How Agnes Bowker Gave Birth to a Cat and the Wild Trial

How Agnes Bowker Gave Birth to a Cat and the Wild Trial

We are searching data for your request:

Forums and discussions:
Manuals and reference books:
Data from registers:
Wait the end of the search in all databases.
Upon completion, a link will appear to access the found materials.

On January 17 th, 1569, the simple, unwed house servant Agnes Bowker of Market Harborough, England, was in the throes of giving birth to a secret child. By her side were the midwives Margaret Roose and Elizabeth Harrison, who helped her through her painful pregnancy. After several hours of labor, her child finally crowned, but to the horror of Roose and Harrison, what emerged was not of a child but the bloodied body of a cat. Agnes Bowker's obscene miracle birth titled her “the mother of monsters” among the very superstitious townsfolk.

As described in the Scotsman, others believed that the “birth of the monster” signified the “alteration of kingdoms” and the “destruction of princes.” Her story soon gained the attention of the Archdeacon's commissary Anthony Anderson, the Earl of Huntingdon Henry Hastings, the Bishop of London Edmund Grindle, the secretary of state William Cecil, and finally, Queen Elizabeth I herself.

This intrigue from the land's highest people led to Agnes Bowker being summoned to the archdeacon's court on February 18 th, 1569. Although the trial would bring forth endless discrediting accusations, her midwives stood as her legitimate witnesses stating that this was all true.

But why would such a supernatural case gain the attention of so many high-ranking officials? Why was Agnes Bowker's story so pressing that an entire court case and trial had to occur? The answers have to do with the context within the period itself and how early science, witchcraft, and magic were viewed.

Agnes Bowker (born 1540) was a British domestic servant and the alleged mother of a cat in 1569. Her trial was a sensation all over England. The original picture was by Anthony Anderson and the cat was red. (Anthony Anderson in 1569 / )

Agnes Bowker’s World: The History of Witchcraft in the 1500s

The infamy of witchcraft has historically charted a complicated relationship with beliefs in medieval Europe. Although it was considered blasphemous to be associated with the practice, it still carried some respect to the ancient superstitions associated with it. Witchcraft and superstition were set in place to be the evil reasons why unfortunate and unexplainable phenomena occurred. It was even associated with outside religions and customs of other countries due to the exotic notions of carrying the knowledge of the unknown.

  • Agnes Waterhouse: The First Woman Executed for Witchcraft in England
  • Hidden Welsh Witchcraft Den And Demon Traps Discovered In Old Home

Scholars Scare and Callow et al. revealed that most learned men believed knowledge of hermetic tradition, Arabic literature , and Jewish texts regarding the Kabbalah were prime sources for individuals practicing the dark arts. However, if they were women, the persecution regarding their reading abilities or even being associated with those who “had” mysterious knowledge suffered a much worse fate.

Between 1484 and 1750, it is believed that over 200,000 people accused of witchcraft were persecuted, hunted down, lynched, burned at the stake , beheaded by an executioner, or drowned. In other cases, townsfolk would take it upon themselves to shame, harass, and publicly ostracize those suspected of witchcraft.

Oftentimes, during the pursuit of alleged witches , many women fell victim to excruciating torture to force their confessions. From the medieval age onwards, witchcraft was viewed as disreputable, so much so that in 1563, Britain made the practice a capital offense.

One of the main prejudices used to hunt witches was in observing poor old women with crooked teeth , whiskers, and strong emotional attachments to cats. These supposed clues acted as proof of an old woman's connection to witchcraft and her unholy marriage with the Devil himself.

This fact is one of the reasons why Agnes Bowker's animal birth was viewed as horror itself. During the 16 th century, fears of witchcraft, prophecy, and magic were rampant across England, as continual persecution of heathens took hold in all communities.

The researcher MacGowan mentions that most believed Bowker's birth to be a sign of the end of the royal family, if not all of England. Because of these facts, Bowker's story becomes far more interesting since she not only received a fair trial but support. What made her different from the many others who were put to death?

The infamous North Berwick Witches on trial before King James in 1591. ( Archivist / Adobe Stock)

Agnes Bowker's Testimony

Many of the original researchers' opinions mentioned in connection with this old case all derive from Agnes Bowker's Cat: Travesties and Transgressions in Tudor and Stuart England , by David Cressy. In their interpretations, however, it appears that each researcher mentions something slightly different from what actually occurred with Agnes Bowker. What consistently remains in every version is that Bowker was called to stand trial due to the supernatural phenomenon of her bizarre and unnatural birthing of a cat.

According to MacGowan, Agnes Bowker was 27 years old at the time of the incident. She was the daughter of Henry Bowker, who was by trade a butcher. Agnes worked as a house servant in Leicestershire, England.

Based on an account by Leila Kozma, a present-day writer, Agnes Bowker was viewed to be mentally ill and had an overactive imagination. After her allegations of being repeatedly raped by a beast and then becoming pregnant with a cat, her fantastic stories became a national warning against the evils of witches and warlocks.

During the court testimonials, Agnes told several stories containing no end of incoherent instances and inconsistencies. Although many would assume, she was a liar with an overactive imagination, several factors gave her the benefit of the doubt.

The first was that that Bowker was known to be mentally disabled, came from poverty, and needed assistance. Another reason was the fear of potential witchcraft and apocalyptic prophecies possibly at play, and Bowker's unfortunate involvement. Because of these facts, there was a dire need to get to the truth behind her strange claims.

Unravelling the Fur Ball

In MacGowan’s account, Bowker's first story discussed her relationship with a servant boy named Randal Dowley. In this story, a demon cat appeared and raped her continually until she was pregnant. Further questioning led Bowker to tell of her abusive employment with schoolmaster Hugh Brady. She was a maidservant in Brady's household, and Brady continually raped her.

In another account discussed by Kozma, Bowker claimed that the schoolmaster not only raped her but also infected her with modern-day epilepsy, once known as the “falling sickness” and that the cure was Bowker’s conception and pregnancy. In this second account, Brady is said to have summoned a demon to perform this action. In both versions, Bowker revealed that Brady's intentions were far more sinister as he hoped to make her a bride for the devil and summon a demon that could take the form of both beast and man to inseminate her.

Although it appeared that Brady was a prime suspect in these allegations, the court was more fascinated by how she was able to give birth to a cat. However, when questioned further, Bowker began to change the story of what she actually gave birth to. In one instance, she claimed that it was a bear. In other instances, it was the skinned cat and even a greyhound.

With Bowker's stories continually changing regarding the birth, the court proceeded to investigate the testimonials from the midwives Margaret Roose and Elizabeth Harrison for further clarification.

Medieval midwives like the two in the Agnes Bowker story got as close as possible to what she gave birth to but even their observations differed. ( Lunstream / Adobe Stock)

The Midwives' Testimonies in the Agnes Bowker Trial

Even though Bowker appeared confused regarding how she gave birth to a cat, Harborough's townsfolk stood by her claims and confirmed that it was indeed the case. Of her defenders, the midwives Roose and Harrison were the most adamant to these claims.

As mentioned in MacGowan's research, Roose was the first midwife to examine Bowker while she was in labor. While she probed to feel the child, she felt a claw scratching her hand. This shocking detail was all the proof required to show that it was indeed a cat that emerged from Bowker's womb.

  • Pointing to Witchcraft: The Possible Origin of the Conical Witch's Hat
  • Icelandic Magic, Witchcraft, and Sorcery and the Tragic Case of Jón Rögnvaldsson

The account from the midwife Harrison, however, leaned more towards the supernatural than first-hand accounts. In Harrison's testimonial, she claimed that a shape-shifting beast continually raped Bowker and that a Dutch witch prophesized to Bowker that she would give birth to a mooncalf, or a calf of a creature that would eventually become massive.

