Category Archives: Women’s history

Books Early modern history History Women's history

Notes from The Northumbrians: North-East England and Its People

p 70 What is perhaps most remarkable in this period are the erudite Northumbrian women who emerged to take a prominent place in Enlightenment discourse. we should begin here with Mary astell (1666-1731), the daughter of a Tyneside coal merchant and possibly Britain’s earliest similar thinker. she was educated by her uncle on the Newcastle Quayside in Latin French logic and natural philosophy before Mary Wollstonecraft wrote A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. she been took the bold step of moving to London to try to make a living as a writer. In 1694 she wrote a book entitled A serious proposal to the Ladies arguing for greatest female agency and the right to what we might now think of as a career instead of the stultification of early marriage. This appealed to her friend, Elizabeth Elstob, another Newcastle woman who was a serious scholar of Anglo-Saxon history. … this independence of mind was emulated by yet another Tyneside woman Jane Gomeldon, nee Middleton (1720 79), who after travelling in Europe disguised as a man ( and attempting to elope with a French nun) return to Newcastle where she wrote Maxims- a sort of English haiku – and in 1766, to raise money for the city’s lying-in hospital, a book of 31 essays entitled the The Medley, which Jane assumes a male persona to discuss, inter alia, Milton and Homer, … it was a Newcastle schoolmistress, Ann Fisher ( 1719-78) whose A New Grammar: being the most easy guide to speaking and writing the English language properly and correctly of 1745 made her the earliest female author on the subject and that her book ran to 33 editions.”

p. 143 Well-heeled women felt the pressure to conform to traditional gender roles too, as in the case of Rachel Parsons, daughter of the famous Tyneside industrialist Sir Charles Parsons. she was a mechanical Sciences graduate from Cambridge and president of the women’s Engineering Society, and during the war had been a director of her father’s Tyneside engineering company, at Wars end to Charles insisted that Rachel stand down, causing a rift between them that was never healed. after female suffrage was introduced partially in 1918, been fully from 1928, we do see women’s participation in politics increase ( Rachel Parsons stood for the conservatives in Newcastle.) it is telling however that the private lives of women elected in the northeast between the wars gave them atypical levels of Independence. after the former “gAIETY gIRL” Mabel Philipson was returned for the Conservatives in 1923 at Berwick as the north east’s first female MP, there came a succession of formidable women who were all either widows and unmarried or childless. Margaret Bondfield in Wallsend ( who became in 1929 Britain’s first female cabinet minister), Dr Marianne Phillips ( Sunderland), Susan Lawrence ( Stockton), Irene Ward ( Wallsend), and ‘Red Ellen’ Wilkinson (Middlesborough and then Jarrow).

Books Early modern history History Women's history

Notes from Elizabeth I and Her Circle by Susan Doran

p. 41 Elizabeth also took more positive lessons from the reigns of her siblings. From both monarchs she learned much about the art of self-representation. Like Edward, she presented herself as a learned, godly protestant monarch, who was well versed in the classics and the scriptures. From Mary, she learned how to project authority and power while ‘circumcenting masculine stance and military symbols’. So for example, Elizabeth appropriated the images of the biblical women Deborah, Judith and Esther, who had previously been associated with her immediate predecessor. Furthermore, Elizabeth carried out royal rituals that had fallen into abeyance under the protestant Edward but had been restored by the Catholic Mary: the exchange of gifts on New Year’s Day; the touching for the king’s evil to cure scrofula; the royal washing of paupers’ feet on Maundy Thursday; and the celebration of the Feast of St George. Even though some protestants criticized these rituals as superstituous, Elizabeth continued them because they added to the charism of the monarchy. Protestant propagandists, however, would not admit to any borrowings from Mary. Instead, they worked hard to distance and disassociate the new queen from her half-sister.”

Books Early modern history History Women's history

Notes from Women and Politics in Early Modern England, 1450-1700, James Daybell (ed)

p. 42 “Extended networks of collateral relatives, neigbbours and friends also functioned as additional resources for ariscratic widows and wives in trouble. Lady Margaret Beaufort opened her great household at Collyweston to numberous women of this kind. Lady Anne Clifford, her half-brother’s daughter, and her two dughters found refuce with her when she separated from her husband, Henry, Lord Clifford. Elizabeth, Lady Scrope, lived at Collyweston after the death of her second husband, Sir Henry Westworth, in 1501. When her steopson, Sir Richard, disputed the terms of her marriage contract with his father, Lady Margaret intervened and forced him to sign heavy bonds in which he promised to accept the findings of an arbitration panel headed by her chamberlain. … Another of Margaret’s widowed friends, Cecily, Viscountess Welles, visited Collyweston frequently. When she died in 1506 Lady Margaret arranged for prayers to be said for her in her private chapel. Three years later, she bequeathed “a heart of hold with a fair sapphire” to Lady Powis’s daugher in her own will.”

