Books Early modern history Feminism History London Politics Women's history

Notes from The Many-Headed Hydra – Sailors, Slaves, Commoners, and the Hidden History of the Revolutionary Atlantic


P. 36 Sir Walter Ralegh “developed a historical interpretation of Hercules.. Helped to establish kingship, or political sovereignty, and commerce, under the dominance of a particular ethnic group, the Greeks. He served as a model for the exploration, trade, conquest and plantation of English mercantilism: indeed a cult of Hercules suffused English ruling-class culture in the 17th century.” Some Ralegh noted “apply his works historically to their own conceits”

P. 44 “An Act of Parliament of 1600 made it possible for big shareholders in the fens to suppress the common rights that stood in the way of their drainage schemes… King James organized hundred in the draining and enclosure of parts of Somerset in the early 17th century, turning a commoning economy of fishing, fowling, reed cutting, and peat digging into a capitalist economy of sheep raising…. The ‘battle of the fens’ began in 1605 between capital owners such as Lord Chief Justice Popham (“covetous and bloodie Popham”) and the fowlers, fenmen and commoners. The terms of battle ranged from murder, sabotage and village burning on the one hand to protracted litigation, pampleteering and the advanced science of hydraulics on the other.. Sporadic outbursts of opposition…. Often led by women, attacked workmen, ditches, dikes and tools in Hatfield, on the Isle of Axholme, and elsewhere in the late 1620s and 1630s.”

P. 64 “In 1607 ‘Captain Dorothy’ led 37 women wielding knives and throwing stones against the enclosures of Kirky Malzeard in the North Riding of Yorkshire… Armed women also spearheaded food riots, in 1595 seizing food corn at Wye, in 1605 marching on the Medway ports to prevent the export of grain, and in 1608 going so far as to broad grain ships in Southampton to keep their cargo from being shopped away. During the Western Rising (1629-31) women again led food riots, this time in Berkshire and Essex.”

P. 65 Thomas Edward’s Gangreana describes his “combat against the ‘three bodied Monster Geryon, and the three headed Cerberus,” and “that Hydra also, ready to rise up in their place”.

P. 72 “an extraordinary text about a woman named Francis, a “blackymore maide” who, as a member of a radical religious congregation in Bristol during the 1640s provided leadership especially to the women of the congregation. The text was written by a church elder, Edward Tertill, which means that ours cannot be a simple story.. She was black: he was white. She was a woman: he was a man. She was a sister in the congregation; he was an elder of the church.. Helps to illuminate the dynamics of race, class, and gender in the English Revolution and to show how the radical voices were ultimately silenced. The outcome of the English Revolution might have been dramatically altered: the commons might have been preserved: values other than those of market society and commodity production might have triumphed: work might not have been seen as the condition of human salvation; patriarchy in the family might not have been saved, nor the labor of women devalued; torture and terror might not have survived in the law and its practice; popular assemblies might have proliferated and become open; mutual subsistence rather than individual accumulation might have become the basis of economic activity; and divisions between master and slave might have been abolished.”

P. 82 Francis “asks a sister in the congregation to carry her message to the whole assembly, not to “loose ye glory of God in their families, neighbourhoods or places where God casts them.” She recognises that a neighbourhood may be international, a notion of shipmates, a family of oceanic passages. Francis understands community without propinquity. .. She would have known about slavery and the struggle against slavery. On May Day 1638, for instance, the first African slave rebellion in English history took place in Providence Island. From the wharves, Francis would have brought Atlantic news to her congregation.. We do not know where Francis lived before Bristol.”

P. 112 “On July 7, 1647, a Neopolitan fisherman named Masaniello led a protest by the market women, carters, porters, sailors, fishermen, weavers, silk winders, and all the other poor, or lazzaroni, of the second- or third-largest city in Europe.. Producers rural and urban discovered that the Spanish viceroy had levied a new gabelle, or tax, on the city’s fabled fruit (Goethe believed that the Neapolitans had invented lemonade)… the price of bread fell to rates consistent with a moral economy… Although it lasted only 10 days, the revolt of Naples in July 1647 marked the first time tha the proletariat of any European vity seized power and governed alone… English merchants had recently eclipsed their Italian counterparts in Levant shipping and now sent as many as 120 ships and 3,000 sailors to Naples each year, with attendant desertions and turnovers. Sailors were a major source of information about the the revolt.. In 1649 T.B. published a play entitled The Rebellion of Naples”.

P. 116 “If the Masaniello revolt and the Putney Debates of 1647 represented a high point of revolutionary possibility, the downfall began in 1649…execution of the King and ..

“The execution by firing squad of Robert Lockyer, a soldier, on April 27, originated in the grumblings of unpaid soldiers against what they called the ‘cutthroat expedition’ to Ireland, which escalated into mutiny at Bishopsgate in April … Cromwell, fearing a general rising of ‘discontented persons, servants reformadoes, beggars’ rode to Bishopsgate with Fairfax to lead the suppression of the mutiny, .. When the moment of execution came, Lockyer disdained a blindfold and appealed to his executioners, brother soldiers, to put down their guns. They refused, fire and killed him. Thousands, wearing green (the colour of the Levellers and of Thomas Rainsborough) thronged the streets of London at his funeral.”

P. 150 “The expansion of the merchant shipping industry and the Royal Navy during the third quarter of the 17th century posed an enduring dilemma for the maritime state: how to mobilize, organize, maintain and reproduce the sailoring proletariat in a situation of labor scarcity and limited state resources … one result was a fitful but protracted war among rulers, planners, merchants, captains, naval officers, sailors, and other urban workers over the value and purposes of maritime labor. Since conditions aboard ship were harsh and wages often two or three years in arrears, sailors mutinied, deserted, rioted, and altogether resister naval service… the state used violence and terror to man its ships and to man them cheaply.. For sailors, the press-gang represented slavery and death: three out of four pressed men died within two years, with only one in five of the dead expiring in battle. Those lucky enough to survive could not expect to be paid, as it was not uncommon, writes John Ehrman.. For a seaman to be owed a decade’s wages”.