In this discussion, the court soon discovered, at least according to MacGowan's accounts, that even though Roose and Harrison's testimonies defended Bowker's claim of birthing a beast, neither ever stated that they were present during the actual birth.

Once again, the court investigation appeared unable to present a consistent story for the claims made in the three stories: Bowker’s and the statements of the midwives.

In the end, the only evidence that the court accepted was that the dead body of a skinned cat was found in Bowker's possession.

Even the cat body was subjected to an autopsy in the Agnes Bowker trial. ( Evgeniy Kalinovskiy / Adobe Stock)

Next Came the Autopsy of the Cat Itself

What made Bowker's dead cat so significant pertained to how it was conceived and how cats were perceived in medieval Europe. Although cats were useful household pets, cats were also seen as creatures of Satan. Many believed that cats’ solitary nature was due their anxiety when being around the souls of Christians.

Because of the superstitions surrounding cats' demonic nature, it was of dire necessity that Bowker's dead cat needed to be thoroughly examined. For if she really gave birth to the dead feline, then Bowker was in league with the devil.

According to several research accounts, the archdeacon's commissary Anthony Anderson ordered an autopsy of the cat in question. Anderson produced several detailed sketches to accompany the notes and testimonials that would be passed on for review by William Cicil, the secretary of state. During the dissection, Anderson ordered that a second dead cat be dissected as reference to the autopsy results from Bowker's “cat.”

In the records, it appeared that Bowker's cat carried traces of bacon and straw in its entrails and appeared no different than the cat it was compared to. In Anderson's drawings and notes, the cat did not appear new-born, supernatural, or extraordinary in any way.

In February 1569, Anderson's autopsy revealed that Bowker definitely did not give birth to a cat. It was then revealed that Bowker's dead cat very much resembled the cat of her neighbours. A cat that suspiciously disappeared in the months leading up to Bowker's alleged pregnancy.

In one sense, religious authorities, the royal family, and the archdeacon's court were relieved that no supernatural powers were at play. But the question remained, what actually happened to Bowker, and why did the entire town of Harborough, Leicestershire conspire to claim that Bowker gave birth to a cat?

Ancient statue of the rape of Polyxena, Signoria, in Florence, Italy. Ultimately, the truth behind Agnes Bowker’s story was that she was the victim of abuse. ( neurobite / Adobe Stock)

The Motive For Behind Agnes’ Entire Story Changes

Eventually, Bowker confessed to giving birth to a child that died. However, even in her confession, she was unclear whether the child was being cared for or had died during labor. She claimed the baby was buried at Little Bowden. Although Bowker was proven to be lying, the actual truth appeared to be far more sinister. She also lied about being married and having given birth.

According to Kozma's article, Bowker mentioned several stories that consisted of her being mounted by beasts, raped, and continually abused.

However, the sad truth of her story was that she had been sexually abused and taken advantage of due to her mental illness and lowly working-class status. She may have indeed been pregnant and feared social shaming and ostracization for something out of her control. If found out and ostracized she would have been unable to find work, nor be able to receive help from her family or the town community.

From Leila Kozma's perspective, if an entire town aided Bowker in her supernatural fantasy this would alleviate the repercussions that she would have faced if she was a victim of sexual assault and unwanted pregnancy. To claim mental illness and succumbing to the powers of witchcraft would at least allow her to maintain some standing within her community. During that era, all of England would prefer a woman be the victim of supernatural pregnancy than be the victim of unwanted pregnancy, let alone a perpetrator of infanticide.

According to Kozma, up to 3% of children born during the Elizabethan era were, unfortunately, the result of the sexual abuse and rape of maidservants. What made the issues worse was that during this era, it was a common belief that for conception to take hold, both the man and the woman needed to attain orgasm. This resulted in categorizing rape pregnancies as minor offenses and crimes of mutual passion.

In other instances, mentioned by Kozma, women who were involuntarily inseminated sometimes used herbal medicines designed to end their pregnancies. Sometimes they would carry the unwanted child until labor only to secretly sell it to wealthier families who had fertility issues.

Mary Toft, another famous "witch" in medieval England, apparently gave birth to rabbits. (William Hogarth / )

Lessons to Be Learned From the Agnes Bowker Case

Bowker's story, though bizarre, is one of many familiar stories that existed within that time period.

One case that comes to mind is the story of Mary Toft, who, in 1726, had allegedly given birth to a litter of rabbits. Although Toft's story was two hundred years later, it was also proven to be a hoax.

It seemed that for several hundred years, the fear of being shamed among abused women called for a magical whimsy to hide the tragic truth of rape, abuse, and miscarriages outside of wedlock. This possibility is further supported by historical information regarding the birth of illegitimate children in medieval Europe.

  • Papua New Guinea Witchcraft: Ancient Spirits and Deadly Modern Witch Hunts Live On
  • Busakatsi Witchcraft in Africa: Religion Or Criminal Act

Perhaps a new perspective can be taken when it comes to the study of medieval women, witchcraft, and the illegitimate birth of alleged beasts. Instead of seeing them as folktales, superstitious warnings, and hoaxes, one should see cases such as Agnes Bowker’s as the early awareness of the tragedies of sexual abuse and manipulation among impoverished young women.

The supernatural nature of the stories these victims told could be a cover story that hides something far more fearful: the fear of abandonment, judgment, and ostracization just for being victims of rape and unwanted pregnancy. A crime they are powerless to prevent and a traumatic consequence only they suffer from.


Emmeline Goulden [12] was born on Sloan Street in the Moss Side district of Manchester on 15 July 1858, at school her teachers called her Emily, a name she preferred to be called. [12] [13] Although her birth certificate says otherwise, she believed and later claimed her birthday was a day earlier, on Bastille Day (14 July). Most biographies, including those written by her daughters, repeat this claim. Feeling a kinship with the female revolutionaries who stormed the Bastille, she said in 1908: "I have always thought that the fact that I was born on that day had some kind of influence over my life." [14] [15] The family into which she was born had been steeped in political agitation for generations her mother, Sophia, was a Manx woman from the Isle of Man who was descended from men who were charged with social unrest and slander. [16] In 1881 the Isle of Man was the first country to grant women the right to vote in national elections. [17] [18] Her father, Robert Goulden, came from a modest Manchester merchant family with its own background of political activity. Robert's mother worked with the Anti-Corn Law League, and his father was present at the Peterloo massacre, when cavalry charged and broke up a crowd demanding parliamentary reform. [19]

The Gouldens' first son died at the age of three, but they had 10 other children Emmeline was the eldest of five daughters. Soon after her birth, the family moved to Seedley, where her father had co-founded a small business. He was also active in local politics, serving for several years on the Salford town council. He was an enthusiastic supporter of dramatic organisations including the Manchester Athenaeum and the Dramatic Reading Society. He owned a theatre in Salford for several years, where he played the leads in several Shakespeare plays. Goulden absorbed an appreciation of drama and theatrics from her father, which she used later in social activism. [20] The Gouldens included their children in social activism. As part of the movement to end U.S. slavery, Robert welcomed American abolitionist Henry Ward Beecher when he visited Manchester. Sophia used the novel Uncle Tom's Cabin, written by Beecher's sister Harriet Beecher Stowe, as a regular source of bedtime stories for her sons and daughters. In her 1914 autobiography My Own Story, Goulden recalls visiting a bazaar at a young age to collect money for newly freed slaves in the U.S. [21]