p. 43 “A similar circle gathered around Elizabeth Mowbray, duchess of Norfolk, who retired to the Minories in London in 1488. … the group included her sister in law, Dame Jane Talbot, widow of Sir Humphrey, Elizabeth Brackenbury, coheir of Sir Robert, a follower of Richard III who had died at Bosworth, and Mary Tyrell, Anne Montgomery’s niece. Anne Montgomery died and was buried at the Minories in 1498. Subsequently both the duchess and Dame Talbot asked to be bured near her, a final tribute to the strength of their mutual ties.”

“Decades later, two high-ranking noblewomen, Elenaor, countess of Rutland, and Catherine, countess of Westmorland, who were connected by the marriage of their children, retired together to Haliwell, the London home of the Rutland heir, Hentry, the second earl. When they died in the early 1550s, they were both buried in the nearby church of St Leonard Shoreditch. Margaret, the second earl’s wife and the countess of Westmorland’s daughter, was also buried there in 1559. The internment of three countesses at St Leonard’s turned it into a mausoleum for members of the earl of Rutland’s family. Eventially two of Eleanor, countess of Rutland’s sons, Oliver and Sir Thomas, her daughter, Anne, and her granddaughter, Catherine Nevill, wife of Sir John Constable, were also duried there. Lady Constable’s sister, Lady Adeline Neville, built a monument in the church marking their tombs.”

p. 53 “both rhetoric and pragmatics encourage us to attend to context. They offer concepts of decorum of appropriateness, the fit of the words to the audience and the occasiona, as a critical measure for the value of the verbal performance as social activity. How strongly aware Elizabethan writers were of the adequacy of that fit is suggested when a copy of Lady Catherine Grey’s petition for the Queen’s forgiveness regarding her illicit marriage to the earl of Hertford is sent by her uncle in advance of her advice to Sir William Cecil to guard against there being “onni faute foud with onni word theerin wrytten”. Politeness analysis, as developed within pragmatics, can help to show that how a gentlewoman frames a request depends to a very large extend on the power relations obtaining in the situation. For example, consider the verbal complexity of Elizabeth Cavendish’s request to her mother, the countess of Shrewsbury, that her mother should neither believe nor spread lies about her – “I myght be so bould as to crave at your Ladyships hands that it wold please you to exteme (esteem) shuch falce bruts [rumours]… as lightly as you have don when others were in the like cas”. The complicated redundancy in the framing of the request reflects the power difference between them and the daughter’s corresponding estimation of the repair work required to counter the risk implicit in making the difficult request… Pragmatics is not wholly responsive to the discourse conditions of the Elizabethan political scene, in which a noblewoman’s social rank, marital status, property holdings, relationship to a patron or favoured faction, accompanying gratuity, previous expense laid out for a New Year’s gift for the Queen, all may affect the reception and efficiacy of a supplicatory letter as much as the virtuosity or decorum of its style. In this essay I will eventually draw upon Pierre Bourdieu’s economic model of linguistic exchange, which regards linguistic skill as only one among other forms of symbolic capital affecting how an utterance is received in any field or market.”

p. 212 “one of the manuscripts I am going to discuss describes a kind of sub-university for women in the 1630s made up of women who were sent to be educated by the wife of the Principal of New Inn Hall, Dr Rogers. Another mentions a kind of Nonconformist academy for the daughters of Dissenting families, run by a Mr Hill in Godmersham in Kent in 1671.”

p. 212 “Attitudes to female publication are shown in Robery Boyle’s dedication of his book, Occasional Reflections, to Katherine Ranelagh. Although she was ‘so great a Mistress of Wit, and Eloquence’, and encouraged him to publish his writing, she refused herself to publish anything at all: “her Modesty did … confine her pen to Excellent Letters.”… Katherine Ranelagh joins the list of early modern literary figures who thought Margaret Cavendish seriously deranged – “I am resolved she scapes Bedlam onely by being too rich to {be} sent thereto” she wrote in 1657.”

