women chartists

Women played a far larger part in Chartism than is generally acknowledged. Although the Charter failed to include women in its demand for the vote, many female Chartists were active as speakers, organisers and demonstrators in support of the cause.

It can be difficult to identify many of the women who played their part. Reports in the Chartist press rarely gave their first name – usually they were not more than “Mrs Smith”, or worse, the wife, sister, or daughter of a named male Chartist.

But we know there were large and active female Chartist organisations in London, Birmingham, Yorkshire and elsewhere.

Some did come to prominence as speakers – including Susannah Inge and Mary Ann Walker, whose stories are told here. Helen Macfarlane was a respected journalist writing for the Chartist press.

Others, of course, were not as well known. Many are listed in the Chartist Ancestors Databank, a compilation of more than 10,000 known Chartists.