Emmeline began to read books when she was very young, with one source claiming that she was reading as early as the age of three. [22] She read the Odyssey at the age of nine and enjoyed the works of John Bunyan, especially his 1678 story The Pilgrim's Progress. [23] Another of her favourite books was Thomas Carlyle's three-volume treatise The French Revolution: A History, and she later said the work "remained all [her] life a source of inspiration". [23] Despite her avid consumption of books, however, she was not given the educational advantages enjoyed by her brothers. Their parents believed that the girls needed most to learn the art of "making home attractive" and other skills desired by potential husbands. [24] The Gouldens deliberated carefully about future plans for their sons' education, but they expected their daughters to marry young and avoid paid work. [25] Although they supported women's suffrage and the general advancement of women in society, the Gouldens believed their daughters incapable of the goals of their male peers. Feigning sleep one evening as her father came into her bedroom, Goulden heard him pause and say to himself, "What a pity she wasn't born a lad." [24]

It was through her parents' interest in women's suffrage that Goulden was first introduced to the subject. Her mother received and read the Women's Suffrage Journal, and Goulden grew fond of its editor Lydia Becker. [26] At the age of 14, she returned home from school one day to find her mother on her way to a public meeting about women's voting rights. After learning that Becker would be speaking, she insisted on attending. Goulden was enthralled by Becker's address and later wrote, "I left the meeting a conscious and confirmed suffragist." [27] A year later, she arrived in Paris to attend the École Normale de Neuilly. The school provided its female pupils with classes in chemistry and bookkeeping, in addition to traditionally feminine arts such as embroidery. Her roommate was Noémie, the daughter of Victor Henri Rochefort, who had been imprisoned in New Caledonia for his support of the Paris Commune. The girls shared tales of their parents' political exploits and remained good friends for years. [28] Goulden was so fond of Noémie and the school that she returned with her sister Mary Jane as a parlour boarder after graduating. Noémie had married a Swiss painter and quickly found a suitable French husband for her English friend. When Robert refused to provide a dowry for his daughter, the man withdrew his offer of marriage and Goulden returned, miserable, to Manchester. [29]

In the autumn of 1878, at the age of 20, Goulden met and began a relationship with Richard Pankhurst, a barrister who had advocated women's suffrage – and other causes, including freedom of speech and education reform – for years. Richard, 44 years old when they met, had earlier resolved to remain a bachelor to better serve the public. Their mutual affection was powerful, but the couple's happiness was diminished by the death of his mother the following year. Sophia Jane Goulden chastised her daughter for "throwing herself" at Richard [31] and advised her without success to exhibit more aloofness. Emmeline suggested to Richard that they avoid the legal formalities of marriage by entering into a free union he objected on the grounds that she would be excluded from political life as an unmarried woman. He noted that his colleague Elizabeth Wolstenholme Elmy had faced social condemnation before she formalised her marriage to Ben Elmy. Emmeline Goulden agreed, and they had their wedding in St Luke's Church, Pendleton on 18 December 1879. [32]

During the 1880s, living at the Goulden cottage with her parents in Seedley, then at 1 Drayton Terrace Chester Rd Old Trafford (1881 census Stretford) opposite Richards parents home. Christobel was born there in Sep 1880,Estelle Sylvia in 1882, and Francis Henry (Frank) in1884. Emmeline Pankhurst tended to her husband and children, but still devoted time to political activities. Although she gave birth to five children in ten years, both she and Richard believed that she should not be "a household machine". [33] Thus a butler was hired to help with the children as Pankhurst involved herself with the Women's Suffrage Society. Their daughter Christabel was born on 22 September 1880, less than a year after the wedding. Pankhurst gave birth to another daughter, Estelle Sylvia, in 1882 and their son Henry Francis Robert, nicknamed Frank, in 1884. Soon afterwards Richard Pankhurst left the Liberal Party. He began expressing more radical socialist views and argued a case in court against several wealthy businessmen. These actions roused Robert Goulden's ire and the mood in the house became tense. In 1885, the Pankhursts moved to Chorlton-on-Medlock, and their daughter Adela was born. They moved to London the following year, where Richard ran unsuccessfully for election as a Member of Parliament and Pankhurst opened a small fabric shop called Emerson and Company, together with her sister Mary Jane. [34] [35]

In 1888, Francis developed diphtheria and died on 11 September. Overwhelmed with grief, Pankhurst commissioned two portraits of the dead boy but was unable to look at them and hid them in a bedroom cupboard. The family concluded that a faulty drainage system at the back of their house had caused their son's illness. Pankhurst blamed the poor conditions of the neighbourhood, and the family moved to a more affluent middle class district at Russell Square. She was soon pregnant once more and declared that the child was "Frank coming again". [36] She gave birth to a son on 7 July 1889 and named him Henry Francis in honour of his deceased brother. [34]

Pankhurst made their Russell Square home into a centre for political intellectuals and activists, including, "Socialists, Protesters, Anarchists, Suffragists, Free Thinkers, Radicals and Humanitarians of all schools." [37] She took pleasure in decorating the house – especially with furnishings from Asia – and clothing the family in tasteful apparel. Her daughter Sylvia later wrote: "Beauty and appropriateness in her dress and household appointments seemed to her at all times an indispensable setting to public work." [37]

The Pankhursts hosted a variety of guests including Indian MP Dadabhai Naoroji, socialist activists Herbert Burrows and Annie Besant, and French anarchist Louise Michel. [37]

In 1888, Britain's first nationwide coalition of groups advocating women's right to vote, the National Society for Women's Suffrage (NSWS), split after a majority of members decided to accept organisations affiliated with political parties. Angry at this decision, some of the group's leaders, including Lydia Becker and Millicent Fawcett, stormed out of the meeting and created an alternative organisation committed to the "old rules," called the Great College Street Society after the location of its headquarters. Pankhurst aligned herself with the "new rules" group, which became known as the Parliament Street Society (PSS). Some members of the PSS favoured a piecemeal approach to gaining the vote. Because it was often assumed that married women did not need the vote since their husbands "voted for them," some PSS members felt that the vote for single women and widows was a practical step along the path to full suffrage. When the reluctance within the PSS to advocate on behalf of married women became clear, Pankhurst and her husband helped organise another new group dedicated to voting rights for all women – married and unmarried. [38]

The inaugural meeting of the Women's Franchise League (WFL) was held on 25 July 1889, at the Pankhurst home in Russell Square. Early members of the WFL included Josephine Butler, leader of the Ladies National Association for the Repeal of the Contagious Diseases Acts the Pankhursts' friend Elizabeth Wolstenholme Elmy and Harriot Eaton Stanton Blatch, daughter of US suffragist Elizabeth Cady Stanton. [39]

The WFL was considered a radical organisation, since in addition to women's suffrage it supported equal rights for women in the areas of divorce and inheritance. It also advocated trade unionism and sought alliances with socialist organisations. The more conservative group that emerged from the NSWS split spoke out against what they called the "extreme left" wing of the movement. [40] The WFL reacted by ridiculing the "Spinster Suffrage party" [41] and insisting that a wider assault on social inequity was required. The group's radicalism caused some members to leave both Blatch and Elmy resigned from the WFL. The group fell apart one year later. [42]

Pankhurst's shop never succeeded and he had trouble attracting business in London. With the family's finances in jeopardy, Richard travelled regularly to northwest England, where most of his clients were. In 1893 the Pankhursts closed the store and returned to Manchester. They stayed for several months in the seaside town of Southport, then moved briefly to the village of Disley and finally settled into a house in Manchester's Victoria Park. The girls were enrolled in Manchester Girls' High School, where they felt confined by the large student population and strictly regimented schedule. [43]

