Chartist women

Women played a significant part in Chartism. 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. In places such as Ashton-under-Lyne and Carlisle, women accounted for one in five signatories to the first Chartist petition, presented to Parliament in 1839, and there may have been as many as two hundred female Chartist organisations.

Susanna Inge
Susanna Inge, Secretary of the City of London Female Chartist Association.

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 no more than “Mrs Smith”, or worse, the wife, sister, or daughter of a named male Chartist. But some did come to prominence as speakers – including Susannah Inge and Mary Ann Walker. 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. Additionally, this page lists a number of articles on Chartist Ancestors which explore women’s involvement in Chartism.

Female Chartist institutions

Female Chartist organisations
From Female Radical Associations to Chartist Societies, Political Unions, and Democratic Associations, Chartist women came together to build perhaps as many as 200 local bodies across the country through which to organise and campaign for the vote. This page looks at some of those groups.

Women Chartists in Scotland
This page briefly outlines the political activities in which Chartist women took part, examines the extent of Female Chartist Associations in Scotland, and lists women known to have participated in Scottish Chartism.

Female Chartism and the press
While conservative newspapers invariably tried to belittle and undermine female Chartists, the radical press was often – though not always – more supportive, as Phoebe Scott explains.

City of London Female Charter Association
This is the story of the City of London Female Charter Association and of its treatment at the hands of an enthralled but horrified press.

Carlisle Female Radical Association
Coming soon.

Female Chartist Lives

May Paris, 1807-1849
Greenwich Chartist activist killed by cholera.

Susanna Inge, 1820-1902
Secretary of the City of London Female Chartist Association. This is her life story.

Mary Ann Walker
Chartist lecturer and activist in the City of London Female Chartist Association.

Helen Macfarlane, 1818-1860
Journalist for the Red Republican, translator and thinker.