Books Early modern history History Women's history

Notes from Women’s Labour and the History of the Book in Early Modern England

p. 31 “Lalande’s depiction of rag-pickers – female, itinerant and consigned to the background – encapsulates the identity, activity and cultural status of rag-collectors in Europe in the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and the 18th century. .. In Nuremberg, where the first paper-mill north of the Alps was established in 1390, one early twentieth-century commentator notes more explicitly that “collecting rags frm early days [was] the perogative of women”. .. the low end of the textile trades, a broad range of already low-prestige tasks related to the manufacture, upkeep and reuse of cloth and clothing, which often fell to women.”

p. 35 In 1588, John Spilman, jeweller to Queen Elizabeth, established a successful paper-mill in Dartford, Kent, having acquired a monoloply on rag-collection and the production of paper. A letter of complaint about Spilman dated 21 May 1601, written by the Lord Mayor William Rider and the Aldermen to the Privy Council…[Spliman “began to offer wrong to the charter of the city by authorizing great numberts of poor people, especially girls and vagrant women, to collect rags etc within the city and liberties, who under the pretence of that service, ranged abroad in every street, begging at men’s doors, whereby the discipline of the city was weakened”

p. 39 Rag-pickers feature in two short anonymous plays printed after the closure of the theatres in 1642, The New Brawl (1654) and The Gossips’ Brawl (1655) embed these rag-women in a wider labour force of marginalised women. The Gossips’ Brawl portrays .. the rag-raker Jone Ruggles, the fishwife Doll Crabbe, the tub-woman Megg Lant-Ale and the hostess Bess Bungole – as vulgar, drunk and quarrelsome.”

p. 50 Arguably the most influential account of widow stationers was put forward by Edward Arber in 1894. In the introduction to his fifth and final volume of his monumental Transcript of the Stationers’ Registers, Aerber attempts to “trace the career of a London stationer from his boyhood to his death”… Aerber suggested that an apprentice could marry the daughter of the master printer for whom he worked .. if that did not work out, the young stationer could opt to ‘marry a Printers’ widow”… repeated in the most important studies of women stationers, including those by Pearl Hogrefe, who surmuses that “even the ugliest and most vile-tempered woman in London could have found an ambitious man ready to take her – and her print shop”. .. but the fundamental problem with the story is that very few stationers – and no apprentices – became master printers by marrying a widow. .. overwhelmingly did so by purchasing a printing house and its equipment or by inheriting them”

p. 52 “Remarriage enabled widow printers to remain active in the book trade and to continue to be involved in running a printing house… widow printers who remarried other stationers are thus almost always among the women who printed and published editions themselves”.

p. 57 The most prolific widow publisher from 1540 to 1640 was Anne Griffin, who brought out a total of 68 editions from 1622 to 1649… p 59 “instrumental in the formation of a loose network of widows who printed and published together from 1634 to 1638… widow printers were hiring widow booksellers… while widow booksellers were hiring widow publishers to produce the editions the booksellers had decided to bring out. This network was composed of the printers Mary Dawson, Anne Griffin and Elizabeth Purslowe (but not Elizabeth Allde) and the booksellers Anne Boler, Anne Moore, John Newbery, |Joyce Norton, Anne Vincent and Joan Man (but not Mary Allett). All together, they collaborated in the publication of 26 editions from 1634-1638, 18 of which involved Griffin.”

p. 146 Isabella Whitney “It has been suggested that most of her work was influenced by the prevailing modes and content of 1560s and 1570s poetry; as I will demonstrate, they were perhaps more immediately inspired by a number of titles that were readily available through Jones. In short, Jones’s bookshop appears to have been a familiar haven for Whitney, one that afforded he a library of London’s newest print offerings.”

p. 148 “she may have also had some relationship with John Allde, William Howe and/or Thomas Colwell. In the 1560s, these four bookmen, either singly or cooperatively, brought out a significant number of ballads; indeed Jones and Colwell were particularly preoccupied with financing and distributing verse broadsides as part of a general publishing strategy.. a significant portion of their output… had to do with the occupations of women and/or relationships between men and women, and a significant subset of these appear to address a female audience from the perspective of a woman. All of these ballads have literally been read out of existence, but the Stationers’ Register records a large number of titles that could have been written by Whitney between 1563 and 1571.”

p. 154 ‘Will and Testament’ was yet another product of time spent in Jones’s bookshop; Whitney appears to have composed the oem after erusing The Will of the Devil. The anonymous pamphley appears to have been first brought to press by the printer Humphrey Powell in the late 1540s and its short length, virulent anti-Catholicism and satiric tone were fashioned for England’s first generation of middling Anglican-Protestant book buyters. The bulk of it is dedicated to the ‘Testament and lasy Wyll” of Belseebub”, which consistens of the demi-devil distributing the rituals, articles and suns of his followers back to his followers. These devotees consist of Catholic clergymen, reprobates like usurers and knaves, and a large host of tradesmen, professionals and townswomen. Jones acquired the satiric pamplet in the mid-1560s. Repinted in the late 1560s and in an expanded edition in the early 1580s, it proved to be one of his most popular early offerings and was undoubtedly part of the ‘ware’ that Whitney advertises in her ‘Will and Testament’.”