Pankhurst began to work with several political organisations, distinguishing herself for the first time as an activist in her own right and gaining respect in the community. One biographer describes this period as her "emergence from Richard's shadow." [44] In addition to her work on behalf of women's suffrage, she became active with the Women's Liberal Federation (WLF), an auxiliary of the Liberal Party. She quickly grew disenchanted with the group's moderate positions, however, especially its unwillingness to support Irish Home Rule and the aristocratic leadership of Archibald Primrose. [45]

In 1888 Pankhurst had met and befriended Keir Hardie, a socialist from Scotland. He was elected to parliament in 1891 and two years later helped to create the Independent Labour Party (ILP). Excited about the range of issues which the ILP pledged to confront, Pankhurst resigned from the WFL and applied to join the ILP. The local branch refused her admission on the grounds of her sex, but she eventually joined the ILP nationally. Christabel later wrote of her mother's enthusiasm for the party and its organising efforts: "In this movement she hoped there might be the means of righting every political and social wrong." [45] [46]

One of her first activities with the ILP found Pankhurst distributing food to poor men and women through the Committee for the Relief of the Unemployed. In December 1894 she was elected to the position of Poor Law Guardian in Chorlton-on-Medlock. She was appalled by the conditions she witnessed first-hand in the Manchester workhouse:

The first time I went into the place I was horrified to see little girls seven and eight years old on their knees scrubbing the cold stones of the long corridors . bronchitis was epidemic among them most of the time . I found that there were pregnant women in that workhouse, scrubbing floors, doing the hardest kind of work, almost until their babies came into the world . Of course the babies are very badly protected . These poor, unprotected mothers and their babies I am sure were potent factors in my education as a militant. [47]

Pankhurst immediately began to change these conditions, and established herself as a successful voice of reform on the Board of Guardians. Her chief opponent was a passionate man named Mainwaring, known for his rudeness. Recognising that his loud anger was hurting his chances of persuading those aligned with Pankhurst, he kept a note nearby during meetings: "Keep your temper!" [48]

After helping her husband with another unsuccessful parliamentary campaign, Pankhurst faced legal troubles in 1896 when she and two men violated a court order against ILP meetings at Boggart Hole Clough. With Richard's volunteering his time as legal counsel, they refused to pay fines, and the two men spent a month in prison. The punishment was never ordered for Pankhurst, however, possibly because the magistrate feared public backlash against the imprisonment of a woman so respected in the community. Asked by an ILP reporter if she were prepared to spend time in prison, Pankhurst replied: "Oh, yes, quite. It wouldn't be so very dreadful, you know, and it would be a valuable experience." [49] Although ILP meetings were eventually permitted, the episode was a strain on Pankhurst's health and caused loss of income for their family. [50]

Richard's death Edit

During the struggle at Boggart Hole Clough, Richard Pankhurst began to experience severe stomach pains. He had developed a gastric ulcer, and his health deteriorated in 1897. The family moved briefly to Mobberley, with the hope that country air would help his condition. He soon felt well again, and the family returned to Manchester in the autumn. In the summer of 1898, he suffered a sudden relapse. Emmeline Pankhurst had taken their oldest daughter Christabel to Corsier, Switzerland, to visit her old friend Noémie. A telegram arrived from Richard, reading: "I am not well. Please come home, my love." [51] Leaving Christabel with Noémie, Pankhurst returned immediately to England. On 5 July, while on a train from London to Manchester, she noticed a newspaper announcing the death of Richard Pankhurst. [52]

The loss of her husband left Pankhurst with new responsibilities and a significant amount of debt. She moved the family to a smaller house at 62 Nelson Street, resigned from the Board of Guardians, and was given a paid position as Registrar of Births and Deaths in Chorlton. This work gave her more insight into the conditions of women in the region. She wrote in her autobiography: "They used to tell me their stories, dreadful stories some of them, and all of them pathetic with that patient and uncomplaining pathos of poverty." [53] Her observations of the differences between the lives of men and women, for example in relation to illegitimacy, reinforced her conviction that women needed the right to vote before their conditions could improve. In 1900 she was elected to the Manchester School Board and saw new examples of women suffering unequal treatment and limited opportunities. During this time she also re-opened her store, with the hope that it would provide additional income for the family. [53] [54]

The individual identities of the Pankhurst children began to emerge around the time of their father's death. Before long they were all involved in the struggle for women's suffrage. Christabel enjoyed a privileged status among the daughters, as Sylvia noted in 1931: "She was our mother's favourite we all knew it, and I, for one, never resented the fact." [55] Christabel did not share her mother's fervour for political work, however, until she befriended the suffrage activists Esther Roper and Eva Gore-Booth. She soon became involved with the suffrage movement and joined her mother at speaking events. [56] Sylvia took lessons from a respected local artist and soon received a scholarship to the Manchester School of Art. She went on to study art in Florence and Venice. [57] The younger children, Adela and Harry, had difficulty finding a path for their studies. Adela was sent to a local boarding school, where she was cut off from her friends and contracted head lice. Harry also had difficulty at school he suffered from measles and vision problems. [58]

By 1903, Pankhurst believed that years of moderate speeches and promises about women's suffrage from members of parliament (MPs) had yielded no progress. Although suffrage bills in 1870, 1886, and 1897 had shown promise, each was defeated. She doubted that political parties, with their many agenda items, would ever make women's suffrage a priority. She even broke with the ILP when it refused to focus on Votes for Women. It was necessary to abandon the patient tactics of existing advocacy groups, she believed, in favour of more militant actions. Thus on 10 October 1903 Pankhurst and several colleagues founded the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU), an organisation open only to women and focused on direct action to win the vote. [60] "Deeds," she wrote later, "not words, was to be our permanent motto." [4]

The group's early militancy took non-violent forms. In addition to making speeches and gathering petition signatures, the WSPU organised rallies and published a newsletter called Votes for Women. The group also convened a series of "Women's Parliaments" to coincide with official government sessions. When a bill for women's suffrage was filibustered on 12 May 1905, Pankhurst and other WSPU members began a loud protest outside the Parliament building. Police immediately forced them away from the building, where they regrouped and demanded passage of the bill. Although the bill was never resurrected, Pankhurst considered it a successful demonstration of militancy's power to capture attention. [61] Pankhurst declared in 1906: "We are at last recognized as a political party we are now in the swim of politics, and are a political force." [62]

Before long, all three of her daughters became active with the WSPU. Christabel was arrested after spitting at a policeman during a meeting of the Liberal Party in October 1905 [63] Adela and Sylvia were arrested a year later during a protest outside Parliament. [64] Pankhurst was arrested for the first time in February 1908, when she tried to enter Parliament to deliver a protest resolution to Prime Minister H. H. Asquith. She was charged with obstruction and sentenced to six weeks in prison. She spoke out against the conditions of her confinement, including vermin, meagre food, and the "civilised torture of solitary confinement and absolute silence" to which she and others were ordered. [65] Pankhurst saw imprisonment as a means to publicise the urgency of women's suffrage in June 1909 she struck a police officer twice in the face to ensure she would be arrested. Pankhurst was arrested seven times before women's suffrage was approved. During her trial on 21 October 1908 she told the court: "We are here not because we are law-breakers we are here in our efforts to become law-makers." [66] [67] [68]

The exclusive focus of the WSPU on votes for women was another hallmark of its militancy. While other organizations agreed to work with individual political parties, the WSPU insisted on separating itself from – and in many cases opposing – parties which did not make women's suffrage a priority. The group protested against all candidates belonging to the party of the ruling government since it refused to pass women's suffrage legislation. This brought them into immediate conflict with Liberal Party organisers, particularly since many Liberal candidates supported women's suffrage. (One early target of WSPU opposition was future Prime Minister Winston Churchill his opponent attributed Churchill's defeat in part to "those ladies who are sometimes laughed at.") [69]