P. 151 “Even though the Navigation Act of 1651 stipulated that three fourths of the crew importing English goods were to be English or Irish… English ships continued to be worked by African, Briton, quashee, Irish and American (not to mention Dutch, Portugese and lascar ) sailors. Ruskin was therefore correct in saying, “The nails that fasten together the planks of the boar’s cow are the rivets of the fellowship of the world.” .. William Petty “Whereas the Employment of other Men is confined to their own Country, that of Seamen is free to the whole world.”

P. 154 “The multilinguality and Atlantic experience common to many Africans was demonstrated by a back man in the Comoros ISlands of the Indian Ocean in 1694, who greeted pirate Captain Henry Avery, the ‘maritime Robin Hood’, in English. The man, as it happened, had lived in Bethnal Green, London.”

p. 228 [In America] “Multiracial mobs helped win numerous victories for the revolutionary movement, especially, as we have seen against impressment. .. In 1765, “Sailors, boys, and Negroes to the number of above Five Hundred” rioted against impressment in Newport, Rogode Island, and in 1767 a mob of “Whites & Blacks all arm’d” attacked Captain Jeremiah Morgan in a press riot in Norfolk… the motley crew led a broad array of people into resistance against the Stamp Act, which taxed the colonists by requiring stamps for the sale and use of various commodities… Boston’s mob took angry action agains the propoerty of stamp distributor Andrew Oliver of August 14, 1765, then 12 days later turned an even fiercer wrath against the house and refined belongings of Thomas Hutchinson, who cried out at the crowd, ‘You are so many Masaniellos!”

P. 232 “I found myself surrounded by a motley crew of wretches, with tethered farments and pallid visages,” wrote Thomas Bring as he began his imprisonment in 1782 anoard the notorious hulk Jersey, a British man-of-war serving as a prison ship in the East River of New York… Amid the hunger, thirst, rot, gore, terror, and violence, and the deaths of seven or eight thousand of their fellow inmates during the war, the prisoners organised themselves according to egalitarian, collectivist, revolutionary principles. What had once functioned as ‘articles’ among seamen and pirates now became ‘a Code of By-Laws… for their own regulation and government.” Equal before the rats, the smallpox, and the guard’s cutlass, they practiced democracy, working to distribute food and clothing fairly, to provide medical care, to bury their dead. On one ship a common sailor spoke between decks on Sundays to honor those who died ‘in vindication of the rights of Man.” A captain who looked back with surprise on the self-organization of the prisoners remarked that the seamen were “of that class.. Who are not easily controlled, and usually not the most ardent supporters of good order.” But the sailors drew on the traditions of hydrarchy as they implemented the order of the day: they governed themselves.”

P. 246 The failure of the motley crew to find a place in the new American nation forced it into broader, more creative forms of identification. One of the phrases often used to capture the unity of the age of revolution was ‘citizen of the world’. J. Philmore described himself this way, as did others, including Thomas Paine. The real citizens of the world, of course, were the sailors and slaves who instructed… the middle- and upper-class revolutionaries. This multiethnic proletariat was ‘cosmopolitan’ in the original meaning of the world. Reminded that he had been sentenced to exile, Dioegenes, the slave philosopher of antiquity, responded by saying that he sentenced his hudges to stay home… The Irshman Oliver Goldsmith published in 1762 a gentle critique of nationalism entitled Citizen of the World featuring characters such as a sailor with a wooden leg and a ragged woman ballad singer… James Howell, historian of the Masaniello Revolt, wrote in the 17th century that ‘every ground may be one’s country – for by birth each man is in this world a cosmopolitan’.

P. 250 “Blake’s ‘Satanic Mills’ were the Albion Mills, the first London steam-powered factory.. Erected in 1791, this flour mill had been burned to the ground that same year, as part of the anonymous, direct resistance to the industrial revolution.”

P. 272 “Edward and Catherine Despard reached London in the spring of 1790,… found a country where workers had embraced the cause of abolition. Seven hundred and 69 Sheffield cutlers had petition Parliament in 1789 against the efforts of the pro-slavery lobby. “The cutlery wares made by the freemen .. being sent in considerable quantities to the Coast of Africa, and dis[sed of, in part, as the price of Slaves – your Petitioners may be supposed to be prejudiced in their interests if the said trade in Slaves should be abolished. But your petitioners having always understood that the natives of Africa” – and here they would have remembered Olaudah Equano’s talks with them as he lectured on the abolition circuit- “ have the greatest aversion to foreign Salvery. Claiming to “consider the case of the nations of Africa as their own”, and putting principle before material interest, the cutlers took an unusual public stand against slavery, something no English workers had done in almost a century and a half. Joseph Mather, the poetic annalist of proletarian Sheffield, sand,

As negroes inVirginia,

In Maryland or Guinea,

Like them I must continue – 

To be both bought and sold.

While negro ships are filling

I ne’er can save one shilling,

And must, which is more killing,

A pauper die when old.”

Sheffield was a steel town, manufacturing the sickles and scythes of harvest, the scissors and razors of the export markets, and the pike, implement of the people’s war. The secretary of the workers’ organisation, the Sheffield Constitutional Society (formed in 1791), explained its purpose: “To enlighten the people, to show the people the reason, the ground of all their complaints and sudderings, when a man works for 13 or 14 hours of the day, the week through, and is not able to maintain his family; that is what I understand of it; to show the people the ground of this; why they were not able.” The Constitutional Society also declared itself against slavery, much like the London Corresponding SOciety, which.. Was founded early in 1792 is discussions of ‘having all things in common’ and committed to equality among all, whether ‘back or white, high low low, rich or poor.”

P. 292 “ In the modern era, jubilee was employed by the English revolutionaries of the 1640s, including James Nayler and the early Quakers and Gerard Winstanley and the Diggers, as a means of resisting both expropriation and slavery. It remained a living idea after the revolution, to be carried forward by John Milton, John Bunyan and James Jarrington (Ocean).. In 1782 Thomas Spence wrote “The Jubilee Hymn”… born in 1750 in Newcastle. Growing up on the waterfront as one of 19 children… young Spence joined the congregation of John Glas, a Presbyterian schismatic who followed the tenets of the primitive Christian as he understood them.. The bourgeoisie was then seeking to seel of lease 89 acres of the town common, a plan thwarted by the commoners, who pulled down the lessee’s house and drove his cattled away. Inspired by the victory, Spence in 1775 wrote a lecture that he delivered before the Newcastle Philosophical Society, wherein he proposed the abolition of private property.”

