We HAVE come a long way…

I have been lately reading a document titled A Brief Summary in Plain Language of the Most Important Laws Concerning Women, by Barbara Leigh Smith Bodichon, London, John Chapman, 1854. [click here for this link to the transcribed text] – it, as the title suggests, is a brief summary of the laws in England as of 1854 relating to women, i.e single women, married women, property rights of married women, separation and divorce, widows, illegitimate children and their mothers, etc.  Much of this one knows from just reading Jane Austen and understanding her life and times, but this is worth a look to see the realities all laid out in black and white …

But there was one section I must share, as it tells it all, and is quite funny in its context, so I offer this as your daily chuckle!

 No public employments:

The church and nearly all offices under government are closed to women.  The Post-office affords some little employment to them; but there is no important office which they can hold, with the single exception of that of Sovereign.

and to that I can only add, “Long live the Queen!”

[Posted by Deb]

3 thoughts on “We HAVE come a long way…

  1. Another book on this subject you might like to try and look at is “The Laws respecting Women as They Regard Their Natural Right or their Connections and Conduct in which their Interests and Duties as Daughter,Wives,Widows Wards etc are ascertained and enumerated ;also the Obligations of Parent and Child and the Condition of Minors etc “(1778)printed by J Johnson.

    I have an original copy but I do know that a facsimile edition was published circa 1971. For a law book of this era it is surprisingly comprehensive and readable. And makes me very glad I grew up in the 20th and not the late 18th/early 19th centuries ;-)


    • Thanks for this reference – and yes, we are all lucky we grew up when we did, and hope that our daughters do not take it for granted!

      I love your blog by the way, having an English country garden of my own, but it is suffering terribly because of blogging…

      Thanks for visiting!


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