Members of the WSPU were sometimes heckled and derided for spoiling elections for Liberal candidates. On 18 January 1908, Pankhurst and her associate Nellie Martel were attacked by an all-male crowd of Liberal supporters who blamed the WSPU for costing them a recent by-election to the Conservative candidate. The men threw clay, rotten eggs, and stones packed in snow the women were beaten and Pankhurst's ankle was severely bruised. [70] Similar tensions later formed with Labour. Until party leaders made the vote for women a priority, however, the WSPU vowed to continue its militant activism. Pankhurst and others in the union saw party politics as distracting to the goal of women's suffrage and criticised other organisations for putting party loyalty ahead of women's votes. [71]

As the WSPU gained recognition and notoriety for its actions, Pankhurst resisted efforts to democratise the organisation itself. In 1907 a small group of members led by Teresa Billington-Greig called for more involvement from the rank-and-file suffragettes at the union's annual meetings. In response, Pankhurst announced at a WSPU meeting that elements of the organisation's constitution relating to decision-making were void and cancelled the annual meetings. She also insisted that a small committee chosen by the members in attendance be allowed to co-ordinate WSPU activities. Pankhurst and her daughter Christabel were chosen (along with Mabel Tuke and Emmeline Pethick Lawrence) as members of the new committee. Frustrated, several members including Billington-Greig and Charlotte Despard quit to form their own organisation, the Women's Freedom League. [72] In her 1914 autobiography Pankhurst dismissed criticism of the WSPU's leadership structure:

if at any time a member, or a group of members, loses faith in our policy if any one begins to suggest that some other policy ought to be substituted, or if she tries to confuse the issue by adding other policies, she ceases at once to be a member. Autocratic? Quite so. But, you may object, a suffrage organisation ought to be democratic. Well the members of the W. S. P. U. do not agree with you. We do not believe in the effectiveness of the ordinary suffrage organisation. The W. S. P. U. is not hampered by a complexity of rules. We have no constitution and by-laws nothing to be amended or tinkered with or quarrelled over at an annual meeting . The W. S. P. U. is simply a suffrage army in the field. [73]

Tactical intensification Edit

On 26 June 1908, 500,000 activists rallied in Hyde Park to demand votes for women Asquith and leading MPs responded with indifference. Angered by this intransigence and abusive police activity, some WSPU members increased the severity of their actions. Soon after the rally, twelve women gathered in Parliament Square and tried to deliver speeches for women's suffrage. Police officers seized several of the speakers and pushed them into a crowd of opponents who had gathered nearby. Frustrated, two WSPU members – Edith New and Mary Leigh – went to 10 Downing Street and hurled rocks at the windows of the Prime Minister's home. They insisted their act was independent of the WSPU command, but Pankhurst expressed her approval of the action. When a magistrate sentenced New and Leigh to two months' imprisonment, Pankhurst reminded the court of how various male political agitators had broken windows to win legal and civil rights throughout Britain's history. [74]

In 1909 the hunger strike was added to the WSPU's repertoire of resistance. On 24 June Marion Wallace Dunlop was arrested for writing an excerpt from the Bill of Rights (1688 or 1689) on a wall in the House of Commons. Angered by the conditions of the jail, Dunlop went on a hunger strike. When it proved effective, fourteen women imprisoned for smashing windows began to fast. WSPU members soon became known around the country for holding prolonged hunger strikes to protest their incarceration. Prison authorities frequently force-fed the women, using tubes inserted through the nose or mouth. The painful techniques (which, in the case of mouth-feeding, required the use of steel gags to force the mouth open) brought condemnation from suffragists and medical professionals. [75]

These tactics caused some tension between the WSPU and more moderate organizations, which had coalesced into the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies (NUWSS). That group's leader, Millicent Fawcett, originally hailed WSPU members for their courage and dedication to the cause. By 1912, however, she declared that hunger strikes were mere publicity stunts and that militant activists were "the chief obstacles in the way of the success of the suffrage movement in the House of Commons." [76] The NUWSS refused to join a march of women's suffrage groups after demanding without success that the WSPU end its support of property destruction. Fawcett's sister Elizabeth Garrett Anderson later resigned from the WSPU for similar reasons. [77]

Press coverage was mixed many journalists noted that crowds of women responded positively to speeches by Pankhurst, while others condemned her radical approach to the issue. The Daily News urged her to endorse a more moderate approach, and other press outlets condemned the breaking of windows by WSPU members. In 1906 Daily Mail journalist Charles Hands referred to militant women using the diminutive term "suffragette" (rather than the standard "suffragist"). Pankhurst and her allies seized the term as their own and used it to differentiate themselves from moderate groups. [78]

The last half of the century's first decade was a time of sorrow, loneliness, and constant work for Pankhurst. In 1907 she sold her home in Manchester and began an itinerant lifestyle, moving from place to place as she spoke and marched for women's suffrage. She stayed with friends and in hotels, carrying her few possessions in suitcases. Although she was energized by the struggle–and found joy in giving energy to others– her constant travelling meant separation from her children, especially Christabel, who had become the national coordinator of the WSPU. In 1909, as Pankhurst planned a speaking tour of the United States, Henry was paralyzed after his spinal cord became inflamed. She hesitated to leave the country while he was ill, but she needed money to pay for his treatment and the tour promised to be lucrative. On her return from a successful tour, she sat by Henry's bedside as he died on 5 January 1910. Five days later she buried her son, then spoke before 5,000 people in Manchester. Liberal Party supporters who had come to heckle her remained quiet as she addressed the crowd. [79]

Conciliation, force-feeding attempt, and arson Edit

After the Liberal losses in the 1910 elections, ILP member and journalist Henry Brailsford helped organise a Conciliation Committee for Women's Suffrage, which gathered 54 MPs from various parties. The group's Conciliation Bill looked to be a narrowly defined but still significant possibility to achieve the vote for some women. Thus the WSPU agreed to suspend its support for window-breaking and hunger strikes while it was being negotiated. When it became clear that the bill would not pass, Pankhurst declared: "If the Bill, in spite of our efforts, is killed by the Government, then . I have to say there is an end to the truce." [80] When it was defeated, Pankhurst led a protest march of 300 women to Parliament Square on 18 November. They were met with aggressive police response, directed by Home Secretary Winston Churchill: officers punched the marchers, twisted arms, and pulled on women's breasts. [81] Although Pankhurst was allowed to enter Parliament, Prime Minister Asquith refused to meet her. The incident became known as Black Friday. [81] Her sister Mary Jane, who had attended the protest, too, was arrested for the third time, a few days later. She was sentenced to a month of imprisonment. On Christmas Day she died at the home of their brother Herbert Goulden, two days after her release. [35]

As subsequent Conciliation Bills were introduced, WSPU leaders advocated a halt to militant tactics. Aileen Preston was appointed as Pankhurst's lady chauffeuse in April 1911, to drive her around the country to help spread the suffrage message. [83] [84] In March 1912 the second bill was in jeopardy and Pankhurst joined a fresh outbreak of window-smashing. Extensive property damage led police to raid the WSPU offices. Pankhurst and Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence were tried at the Old Bailey and convicted of conspiracy to commit property damage. Christabel, who by 1912 was the chief coordinator for the organisation, was also wanted by police. She fled to Paris, where she directed WSPU strategy in exile. Inside Holloway Prison Emmeline Pankhurst staged her first hunger strike to improve conditions for other suffragettes in nearby cells she was quickly joined by Pethick-Lawrence and other WSPU members. She described in her autobiography the trauma caused by force-feeding during the strike: "Holloway became a place of horror and torment. Sickening scenes of violence took place almost every hour of the day, as the doctors went from cell to cell performing their hideous office." [85] When prison officials tried to enter her cell, Pankhurst raised a clay jug over her head and announced: "If any of you dares so much as to take one step inside this cell I shall defend myself." [86] [87]