M. O’Callaghan, 2019, mt Printer must ue somwhat to his share’ Isabella Whitney, Richard Jones and Crafting Books,’ Women’s Writing 26 (1), pp. 15-34.

Books History Women's history

Notes from Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, written by herself

by Harriet A Jacobs, edited and with intro by Jean Fagan Yellin (1987)

p. xxi Both its style and content are completely consistent with Jacob’s private correspondence and with her pseudonymous public letters to the newspapers – which unquestionably she wrote herself.”

p. xxvi “Like the persepctive of other slave narratives, the angle of vision of Incidents is revolutionary; and like other narrrators, Jacobs asserts her authoriship in the subtitle, uses the first person, and addresses the subject of the oppression of chattel slavery and the struggle for freedom from the viewpoitn of one who has been enslaved…. the special subject of this narrative, a woman’s struggle against her oppression in slavery as a sexual object and a mother”.

p. 8 Aged 12, her mistress dies: “She possessed but few slaves, and at her death these were distributed among her relatives. Five of them were my grandmother’s children and had shared the same milk that nourished her mother’s children. Nowithstanding my grandmother’s long and faithful service to her owners, not one of her children escaped the auction block. These God-breathing machines are no more, in the sight of their masters, than the cotton they plant, or the horses they tend.”

p. 11 “My grandmother’s mistess had always promied her that, at her death, she should be free, and it was said that in her will she made good the promise. But when the estate was settled, Dr Flint told the faithful old servant that, under existing circumstances, it was necessary she be sold.”

“At last a feeble voice said “Fifty dollars.” It came from a maiden lady, 70 years old, the sister of my hrandmother’s deceased mistress. .. her wishes were respected and no one bid above her. She could neither read nor write, and when the bill of sale was made out, she signed it with a crosss. But what consequence was that, when she had a big heart overflowing with human kindness. She gave the old servant her freedom.”

p. 12 “Mrs Flint, like many southern women, was totally deficient in energy. She had not strength to superintend her household affairs, but her nerves were so strong, that she could sit in her easy chair and see a woman whipped till the blood trickled from every stroke of the lash…. If dinner was not served at the exact time on a particular Saturday, she would station herself in the kitchen and wait till it was dished, and then spit in all the kettles and pans that had been used for cooking. She did this to prevent the cook and her children from eking out their meagre fare.”

p. 13 “When the mother was delivered into the trader’s hands, she said: “You promised to treat me well.” To which he replied, “You have let your tongue run too far, damn you!” She had forgotten it was a crime for a slave to tell who was the father of her child.”

p. 28 ” I longed for some one to condife in… But Dr Flint swore he would kill me, if I was not as silent as the grave … I was lucky that I did not live on a distant plantation but in a town … the doctor, as a professional man, deemed it prudent to keep up some outward show of decency.”

p. 80 “My children grew finely, and Dr Flint would often say to me, with an exulting smile, “These brats will bring me a handsome sum of money one of these days.

I thought to myself that, God being my helper, they should never pass into his hands… The money for the freedom of myself and my children could be obtained, but I derived no advantage from that circumstance. Dr Flint loved money, but he loved power more.”

p. 143 Aunt Nancy “had been married at 20 years of age, that is, so far as a slave can marry. She had the consent of her master and mistress, and a glergyman performed the ceremony. But it was a mere form, without any legal value. Her master or mistress could annul it any day they pleased. She had always slept on the floor in the entry, near Mrs Flint’s chamber door, that she might be within call. When she was married, she was told she might have the use of a small room in an outhouse. Her mother and her husband furnished it. He was a seafaring man, and was allowed to sleep there when he was at home. But on the wedding evening, the bride was ordered to her old post on the entry door…. She kept her station there through summer and winter, until she had given premature birth to six children. and all the while she was employed as night-nurse to Mrs Flint’s children.”

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.”