P. 302 “the Spa Field Riots in England were led by Spenceans and waged by canal diggers, porters, coal and ballast heavers, soldiers, sailors, dockworkers and factory workers. Among the leaders was Thomas Preston, a Spencean who had travelled to the West Indies”

P. 305 Lord Byron’s maiden speech in the House of Lords (on February 27, 1812, when he was 24) was on a bill providing the death penalty for Luddites: “You call these men a mob,” he said, “desperate, dangerous and ignorant, and seem to think that the only way to quiet the ‘bellua multorum capitum’ is to lop off a few of its superfluous heads.’ He reminded the peers that those heads were capable of thought. Moreover, “it is the mob that labour in your fields and serve in your houses – that man your navy, and recruit you army – that have enabled you to defy the world, and can also defy you when neglect and calamity have driven them to despair.”

P. 311 “By the end of the Napoleonic Wars, roughly a quarter of the Royal Navy was black, and the proportion was probably only a little smaller in both the English and American merchant shipping industries. John Jea, born in Calabar before being enslaved to a New Yorker, was himself working as a ship’s cook aboard the Isces of Liverpool when it was captured by the French in 1810. The black cook was so common as to become a stereotype in nautical fiction, reaching its apogee in Frederick Marryat’s Mr Midshipman Easy (1836). This figure, who was as important to pan-African communication in the age of sail as the sleeping-car powerer would be in the age of rail, carried the news of jubilee.”

P. 321 [Robert] “Wedderburn’s conception of the proletariat arose from the experiences of a life spent in the port cities of Kingston and London. James Kelley would write in 1838 that in Wedderburn’s native Jamaica ‘sailors and Negroes are ever on the most amicable terms.’// Everyone knew Tom Molyneux, the black American sailor and heavyweight boxing champion. Othellor was performed by African American sailors in Dartmoor Prison in 1814.”

P. 332 “The emphasis in modern labour history on the white, male, skilled, waged, nationalist, propertied artisan/citizen or industrial worker has hidden the history of the Atlantic proletariat of the 17th, 18th and early 19th century. The proletariat was not a monster, it was not a unified cultural class, and it was not a race. This class was anonymous, nameless… was self0active, creative; it was – and is – alive, it is onamove.”

P. 338 Thomas Hardy “On March 8, 1792, he wrote to the Reverend Thomas Bryant of Sheffield, ‘Hearing from Gustavus Vassa that you are a zealous friend for the Abolition of that accursed traffic denominated the Slave TRade I inferred from that that you was a friend to feedom on the broad basis of the Rights of Man for I am pretty perswaded that no Man who is an advocate from principle for liberty for a Black Man but will strenuously promote and support the rights of a White Man & vice versa.” Equiano opened for Hardy the doors to the steel and cutley workers of SHeffield. The Reverend Bryant led a congregation that would soon be labelled the ‘Tom Paine Methodists’ and many of its members were up in arms. In June 1791, 6,000 acres of land in Sheffield and its vicinity had been enclosed by an act of Parliament. The commoners, the colliers and the cutlers reacted in fury, releasing prisoners and burning a magistrate’s barn.. Jonathan Watkinson and the masters of the Culters Company calculated their compensation and decreed that 13 knives henceforth be counted to the dozen, since among the 12 ‘there might be a waste’… The people sang in protest:

The offspring of tyranny, baseness and pride,

Our rights hath invaded and almost destroyed,

May that man be banished who villainy screens:

Or sides with big W__n and his thirteens…

But justice repulsed him and set us all free,

Like bond-slaves of old in the year jubilee,

May those be transported or sent for marines

That works for the big W–n at his thirteens.”

Books Environmental politics History Politics

Notes from A Shadow Above: The Fall and Rise of the Raven


P. 149 Ravens, as with other corvids, are notorious for hiding things. Because the birds lack a sense of smell, instead they memorise the exact locations of where they have buried their food in order to return to it later. Ravens are also master thieves, able to map out the patches of rival birds and dig up their caches. A 2003 experiment in the US by Bernd Heinrich discovered that when surrounded by competitors, ravens will wait until the attention of their rivals is distracted, before planting their own caches.

“It is not only food that ravens steal and secrete… the writer Truman Capote was making pioneering observations of his own pet raven, Lola. In his 1964 essay of the same name, Capote describes how he tricked Lola into showing him where she kept her treasures – after his bird stole the false teeth of an elderly guest staying in his Sicilian mountainside home. … When the teeth vanished, Capote placed his gold ring – which he had watched the raven greedily covt – on the kitchen table after lunch one afternoon and hid behind the door. The moment Lola presumed she wasn’t being watched she stopped snaffling up crumbs from the table, snatched the ring and waddled out of the dining room and down a hall into the library. From there she hopped up on a chair and on to the bookshelves, disappearing into a gap obscured by The Complete Jane Austen. Capote lists the items tretrieved from the raven’s cache: “the long-lost keys to my car, a mass of paper money, old letters, my best cufflinks, rubber bands, yards of string, the first page of a short story, an American penny, a dry rose, a crystal button..” and, of course, the purloined dentures of his house guest.”

P. 155 the raven roost at Newborough Forest on the Welsh island of Anglesey … furst started their nightly gatherings here in the 1990s and soon began to arrive in such numbers that Newborough was, at one point, considered the largest roost in the world. On some evenings, it exceeded 2,000 birds. That mantle has since passed to a roost in Idahoon steel pylons supporting 711km of power cable along the Snake River… during the cold months, vast numbers arriv ehere from all over North Wales, England, Scotland, and perhaps even across the Irish Sea – an epic journey that calls into question their supposed reluctance to cross large bodies of waer. They come to Anglesey as juveniles and lone adults attracted by all the same possibilities that prompt humans to leave their homes and travel to foreign lands: love, security and survival.”

P. 157 The trees were planted here between 1947 and 1965, covering a desert landscape of loose-blown sand dunes. Some 700 years ago a particularly fierce storm carried the sand so far inland that farmers were buried inside their cottages.”

P. 167

“Watson is particularly interested in the way humans process the sound of the raven. He calls this the notion of temporal resolution, the speed at which information is assimilated by our brains. The raven, like other birds, processes sound roughly twice as fast as humans are capable of. “We have to slow it down before we can even begin to understand the complexity of it,” Watson says.