Pankhurst was spared further force-feeding attempts after this incident, but she continued to violate the law and – when imprisoned – starve herself in protest. During the following two years she was arrested numerous times but was frequently released after several days because of her ill-health. Later, the Asquith government enacted the Cat and Mouse Act, which allowed similar releases for other suffragettes facing ill-health due to hunger strikes. Prison officials recognised the potential public relations disaster that would erupt if the popular WSPU leader were force-fed or allowed to suffer extensively in jail. Still, police officers arrested her during talks and as she marched. She tried to evade police harassment by wearing disguises and eventually the WSPU established a jujutsu-trained female bodyguard squad to physically protect her against the police. She and other escorts were targeted by police, resulting in violent scuffles as officers tried to detain Pankhurst. [88]

In 1912 WSPU members adopted arson as another tactic to win the vote. After Prime Minister Asquith had visited the Theatre Royal in Dublin, suffragette activists Gladys Evans, Mary Leigh, Lizzie Baker and Mabel Capper of Oxford Street, Manchester attempted to cause an explosion using gunpowder and benzine, which resulted in minimal damage. During the same evening Mary Leigh threw an axe at the carriage containing John Redmond (leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party), the Lord Mayor, and Asquith. [89] Over the next two years women set fire to a refreshments building in Regent's Park, an orchid house at Kew Gardens, pillar boxes, and a railway carriage. Emily Davison threw herself under the Kings Horse at the Epsom Derby in 1913. Her funeral drew 55,000 attendees along the streets and at the funeral. This gave significant publicity to the movement. Although Pankhurst confirmed that these women had not been commanded by her or Christabel, they both assured the public that they supported the arsonist suffragettes. There were similar incidents around the country. One WSPU member, for example, put a small hatchet into the Prime Minister's carriage inscribed with the words: "Votes for Women," [90] and other suffragettes used acid to burn the same slogan into golf courses used by MPs. [91] In 1914 Mary Richardson slashed the Velasquez painting Rokeby Venus to protest against Pankhurst's imprisonment. [92]

Defection and dismissal Edit

The WSPU's approval of property destruction led to the departure of several important members. The first were Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence and her husband Frederick. They had long been integral members of the group's leadership but found themselves in conflict with Christabel about the wisdom of such volatile tactics. After returning from a vacation in Canada they found that Pankhurst had expelled them from the WSPU. The pair found the decision appalling, but to avoid a schism in the movement they continued to praise Pankhurst and the organisation in public. Around the same time, Emmeline's daughter Adela left the group. She disapproved of WSPU endorsement of property destruction and felt that a heavier emphasis on socialism was necessary. Adela's relationship with her family – especially Christabel – was also strained as a result. [93]

The deepest rift in the Pankhurst family came in November 1913 when Sylvia spoke at a meeting of socialists and trade unionists in support of trade union organiser Jim Larkin. She had been working with the East London Federation of Suffragettes (ELFS), a local branch of the WSPU which had a close relationship with socialists and organised labour. The close connection to labour groups and Sylvia's appearance on stage with Frederick Pethick-Lawrence – who also addressed the crowd – convinced Christabel that her sister was organising a group that might challenge the WSPU in the suffrage movement. The dispute became public, and members of groups including the WSPU, ILP, and ELFS braced themselves for a showdown. [95]

In January Sylvia was summoned to Paris, where Emmeline and Christabel were waiting. Their mother had just returned from another tour of the US, and Sylvia had just been released from prison. All three women were exhausted and stressed, which added considerably to the tension. In her 1931 book The Suffrage Movement Sylvia describes Christabel as an unreasonable figure, haranguing her for refusing to toe the WSPU line:

She turned to me. "You have your own ideas. We do not want that we want all our women to take their instructions and walk in step like an army!" Too tired, too ill to argue, I made no reply. I was oppressed by a sense of tragedy, grieved by her ruthlessness. Her glorification of autocracy seemed to me remote indeed from the struggle we were waging, the grim fight even now proceeding in the cells. I thought of many others who had been thrust aside for some minor difference. [96]

With their mother's blessing, Christabel ordered Sylvia's group to dissociate from the WSPU. Pankhurst tried to persuade the ELFS to remove the word "suffragettes" from its name, since it was inextricably linked to the WSPU. When Sylvia refused, her mother switched to fierce anger in a letter:

You are unreasonable, always have been & I fear always will be. I suppose you were made so! . Had you chosen a name which we could approve we could have done much to launch you & advertise your society by name. Now you must take your own way of doing so. I am sorry but you make your own difficulties by an incapacity to look at situations from other people's point of view as well as your own. Perhaps in time you will learn the lessons that we all have to learn in life. [97]

Adela, unemployed and unsure of her future, had become a worry for Pankhurst as well. She decided that Adela should move to Australia, and paid for her relocation. They never saw one another again. [98]

The Women's Party Edit

In November 1917 the WSPU's weekly newspaper announced that the WSPU was to become the Women's Party. Twelve months later on Tuesday 19 November at the Queen's Hall in London Emmeline Pankhurst said that her daughter Christabel would be their candidate at the forthcoming General Election, the first at which women could stand as candidates. They didn't say which constituency they would fight but a few days later Westbury in Wiltshire was identified. Emmeline lobbied Prime Minister David Lloyd George to ensure Christabel would have coalition backing. However, as these discussions were taking place the Pankhurst's switched their attention to Smethwick in Staffordshire. The Coalition had already settled on a local candidate, Major Samuel Nock Thompson, but Bonar Law, the Conservative leader, was persuaded to ask Thompson to withdraw. Significantly, Christabel was not issued with a formal letter of support from the two leaders, the Coalition Coupon. Christabel then had a straight fight with the Labour candidate John Davison and lost by 775 votes. The Women's Party fought no other elections and closed soon after. [99]

When the First World War began in August 1914, Emmeline and Christabel considered that the threat posed by Germany was a danger to all humanity, and that the British government needed the support of all men. They persuaded the WSPU to halt all militant suffrage activities until fighting on the European mainland ended. It was no time for dissent or agitation Christabel wrote later: "This was national militancy. As Suffragists we could not be pacifists at any price." [100] A truce with the government was established, all WSPU prisoners were released, and Christabel returned to London. Emmeline and Christabel set the WSPU into motion on behalf of the war effort. In her first speech after returning to Britain, Christabel warned of the "German Peril". She urged the gathered women to follow the example of their French sisters, who – while the men fought – "are able to keep the country going, to get in the harvest, to carry on the industries". [6] Emmeline tried to shame men in to volunteering for the front lines. [101]

Sylvia and Adela, meanwhile, did not share their mother's enthusiasm for the war. As committed pacifists, they rejected the WSPU's support for the government. Sylvia's socialist perspective convinced her that the war was another example of capitalist oligarchs exploiting poor soldiers and workers. Adela, meanwhile, spoke against the war in Australia and made public her opposition to conscription. In a short letter, Emmeline told Sylvia: "I am ashamed to know where you and Adela stand." [6] She had a similar impatience for dissent within the WSPU when long-time member Mary Leigh asked a question during a meeting in October 1915, Pankhurst replied: "[T]hat woman is a pro German and should leave the hall. . I denounce you as a pro German and wish to forget that such a person ever existed." [103] Some WSPU members were outraged by this sudden rigid devotion to the government, the leadership's perceived abandonment of efforts to win the vote for women, and questions about how funds collected on behalf of suffrage were being managed with regard to the organisation's new focus. Two groups split from the WSPU: The Suffragettes of the Women's Social and Political Union (SWSPU) and the Independent Women's Social and Political Union (IWSPU), each dedicated to maintaining pressure toward women's suffrage. [104]

