Strong women of the past

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You’ve met The Wonderful Wendy Woo Witch Lit Team! Without prompting from me, honest, they mentioned my determination and focus, giving me cause to contemplate where it came from…

My Dad loved delving into our family’s history. I’ve his ancient copy of Debrett’s Peerage (circa 1903), complete with markers, where he’d found prominent, important people who were part of our family. Among others we were related to banking families, Barclays, Hoares and Gurneys, and one of those Gurneys married into another banking family and became Elizabeth Fry.

Elizabeth Fry was a pioneer. She was a major driving force behind new legislation targeting the inhumane treatment of prisoners. Queen Victoria supported her, giving her an audience on more than one occasion. Elizabeth visited prisoners facing transportation, as well as women and children in Newgate prison and brought their plight into the public eye.

Her book Prisons in Scotland and the North of England, tells how she stayed overnight in prison, offering nobility the opportunity to do so for themselves, to witness first hand the appalling conditions suffered by the convicted. Her untiring determination to make a difference led to the founding of the Association for the Reformation of the Female Prisoners in Newgate. This association provided materials for women so that they could learn to sew and knit and once they were out of prison. could then earn money for themselves.

Elizabeth used her position and worked with other Quakers in a bid to abolish the slave trade and the school she opened for nurses was the inspiration for Florence Nightingale, who took a team of Fry’s nurses with her to the Crimean War.

In this year when we celebrate the centenary of the 1918 Representation of the People Act that gave some women over the age of thirty the right to vote, maybe we need to look back further, to the women, mothers and grandmothers who, in turn, inspired the Suffragettes.

Let us celebrate the awesomeness of women through the ages and be certain and determined that, as women of 2018, we stand up for and bring into the public eye, the causes that we believe and care about.

 

 

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