P. 186

In a 1962 study of the breeding densities of ravens and peregrines, the ecologist Derek Ratcliffe noted a “proximity tolerance” limit between adjacent nesting pairs. Famously, this tolerance is often pushed to the point of downright hostility.”

P. 189

Ravens in Yorkshire “they protect their clutches against such cold weather by lining their nests with sheep’s wool and laying the eggs deep within them. The female normally incubates the eggs for about 21 days before they hatch. Ravens can lay four or six eggs – quite large cluches relative to most birds – and fledge about three young. The family then stays together until early summer, the young ravens learning to fly off the quarry edges, before they disperse to join flocks of other juvenile ravens. When the young have left, the adult pair will begin securing their territory before the next breeding season.”

P. 204 Charles Waterton “travelled widely as a young man in the jungles of Guyana, making his name in 19th-century British society as a gentleman explorer and conservationist. He managed to cheat death countless times during his travels and returned – wracked with dengue fever and malaria – to his inherited 300 acres, where he established Britain’s first protected nature reserve. While the Industrial Revolution boomed in coal country all around him, poisoning rivers, digging mines and felling woodland in the name of commerce. Waterton erected a vast three-mile long and 4metre high wall around his estate… completed in 1826. Everything inside of it he devoted to the preservation of animals.”

P. 208

The progress of man is measured out in the species we have laid waste to. When the ice sheets melted across BRitain around 10,000 years ago, Mesolithic hunter gatherers set out across these virgin lands with spear, bow and arrow in hand. They killed auroch, wolf, lynx, brown bear, wild boar, beaver and eld, which were all once prolific across the great forests and wildwoods. The UK’s bison, elk and brown bear were wiped out by 500AD, and the last wild wolf in Britain was supposedly killed by a Highland chief called Sir Ewen Cameron of Lochiel, in 1685. Our appetite for destruction kept the ravens close. They knew that human footsteps would always lead to blood. Yet in the centuries that followed, our attention turned to ravens themselves.

The Preservation of Grain Act passed in 1532 by Henry VIII and strengthened by Elizabeth I in 1566, made it compulsory for every man, woman and child to kill as many creatures as possible that appeared on an official list of ‘vermin’, in order to protect crops and liverstock. Bounties for the bodies of vermin were administered by churchwardens. One could expect to be paid 4 pence for bringing the head of a raven, kite or jay. Kingfishers were valued at one pence a head; so to a clutch of six young crows. “

P. 209

By the end of the 17th century, the raven had already been driven from the lowlands of England and Wales. The methods used by trappers included lime sticks (placed around the corpse of an animal which meant the ravens became stuck.” and smearing corpses with nux vomica, the tosic seed of an East Indian tree from which strychnine is derived.”

Books History Women's history

Notes from You Daughters of Freedom


P. 50 “When a plump Protestant Irishwoman stepped of an immigrant ship at the Port of Adelaide in December 1879, there was nothing to suggest that she would rewrite the rules of the political world. Mary Lee, 58 years old, recently widowed and mother of seven, had sailed to Australia on domestic business: to care for her critically ill son John. But he died soon after she arrived, and Mary, unable to afford the passage home, was struck… within 10 years she had become a star gladiator in the largest arena she could find: votes for women… [Adelaide] more women earning money from prostituion per capita than in any other Australian city, and thousands more providing cheap labour for Adeliade;s rapid industrialisation… Mary Lee was in no doubt that only women’s suffrage would improve the social and economic position of women.”

P. 62 By 1897. There were organised and effective suffrage societies operating in all colonies bar Tasmania .. the convergence of feminism and Federation produce the perfect storm for democratic reform.. In South Australia, at least, women would be able to vote in the Federal referendum”

P. 110 

Vida Goldstein after her visit to the US “vowed to help our English sisters and American cousins in their struggle for freedom… Our chief care will be to use our right of suffrage that the men of other nations will soon want to follow the example of Australian champions of women’s enfranchisement. … You want, and must have, the support of the rank and file of working people.. That is how we got it in Australia.”

P. 136 1903 first federal election “Press, public and parliament alike had to admit that the experiment had been a success. Female electors had come out in great numbers. There had been no discord at polling booths and no more than usual in homes. Women had voted in about the same numbers (proportionately) as men, which was not as exhilarating as it sounds, Vida Goldstein had to admit, given there had been a small voter turnout: 1.7 million voters had registered on the rolls, and only 900,000 went to the polls… female electors had not been moved by some great impulse to cast their ballots in a block and hence sweep the polls. Women had largely voted along class lines, not gender lines. It was widely acknowledged that the women’s vote had increased the Labour vote… women who earned their own living and women in country areas were far more likely to actually vote compared to the city toffs… their presence as electors had changed political culture irrevocably.. Alfred DEakin .. added ‘women’ to his standard salutation ‘Men of Australia’. Others observed that not only was the language of citizenship more superficially inclusive, but some politicians had also needed to quickly change their policy stripes… Ida Husted Harper, reporting for the Washington POst, noted that what Australia had just witnessed was the most important event in the history of the world movement towards woman’s suffrage.

AT the NZ general election of 1908, David McLaren’s Independent Labour League won 3% of seats. Canada didn’t even have a federal Labour party until 1917. When it came to Labour’s electoral strength, Australia was in a league of its own….

P. 308

13 April 1910 .. Labor won 49.97% of the primary vote, a stunning increase on the 18% it mustered in 1901 and 36% in 1906… the first time that an openly socialist government had been elected to govern in its own right anywhere in the world. It had campaigned on three discrete virtues: moderation, respectability and competence. … an Englishman, who had recently returned from Australia and watched the elections … reported that voting in the southern colonies was a pleasant family affair … Women’s part in politics is taken as quite natural, the man wrote… They do not neglect their husbands’ meals, nor are they in any way unwomanly in appearance.”

.. Vida received 54,00 votes, an impressive 25% share, but it was not enough.”

P. 322 “Muriel found that her Australian audiences were as enchanted by her account of her time in gaol as any British reading public would be – and she milked it. After recalling the night of her arrest for obstruction, she would step offstage, only to reappear dressed in full prison garb ,,, described in fine detail the tiny, foul-smelling cell it its wooden shelf and sleeping may, its small ventilator clogged with dust… concluded her hairiraising description of her incarceration with the revelation that she had come out of gaol a wiser woman. She kept her eyes and ears open, vigilant for danger but also revitalized for social reform. If Muriel Matters was ever lukewarm in her commitment to helping British women win the vote, prison had set her on fire.””