Pankhurst put the same energy and determination she had previously applied to women's suffrage into patriotic advocacy of the war effort. She organised rallies, toured constantly delivering speeches, and lobbied the government to help women enter the work force while men were overseas fighting. Another issue which concerned her greatly at the time was the plight of so-called war babies, children born to single mothers whose fathers were on the front lines. Pankhurst established an adoption home at Campden Hill designed to employ the Montessori method of childhood education. Some women criticised Pankhurst for offering relief to parents of children born out of wedlock, but she declared indignantly that the welfare of children–whose suffering she had seen firsthand as a Poor Law Guardian–was her only concern. Due to lack of funds, however, the home was soon turned over to Princess Alice. Pankhurst herself adopted four children, whom she renamed Kathleen King, Flora Mary Gordon, Joan Pembridge and Elizabeth Tudor. They lived in London, where–for the first time in many years–she had a permanent home, at Holland Park. [105] Asked how, at the age of 57 and with no steady income, she could take on the burden of bringing up four more children, Pankhurst replied: "My dear, I wonder I didn't take forty." [106]

Russian delegation Edit

Pankhurst visited North America in 1916 together with the former Secretary of State for Serbia, Čedomilj Mijatović, whose nation had been at the centre of fighting at the start of the war. They toured the United States and Canada, raising money and urging the US government to support Britain and its Canadian and other allies. Two years later, after the US entered the war, Pankhurst returned to the United States, encouraging suffragettes there – who had not suspended their militancy – to support the war effort by sidelining activities related to the vote. She also spoke about her fears of communist insurgency, which she considered a grave threat to Russian democracy. [107]

By June 1917 the Russian Revolution had strengthened the Bolsheviks, who urged an end to the war. Pankhurst's translated autobiography had been read widely in Russia, and she saw an opportunity to put pressure on the Russian people. She hoped to convince them not to accept Germany's conditions for peace, which she saw as a potential defeat for Britain and Russia. UK Prime Minister David Lloyd George agreed to sponsor her trip to Russia, which she took in June. She told one crowd: "I came to Petrograd with a prayer from the English nation to the Russian nation, that you may continue the war on which depends the face of civilisation and freedom." [108] Press response was divided between left and right wings the former depicted her as a tool of capitalism, while the latter praised her devout patriotism. [109]

In August she met with Alexander Kerensky, the Russian Prime Minister. Although she had been active with the socialist-leaning ILP in years past, Pankhurst had begun to see leftist politics as disagreeable, an attitude which intensified while she was in Russia. The meeting was uncomfortable for both parties he felt that she was unable to appreciate the class-based conflict driving Russian policy at the time. He concluded by telling her that English women had nothing to teach women in Russia. She later told the New York Times that he was the "biggest fraud of modern times" and that his government could "destroy civilisation." [110] [111]

When she returned from Russia, Pankhurst was delighted to find that women's right to vote was finally on its way to becoming a reality. The 1918 Representation of the People Act removed property restrictions on men's suffrage and granted the vote to women over the age of 30 (with several restrictions). As suffragists and suffragettes celebrated and prepared for its imminent passage, a new schism erupted: should women's political organisations join forces with those established by men? Many socialists and moderates supported unity of the sexes in politics, but Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst saw the best hope in remaining separate. They reinvented the WSPU as the Women's Party, still open only to women. Women, they said, "can best serve the nation by keeping clear of men's party political machinery and traditions, which, by universal consent, leave so much to be desired." [112] The party favoured equal marriage laws, equal pay for equal work, and equal job opportunities for women. These were matters for the post-war era, however. While the fighting continued the Women's Party demanded no compromise in the defeat of Germany the removal from government of anyone with family ties to Germany or pacifist attitudes and shorter work hours to forestall labour strikes. This last plank in the party's platform was meant to discourage potential interest in Bolshevism, about which Pankhurst was increasingly anxious. [113]

In the years after the 1918 Armistice, Pankhurst continued to promote her nationalist vision of British unity. She maintained a focus on women's empowerment, but her days of fighting with government officialdom were over. She defended the presence and reach of the British Empire: "Some talk about the Empire and Imperialism as if it were something to decry and something to be ashamed of. [I]t is a great thing to be the inheritors of an Empire like ours . great in territory, great in potential wealth. . If we can only realise and use that potential wealth we can destroy thereby poverty, we can remove and destroy ignorance." [115] For years she travelled around England and North America, rallying support for the British Empire and warning audiences about the dangers of Bolshevism. After the war she lived in Bermuda and America for a couple years. [116]

Emmeline Pankhurst also became active in political campaigning again when a bill was passed allowing women to run for the House of Commons. Many Women's Party members urged Pankhurst to stand for election, but she insisted that Christabel was a better choice. She campaigned tirelessly for her daughter, lobbying Prime Minister Lloyd George for his support and at one point delivering a passionate speech in the rain. Christabel lost by a very slim margin to the Labour Party candidate, and the recount showed a difference of 775 votes. One biographer called it "the bitterest disappointment of Emmeline's life." [117] The Women's Party withered from existence soon afterward. [118]

As a result of her many trips to North America, Pankhurst became fond of Canada, stating in an interview that "there seems to be more equality between men and women [there] than in any other country I know." [119] In 1922 she applied for Canadian "permission to land" (a prerequisite to status as a "British Subject with Canadian Domicile") and rented a house in Toronto, where she moved with her four adopted children. She became active with the Canadian National Council for Combating Venereal Diseases (CNCCVD), which worked against the sexual double standard which Pankhurst considered particularly harmful to women. During a tour of Bathurst, the mayor showed her a new building which would become the Home for Fallen Women. Pankhurst replied: "Ah! Where is your Home for Fallen Men?" [120] Before long, however, she grew tired of long Canadian winters, and she ran out of money. She returned to England in late 1925. [121]

Back in London Emmeline was visited by Sylvia, who had not seen her mother in years. Their politics were by now very different, and Sylvia was living, unmarried, with an Italian anarchist. Sylvia described a moment of familial affection when they met, followed by a sad distance between them. Emmeline's adopted daughter Mary, however, remembered the meeting differently. According to her version, Emmeline set her teacup down and walked silently out of the room, leaving Sylvia in tears. [122] Christabel, meanwhile, had become a convert to Adventism and devoted much of her time to the church. The British press sometimes made light of the varied paths followed by the once indivisible family. [123]

In 1926 Pankhurst joined the Conservative Party and two years later ran as a candidate for Parliament in Whitechapel and St George's. Her transformation from a fiery supporter of the ILP and window-smashing radical to an official Conservative Party member surprised many people. She replied succinctly: "My war experience and my experience on the other side of the Atlantic have changed my views considerably." [124] Her biographers insist that the move was more complex she was devoted to a programme of women's empowerment and anti-communism. Both the Liberal and Labour parties bore grudges for her work against them in the WSPU, and the Conservative Party had a victorious record after the war and a significant majority. Pankhurst may have joined the Conservative Party as much to secure the vote for women as from ideological affinity. [125]

The birth of half-human, half-animal chimeras

In H. G. Wells's The Island of Doctor Moreau, the shipwrecked hero Edward Pendrick is walking through a forest glade when he chances upon a group of two men and a woman squatting around a fallen tree. They are naked apart from a few rags tied around their waist, with "fat, heavy, chinless faces, retreating foreheads, and a scant bristly hair upon their foreheads." Pendrick notes that "I never saw such bestial looking creatures."

