wife given the right to keep what she earns; husband may divorce wife for adultery, whereas a wife must prove adultery aggravated by cruelty or desertion </li></ul><ul><li>1864-1869 Contagious Diseases Acts - women living in certain garrison towns liable to be declared prostitutes and forcibly examined for venereal disease </li></ul><ul><li>1869 Extension of Municipal Franchise to women ratepayers </li></ul><ul><li>1870 First Married Woman’s Property Act </li></ul><ul><li>1918 Voting Act - enfranchised men over 21 and women over 30 </li></ul>
    9. 9. PP/CHLY/245 - 29 Sept. 1788 <ul><li>Richard Musgrave provided an annuity of £100 for the use of his daughter Susanna </li></ul><ul><li>Richard Chearnley her nephew sought advice from Stephen Radcliffe, esquire on Musgrave’s will asking whether as surviving trustee of this settlement he can compel Andrew English her husband to pay the arrears due on the annuity to her </li></ul><ul><li>In reply he was informed that English was “…in fact his wife’s paymaster” </li></ul>
    10. 10. WOMEN AND VIOLENCE <ul><li>1840 – Man’s right to beat his wife in moderation upheld in the courts </li></ul><ul><li>Education and expectations of men. Role of Disciplinarian </li></ul><ul><li>Women had to be controlled and watched so that their natural tendency to be “dissolute” could be stopped </li></ul><ul><li>Women were responsible for rape – was she of good character, did she look “proper”, was she in the right place, did she say or do anything to invite rape. Special care required with regard to the evidence of women “unsafe” </li></ul>
    11. 11. UNFORTUNATE FEMALES <ul><li>Under the Contagious Diseases Acts 1864-1869 women were the ones that were being treated (forcibly) to prevent the spread of STIs </li></ul><ul><li>It was considered too “demoralising” to do the same thing to men in relation to the testing and treatment of STIs </li></ul><ul><li>Unfortunate in that poverty often forced women into prostitution </li></ul><ul><li>Parliament repealed the Acts in 1886 – following campaigning by women such as Josephine Butler. These women later became involved with the suffrage movement </li></ul>
    12. 12. Tenant Application Book - Lismore Estate (August/Sept. 1841) <ul><li>A complaint was made by relatives that a tenant of the estate had 3 of his aunt’s children living in his house with him. The application states that “…one of them as a mistress and has children by her. His sisters are living in the house and are proper girls” </li></ul><ul><li>The agent stated that this complaint was true and writes that “He is told that I consider his conduct so infamous that unless he immediately gets rid of this girl I will mark his conduct in the sternest possible manner. He will not promise to put her away. This girl is of a very bad character </li></ul>
    13. 13. DUDC/1/5 - 24 Sept. 1877 <ul><li>Resolved, that our attention having been called by the inhabitants of Bridge Street to the state in which the street is kept by being made the resort of prostitutes whose conduct is such that the inhabitants have to remove from the front rooms of their houses to the rear so as to avoid hearing the fearful expressions of those unfortunate females, we request the attention of the Constabulary to the removal of such a fearful state of the locality </li></ul>
    14. 14. CONCLUSION <ul><li>Social changes in the 19 th century lead to a lot of discussion about women and their place in society </li></ul><ul><li>The Contagious Diseases Act was an impetus to many educated women to campaign for women </li></ul><ul><li>End of the 19 th century saw the beginning of women’s franchise campaigns </li></ul><ul><li>Over the past 150 years campaigns for women’s rights and for gender equality have been running </li></ul>