P. 325 “For Muriel the impeccably well-connected and respected Vida was the key that would unlock the halls of power. She would not have to chain herself to any railings to get a hearing in the big house. After all the picketing and deputations and rallies and rushing and interrupting required to get close to a politician in England, the openness and proximity of Australia’s MPs was a revelation to Muriel. The ease with which the Australian woman can approach the politician and have their wants attend to, she reflected, is conclusive proof of the power of the woman voter. … Muriel: small and fair, 33, cabinet-maker’s daughter, raised in the bush and public schooled, an aspiring actress turned political street fighter. Vida had used nothing but constitutional means to push forward the case for women’s political equality. Muriel had gone to extraordinary lengths to break rules. … Both were described by the press as having the saving grace of humour and a brain of masculine strength. They got along like two peas in a politically charged pod.”

P. 366 by the end of her tour of the United States in October 1910, Dora had seen enough of the faux-philanthopy of American millionaires – with their lavish bequests to institutions to keep present competitive conditions where they areand prevent the workers demanding  radical upheavals – to be convinced that it was capitalism that must be fought (in tandem with sexism) if the world’s social problems were ever to be solved.”

P. 378 “Now Vida knew why Muriel had put herself at great personal risk to stage her most famous militant protest. To Vida, standing behind that iron trellis in the Ladies Gallery, the grille represented the smallness of the English mind, a symbol of British contempt for Woman, the mother of the race… She’d been bred a democrat, and a feminist one at that. The grille was quite simply galling.”

P. 396 April 2, 1911 Census Day

“In Sheffield, Adela Pankhurst and Helen Archdale hosted a mass evasion in Helen’s home at 45 Marlborough road. A total of 57 people sheltered in the eight-room house on 2 April, including one male and 48 female visitors.”

P. 406 “White women were safe in their political rights while in Australasia, but when they left the sanctuary of the antipodes, they were again vulnerable to a precipitous loss of status. Once in England, Australian women were no longer voters – as Nellie Martel, Muriel Matters and Dora Montefiore had been pointing out at every opportunity for the last five years. But their was a further dilemma. In Australia, laws had been passed to safeguard the British subject status of Australia’s married women. Customarily, a woman assumed the nationality of her husband upon marriage, just as her name, children and property became his. In 1903, urged on by campaigns run by the Women’s Political Association and other female-led lobby groups, the Naturalisation Act 1903 created equal nationality laws for men and women… But should an Austalian woman marry a non-British national… and live with im in England, under the British Naturalisation Act she acquired his legal identity and automatically lost her right to British subject status. It was like being transported back to the days of the femme covert

P. 408 “The Australian and New Zealand Women Voters’ Committee… the first time that Australia and New Zealand joined forces in an acronym representing Australiasian kinship. Two sister dominions joined by the political pre-eminence of their female citizens. They would be the ANZWVC… Sir John Cockburn’s wife, Lady Sarah Cockburn, was the founding president. She and her husband had been active suffrage campaigners since moving to London from Adelaide in 1898, when John became agent-general of South Australia. Lady Anna Stout came forward as the heavyweight from New Zealand… the founding objective of the committee was formulated and affirmed: “To watch over the interests of Australian and New Zealand women under Imperial legislation, and to promote their welfare generally from this side of the world. To help forward the Women’s Movement in every part of the British Empire.”

June 17, 1911 “the Greatest Procession Known in History” – the Women’s Coronation Procession

P. 448 “the fact that Andrew fisher’s wife was marching at the head of a continent of Australian women – behind the official Coat of Arms of Australia, in a WSPU-sponored rally – was an incontrovertible no=confidence motion in the British government.”

P. 458 “To Bermondsey, a densely populated working-class borough two miles from the City where, in August, the factories emptied s 15,000 female workers went on strike. The Bermondsey Women’s Uprising, as it became known worldwide, was attributed to the combination of the usual appalling pay and conditions and the effects of the long, hot summer. Spoiled food, rising infant mortality, a general air or irritability and fed-upness. And a mood of female defiance. These women – who weren’t unioned – took to the streets, marching together with banners and a sense of industrial solidarity”… the streets were now their streets. They expected more and better. Prominent among the organisers who came in to lend moral and organisational support was Muriel Matters.”

P. 466 “Andrew Fisher is remembered now for saying that Australia would follow Britain into war until the last man and the last shilling. Who recalls that he also told a captive London audience that a true democracy can only be maintained honestly and fairly by including women as well as men in the electorate of the country?

Or that two weeks later his wife would march..

“Seen in this context, Gallipoli, with its militarist narrative of youthful sacrifice, not youthful optimism – was not the birth of the nation. It was the death of the nation we were well on the way to becoming.”

Books History Politics Women's history

Notes from How Was It For You: Women, Sex, Love and Power in the 1960s by Virginia Nicholson


P. 89 – 1962

“Pain, humiliation, pride, regret, liberation, confusion: for women they were all part of the package, at a time when the sands were shifting fast, and a tide of sexual change was threatening to submerge the familiar moral landscape. 

And – here too – bias, intolerance, hatred, exclusion and injustice came with the deal. It wasn’t till later in the decade that someone found a word that summed up these attitudes: sexism.”

[Pauline M Leet, who contributed a paper entitled ‘Women and the Undergraduate’ to a student forum held in a Pennsylvania college, appears to have originated the term ‘sexism’, in November 1965.”

P. 105

Cuban missile crisis

“Sophie’s sense of apocalyptic hopelessness is echoed in many other accounts, such as that by Zena, a Cardiff schoolgirl:

“I was 14 at the time.. Someone burst into the classroom, exclaiming ‘Russia and America are at nuclear war!” In the hubbub that followed, I sat silent and can now recall the desolation I experienced that my family and friends (and I) would perish, with lives unlived and words unexpressed…”

P. 190 1965 “the traditional understanding of of sin and virtue was on the wane. The rising motion was that centuries of guilt, repression, shame, prohibition, stuffiness and double standards were being replaced by a new age of honesty, openness, spontaneity, empowerment and sexual freedom. In the era of op art, and the Wilson government’s ‘white heat’ of technology from which would emerge a newly forged Britain, the new freedoms appeared to be correspondingly black, white and streamlined.”

P. 192 “The Knack, also 1965, starring Rita Tushingham, was the tawdry, slapstick tale of Nancy, an out of town ingenue who became the object of desire for three misogynistic flatmates. The films ends with a disturbing sequence in which Nancy is portrayed as an unhinged singleton having rape delusions; the blokes, of course, are merely having ‘a bit of fun’. ‘Girls don’t get raped unless they want it,’ said one of them. The Knack’s director won the 1965 Palme d’Or at Cannes… Woody Allen’s hugely successful male wish fulfilment screenplay for What’s New, Pussycat? – a fantasy about a man besieged by lust-crazed females who all want to trap him into marriage – could have won an Oscar for its commodification of women.”

P. 193 Shrimpton’s public appearance at the Melbourne races, bare-legged in a mini-dress with no hat or gloves, provoked a press furore”

P. 210

“A glance through almost any generic women’s magazine mid-decade reveals the social aspirations of the mainstream middle-class wife… dinner parties were a minefield of taste and taxonomy: what cutlery to use for your avocado vinaigrette, which glass to drink your whisky from, what to talk about; how to serve coq au vin, trifle or Camembert with crackers… social rigidities were as coagulated as the chocolate mousse… Since it was first introduced into the UK in 1962, the Tupperware party had been a fixture on the young-wife circuit.”

P. 220

Jenny Diski; “Most women who lived through the early and late Sixties whether as political molls or psychedelic chicks can recall that they were mostly of ornamental, sexual, domestic or secretarial value to the men striking out for radical shores. The Left was never known for its willingness to embrace gender equality, but no more were the ‘heads’ r the entrepreneurs of the counterculture.”

P221 

The culture of male control was not confined to rich, powerful celebrities. The divorce courts highlighted extreme cases like that of a Mr Kenneth Cox who objected strenuously when his wife Dorothy became involved with a local Girl Guide and Brownie group. Having already prohibited Dorothy from getting a job, the dictatorial Xoc now refused to let her anywhere hear the Girl Guides. He also tried to force her to have sex. But both parties’ pleas for a divorce on the grounds of cruelty were rejected by the judge. Male jealousy and ownership of women were seen as legitimate.”

P. 222 “The journalist Virginia Ironside… “For women, it was absolutely grisly… I remember the sixties as an endless round of miserable promiscuity. It often seemed easier and, believe it or not, more polite, to sleep with a man than to chuck him out of your flat.’ And worse was to come. But in 1965 there was no solidarity, no channel and no vocabulary with which to express discontent. The sexual power struggle was still in its infancy.”

P. 257

“Far from being a hotbed of clever talk about feminism and the sisterhood, social life at university was … a cut-and-thrust competition to attract men. Sophie felt alienated by the idea of equality for women: … I thought about women as rivals and enemies and I actually thought that women were slightly inferior. The cool people to be with were the men. I didn’t want to be hanging around with a load of women…. I learnt to be quite good at pretending to be stupider than I was. So, I could still get high grades, and at the same time I could flirt with the blokes and seem unthreatening.”

P. 263 Juliet Mitchell wrote The Longest Revolution when she was 25 years old… draws on historical, anthropological and sociological strands of Marxist thinking to question and explain women as workers, as family members, as mothers, as partners and as fully contributing human beings: one half of the human race. Women were not, she reminded her readers, a minority, but fundamental to human existence… The ‘true’ woman and the ‘true family are images of peace and plenty: in actuality they may both be sites of violence and despair.”

P. 360 “The starry, romantic egotisme-a-deux of the 1960s is permeated with the ideal of coupledom… By the mid-1960s, 96% of women aged 45 were married. Almost half of those women had found a husband by the age of 21. And the days of parental intervention in their daughters’ choices were over, with comedienne Joyce Grenfell catching the 1969 mood: “Daddy and I are delighted that you are going to marry a middle-aged Portugese conjurer, darling. Bur are you sure he will make you happy?”

P. 409 1970 “the Family Planning Association finally changed its rules to allow contraceptive advice to be given to unmarried women. They also, in 1970, commissioned the poster that brought fame to everyone concerned, portraying a man in a jersey whose repentant expression and swollen tummy hardly needed its inspired caption: “would you be more careful if it was you that got pregnant?”

At the beginning of the decade, nearly 60% of girls who had been asked their opinions of pre-marital sex in a psychological survey considered that it was ‘Always wrong’. By 1970 that figure had dropped to under 15%.

Books

Notes from Returning to Reims by Didier Eribon

p. 147 What we must make an effort to understand is what and how it is possible for the popular classes to think of the conditions under which they live sometimes as tying them necessarily to the left, sometimes as self-evidently placing them on the right. A number of factors need to be taken into account: the economic situation, both local and global, of course; transformations in the nature of work and the relations between individuals that these transformations create or undo; but also, and I would be tempted to say, above all, the way in which political discourses, discursive categories, play a role in shaping the process of political subjectivication. Political parties play an important role here, even perhaps a fundamental one, because, as we have seen, it is by way of them that people who otherwise have no voie can speak – by way of spokespeople who speak on their behalf, but also in their place. the role of parties is fundamental because organised discourses are what produce categories of perception, ways of thinking of oneself as a political subject, and also define one’s ways of conceiving of one’s own “interests” and of the ways of voting that correspond

p. 160 Learning to be studious, to be scholarly, with all that involves, was a slow and chaotic process for me: the discipline required – both of body and of mind – is not something one is born with. It takes time to acquire if you are not fortunate enough for that acquisition to have been encouraged in you since childhood without you even being aware of it… What was a matter of course for others was something I had to struggle with day after day, month after month, working anew each day to find ways of organizing my time, of using language, of relating to others, that would transform my very person, my habitus. The process would place me in an increasingly awkward position within my family, to which I returned each evening. .. in order not to shut myself out of the educational system – or to be expelled from it — I had to shut out my own family, the universe from which I came. There was really no possibility of holding the two worlds together, of belonging in any easy way to both of them.”

p. 166 “Friendship cannot escape from the laws of historical gravity; two friends are still two incorporated social histories that attempt to co-exist. And so sometimes in the course of a friendship, no matter how close, two classes come into conflict with each other, simply as the effect of the intertia of the habitus involved. .. when you spend time in bourheois circles, or simply with ordinary middle class people, it is often simply assumed that you come from the same background. .. middle class people always address you as if your existential and cultural experiences have been the same as theirs. .. When my father died, one of my close friends to whom I mentkioned that I wasn’t going to be attending my father’s funeral, but that I noneytheless had to go to Reims to see my mother, made the followign observation: “of course. In any case you will have to be there when the lawyer reads the will.”… What will? Good heavens! As if anyone in my family drew up their wills with their lawyers. What, precisely would they be leaving to anyone… All my parents had were some meager savings, painstakingly accumulated over the years, and deposited in an account at a savings bank… as far as my mother was concerned, that money belonged to her, since she and my father ‘put it away’ tgether, setting aside a portion of their earnings that really would have come in handy for other basic thinsg in life. The idea that this money, their money, would have to be passed on to anyone other than her, even if it was to her children, seemed inconceivable and unbearable to her.”

p. 173 “people from less advantaged classes end up believing that they are gaining access to what has previously been denied to them, whereas in reality, once they have that access, it turns out to mean very little, because the system has evolved and the important and valuable place to be has now shifted somewhere else. … This is what Bourdieu calls the ‘displacement [translation] of the structure.’What has been labelled a ‘democratization’ is really a displacement in which, despite all appearances, the structure perpetuates itself, maintains itself with almost the same rigidity as in the past.”

Books History Women's history

Notes from Elite Women and the Agricultural Landscape, 1700-1839, by Briony McDonagh

p. 25 “there is considerable uncertainty about the actual scale of women’s property ownership. A handful of studies have used rentals and leases to examine female landholding within small groups of manors or parishes. Jane Whittle, for example, demonstrated that female tenants rarely made up more than 10% of landholders on her four north-east Norfolk manors in the 15th and 16th century. Other studies of medieval landholding suggest that women made up between about 12 and 18% of tenants. Amanda Capern has demonstrated that women – most of women were widowed or single – made up 15% of leaseholders on the Jervaiux lands in North Yorkshire between 1600 and 1800, while Sylvia Seeliger has suggested that female tenants held up to 1/5 of the land in many Hampshire parishes between the mid-16th and mid-19th centuries. Yet far less is known about the proportion of land owned – as opposed to tenanted – by women.

It is exactly this deficit that the remainder of the chapter sets out to remedy, exploring the issue of women’s landownership using a large sample of date from the parliamentary enclosure awards.

p. 26/7 “of the 250,000 acres catalogued here, almost 26,000 acres were owned by female landowners, that is 10. 3% of the land in the sample owned by a woman, either alone or jointly with one or more other parties. Female landowners were, moreover, a relative commonplace within rural communities up and down the country. As the data makes, clear, not only was more than one in 10 acres owned by a woman, but female landowners existed in the vast majority of the sample parishes….it seems likely that somewhere in excess of 3 million acres in England were owned by women in the later 18th century and more than 6 million acres in Great Britain as a whole. The tally of female landowners – great and small 0 almost certainly ran into the tens of thousands and perhaps reached upwards of six figures.”

p. 40 While the involvement of middle-class women in business accounting has been increasingly acknowledged in recent years, the contribution of elite women to estate accounting has received far less attention. Yet some elite women kept very detailed estate accounts, rentals and ledgers. One such woman was Lady Elizabeth Dryden, a moderately wealthy widow who managed the Canons Ashby estate in Northamptonshire between 1770 and 1791. Despite an avowed dislike of writing letters, the accounts are written in her hand and cover the entire period of her management. In one book she recorded her annual outgoings against her yearly income, including her tenants’ rents and the sums she raised from the sale of underwood, bark and hay from the home farm and woods. Another book for the same period was organised by tenant rather than by year, and recorded the rents paid to her on a half-yearly basis, along with various memoranda concerning their tenancies. Her writing became increasingly untidy as she grew older … we know from a letter written to her niece that she suffered a stroke in 1790 and the shaky, almost illegible handwriting of the final year’s entry demonstrates that she wrote it after her stroke. This is testimony to Dryden’s sheer determination to record and audit the estate finances, but also definitive evidence that she kept her own accounts rather than relying on her steward.”

p. 41 “Elizabeth Hood of Butleigh Wootton (Somerset) kept the accounts for her modest estate not just as a widow but also as a young unmarried woman and a wife. Aged just 18, Wood inherited the Wootton estate from her father John Periam (d. 1788) and later married Alexander Hood, a captain in the Royal Navy who was killed in command of the HMS Mars six years later. The estate was a relatively small one: in 1806 the rentals brought her just over £1,000 a year, plus smaller sums for bark, corn and livestock and regular dividends from her funds in stocks. The core of the estate inherited from her father amounted to no more than 600 acres in 772, but Hood spent more than £11,000 purchasing land and houses in the neighbourhood, and her son’s portion of the estate amounted to nearly 1,700 acres in 1846. She was thus at the lower reaches of the gentry. .. Entries in the account book suggest that she had begun to keep the accounts prior to her father’s death in late 1788 … probably reflects her father’s failing health, but presumably also the desire by an elderly estate owner  – Periam was then 74 – to ensure his young heiress knew how to manage the estate… Her only brother had died before her own birth and Hood was brought up as the heiress to the estate, but we can only guess exactly what lessons her father provided for her. She was sent to Wells School from the age of 10 .. sometime later Hood wrote on the front cover of the account book, perhaps reflecting the lessons taught her as a young women:

Keep your accounts clear,

Throughout the year;

Let no mistake be made,

Either in paying, or pay’d.”

p. 79

“Lady Elizabeth Monoux was said by Arthur Young to be responsible for introducing improvements following the enclosure of wastes and warrens on an estate belonging to her husband at Sandy (Bedfordshire). The parish was enclosed in 1804 under an act of 1798, and both the act and the award recognised Sir Philip Monoux as the landowner. Yet [Arthur] Young attributed the improvements to his wide, noting that Sir Philip’s estate was ‘entirely under the management of Lady Monoux, who takes much pleasure in husbandry’. She had planted several parcels of the newly enclosed warren with oats and achieved excellent yields with the need to marl, limr or manure the land. In the previous year, Young also reported that she was growing Lucerne on portions of the the new enclosures, again with good results. The Lucerne was used as fodder for horses and was said to be ‘a very fine crop’ which over 20 weeks produced a yield valued at more than £9 n acre after the labour. Young praised ‘the agricultural talents on the intelligent farmeress” and her “very great exertions”.

p. 89 Elizabeth Illive, wrote at least one article for the Annals of Agriculture. “Also known as ‘Mrs Wyngham’, Ilive was the mistress of the third earl of Egremont, chatelaine at Petworth House (Sussex) and later countess of Egremont. Her origins are obscure and nothing is known of her early education, though she certainly had access to the large library of agricultural periodicals at Petworth House and probably also discussed agriculture with the earl – himself a keen agricultural improver – and his many visitors. In her 1797 article in the Annals, she described her experiments growing potatoes on land she had rented, making a careful study of the effect different methods of planting had on yields. Her work was underpinned by rigorous scientific method and demonstrated the value of planting the shoots removed from the chitted potatoes. The article appeared anonymously, the earl apparently having refused to allow her name to appear, though it is unclear if this was because of her gender or her unusual social position as his live-in mistress. [Arthur] Young commented specifically on Ilive’s piece, noting that she as an ‘ingenious lady’ and the article was ‘highly satisfactory, and proves clearly that the method detailed is of real importance.

The potato trials were not Ilive’s only scientific venture. Young – a regular visitor of the earl’s – also brought her equipment for the laboratory at Petworth House and taught her how to use it. In early 1796 she wrote to the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce describing a new method of using levers to raise large weights. Her letter – which included both a diagram and a model – outlined how the workmen on the estate ‘all approve of it very much,’ though she also hinted there had been some laughter at Petworth about her invention, at least initially. Her letter was apparently well received at the Society and the Mechanics Committee awarded her the silver medal in May 1796, the first woman to receive a medal from a scientific section of the Society, though others had previously won for Polite Arts. She was by then heavily pregnant with her seventh child and did not receive the medal in person, instead nominating the Society’s president Samuel More to collect it for her.”

p. 118 The most substantial programme of activities aimed at improving the lives of the poor was probably that undertaken by Elizabeth Prowse at Wicken (Northamptonshire) from the late 1760s onwards.. involved in a range of charitable activities both on her estate and beyond it. Some of this giving was irregular and ad hoc. Examples include providing five of her tenants with medicine after they were bitten by a rabid cat in 1776, helping one of her gardeners get sober and repay his debts, and finding apprenticeships and jobs for her coachman’s seven children when he suddenly left after being discovered ‘making money in what he had no right to do so’. She also made small gifts of money and clothes to villagers, local children and unnamed paupers, all of which were recorded in her pocket expenses. Such charitable acts were primarily reactive rather than proactive, but Prowse was also involved in a number of philanthropic projects which aimed to improve living conditions and educational achievements amongst the poorest Wicken residents in a much more systematic way… while undoubtedly a committed agricultural improver… Prowse was neveretheless uneasy about some of the things her predecessors on the estate had done in the name of progress. She was also aware that the social and economic costs of enclosure and estate improvement were often borne disproportionaely by the poorest in society. Her religious upbringing, staunchly Anglican beliefs and contacts with London Evangelicals and anti-slavery campaigners though her brother Graville Sharp no doubt played a part in shaping her attitudes towards farming, improvement and the poor, as did a close reading of Nathaniel Kent’s General View of the Agriculture of the County of Norfolk. Like Kent – whose Hints to Gentlemen of Landed Property she bought in 1775 and whom she probably met in Fulham in the winter of 1791 – Prowse seems to have recognised agricultural labourers as the very ‘nerves and sinews’ of rural society without whom ‘the richest soil is not worth owning’.

“Soon after acquiring the estate, Prowse embarked on a programme of repairs and improvements to the estate cottages. She paid for the cottages to be rethatched and glazed, and may also have installed water pumps in some of the cottages, as she did in the tenant farms … Prowse was paying for the cottagers’ children to attend a school in the village from at least 1768. She may have founded the school and certainly contri8buted significant sums to the running costs: in the mid-1770s she spent more than £30 a year on the schoolmasters’ wages along with clothes and shoes for the children, which together accounted for between about a third and a half of all spending in the cottage accounts. There were then at least 12 ‘charity boys’ in attendances, as well as several girls who were taught to make lace and cloth.. Prowse was also involved in establishing an early Sunday school at Wicken, which was first held in the spring of 1788. .. she continued to support both the day and the Sunday schools postmortem with the gift of a share in the Grand Junctions Canal Company, which by the 1830s contributed about £10 a year to the running costs.

p. 119 “Prowse … was concerned to provide locally available and affordable foodstuffs to her tenants … very little of the produce from the home farm was sold at the market. Instead, most of it was used in the house or sold locally, either to the village butcher or direct to the tenant farmers and labourers… sold meat and cheese to the poor at a subsidised price.. She sold a beef cow to the poor every winder at 2d a pound and in 1783 gave them the meat for here ‘it having been a hard winter for them’. She also sold firewood from the estate woodlands to the village poor, presumably again at a subsidised rate. Much of this activity was focused in the winter months, when conditions were at their harshest. Importantly, this was also the season Prowse spent in London and it is clear that she sought to improve conditions for the poor even whilst in the capital, something which Jessica Gerard argues was unusual amongst country-house women whose charitable hand-outs were not normally a year-round benefit to the rural poor.”

p. 123 “elite women .. might actively involve themselves in parliamentary politics, whether by controlling voters on their estates, by directly canvassing for particular candidates or by hosting political meetings and debates. One of the most straightforward ways … was to canvas their tenants and attempt to control their votes, either by only installing tenants whose political allegiance was already known or by evicting – or threatening to evict – those who voted against their wishes. Anne Lister worked hard to try to establish an interest at Halifax, suggesting names for Tory candidates to the head of the local selection committee, directly canvassing voters – both by letter and in person – and refusing to let her land to anyone but ‘blue tenants’. ”Regardless of their sex, most landowners expected to direct their tenants’ votes. Yet the moral case for tenants complying with the landowner’s wishes was arguably greater in the case of propertied women: as Lister wrote in her diaries, the tenants of properties women were doubly obliged to vote with their landlady, who was herself unable to vote and whose political views ‘would otherwise not be represented at all’.