As Pendrick approaches, they attempt to talk to him, but their speech is "thick and slopping" and their heads sway as they speak, "reciting some complicated gibberish". Despite their clothes and their appearance, he perceives the "irresistible suggestion of a hog, a swinish taint" in their manner. They are, he concludes, "grotesque travesties of men".

Wandering into Doctor Moreau's operating room one night, Pendrick eventually uncovers the truth: his host has been transforming beasts into humans, sculpting their bodies and their brains into his own image. But despite his best efforts he can never eliminate their most basic instincts, and the fragile society soon regresses to dangerous anarchy, leading to Moreau's death.

It is 120 years since Wells first published his novel, and to read some recent headlines you would think that we are veering dangerously close to his dystopic vision. "Frankenstein scientists developing part-human part-animal chimera," exclaimed the UK's Daily Mirror in May 2016. "Science wants to break down the fence between man and beast," the Washington Times declared two months later, fearing that sentient animals would soon be unleashed on the world.

The hope is to implant human stem cells in an animal embryo so that it will grow specific human organs. The approach could, in theory, provide a ready-made replacement for a diseased heart or liver &ndash eliminating the wait for a human donor and reducing the risk of organ rejection.

It's going to open up a new understanding of biology

These bold and controversial plans are the culmination of more than three decades of research. These experiments have helped us understand some of the biggest mysteries of life, delineate the boundaries between species, and explore how a ragbag bunch of cells in the womb coalesce and grow into a living, breathing being.

With new plans to fund the projects, we are now reaching a critical point in this research. "Things are moving very fast in this field today," says Janet Rossant at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, and one of the early pioneers of chimera research. "It's going to open up a new understanding of biology."

That is, provided we can resolve some knotty ethical issues first &ndash questions that may permanently change our understanding of what it means to be human.

For millennia, chimeras were literally the stuff of legend. The term comes from Greek mythology, with Homer describing a strange hybrid "of immortal make, not human, lion-fronted and snake behind, a goat in the middle". It was said to breathe fire as it roamed Lycia in Asia Minor.

At least 8% of non-identical twins have absorbed cells from their brother or sister

In reality, chimeras in science are less impressive. The word describes any creature containing a fusion of genetically-distinct tissues. This can occur naturally, if twin embryos fuse soon after conception, with striking results.

Consider the "bilateral gynandromorphs", in which one side of the body is male, the other female. These animals are essentially two non-identical twins joined down the centre. If the two sexes have wildly different markings &ndash as is the case for many birds and insects &ndash this can lead to a bizarre appearance, such as a northern cardinal that had grown bright red plumage on half of its body, while the rest was grey.

Most often, however, the cells mix to form a subtler mosaic across the whole body, and chimeras look and act like other individuals within the species. There is even a chance that you are one yourself. Studies suggest that at least 8% of non-identical twins have absorbed cells from their brother or sister.

The mixed bag of animals from Greek legends certainly cannot be found in nature. But this has not stopped scientists from trying to create their own hybrid chimeras in the lab.

Janet Rossant, then at Brock University, Canada, was one of the first to succeed. In 1980, she published a paper in the journal Science announcing a chimera that combined two mice species: an albino laboratory mouse (Mus musculus) and a Ryukyu mouse (Mus caroli), a wild species from east Asia.

Previous attempts to produce a hybrid "interspecific" chimera often ended in disappointment. The embryos simply failed to embed in the uterus, and those that did were deformed and stunted, and typically miscarried before they reached term.

We showed you really could cross species boundaries

Rossant's technique involved a delicate operation at a critical point in pregnancy, around four days after mating. At this point, the fertilised egg has divided into a small bundle of cells known as the blastocyst. This contains an inner cell mass, surrounded by a protective outer layer called the trophoblast, which goes on to form the placenta.

Working with William Frels, Rossant took the M. musculus and injected it with the inner cell mass of the other species, M. caroli. They then implanted this mixed bag of cells back into the M. musculus mothers. By ensuring that the M. musculus trophoblast remained intact, they ensured that the resulting placenta would match the mother's DNA. This helped the embryo embed in the uterus. Next they sat back and waited 18 days for the pregnancies to unfold.

It was a resounding success of the 48 resulting offspring, 38 were a blend of tissues from both species. "We showed you really could cross species boundaries," Rossant says. The blend was apparent in the mice's coats, with alternating patches of albino white from the M. musculus and the tawny stripes of the M. caroli.

Even their temperaments were noticeably different from their parents. "It was quite obviously a weird mixture," says Rossant. "M. caroli are very jumpy: you would need to put them at the bottom of a garbage can so they don't jump out at you, and you'd handle them with forceps and leather gloves." The M. musculus were much calmer. "The chimeras were somewhat in between."

With today's understanding of neuroscience, Rossant thinks this could help us to explore the reasons why different species act the way they do. "You could map the behavioural differences against the different regions of the brain that were occupied by the two species," she says. "I think that could be very interesting to examine."

Time magazine described the geep as "a zookeeper's prank: a goat dressed in a sweater of angora"

In her early work Rossant used these chimeras to probe our basic biology. Back when genetic screening was in its infancy, the marked differences between the two species helped to identify the spread of cells within the body, allowing biologists to examine which elements of the early embryo go on to create the different organs.

The two lineages could even help scientists investigate the role of certain genes. They could create a mutation in one of the original embryos, but not the other. Watching the effect on the resulting chimera could then help tease apart a gene's many functions across different parts of the body.

Using Rossant's technique, a handful of other hybrid chimeras soon emerged kicking and mewling in labs across the world. They included a goat-sheep chimera, dubbed a geep. The animal was striking to see, a patchwork of wool and coarse hair. Time described it as "a zookeeper's prank: a goat dressed in a sweater of angora."

Rossant also advised various conservation projects, which hoped to use her technique to implant embryos of endangered species into the wombs of domestic animals. "I'm not sure that has ever entirely worked, but the concept is still there."

Now the aim is to add humans to the mix, in a project that could herald a new era of "regenerative medicine".

For two decades, doctors have tried to find ways to harvest stem cells, which have the potential to form any kind of tissue, and nudge them to regrow new organs in a petri dish. The strategy would have enormous potential for replacing diseased organs.

The aim is to create chimera animals that can grow organs to order

"The only problem is that, although these are very similar to the cells in the embryo, they are not identical," says Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California. So far, none have been fit for transplantation.

Izpisua Belmonte, and a handful of others like him, think the answer is lurking in the farmyard. The aim is to create chimera animals that can grow organs to order. "Embryogenesis happens every day and the embryo comes out perfect 99% of the time," says Izpisua Belmonte. "We don't know how to do this in vitro, but an animal does it very well, so why not let nature do the heavy lifting?"

Today's plans to build a human-animal chimera may have provoked controversy, but they are nothing compared to the scandalous experiments of Ilia Ivanov, also known as the "Red Frankenstein". Hoping to prove our close evolutionary ties to other primates once and for all, Ivanov hatched a crackpot scheme to breed a human-ape hybrid.

Starting in the mid-1920s, he tried to inseminate chimps with human sperm, and even tried to transplant a woman's ovary into a chimp called Nora, but she died before she could conceive.

When all else failed, he gathered five Soviet women who were willing to carry the hybrid. However, the prospective father &ndash called Tarzan &ndash died of a brain haemorrhage before he could carry out his plan. Ivanov was eventually arrested and exiled to Kazakhstan in 1930 for supporting the "international bourgeoisie" a crime that had nothing to do with his grotesque experiments.

Unlike the "geep", which showed a mosaic of tissue across its body, the foreign tissue in these chimeras would be limited to a specific organ. By manipulating certain genes, the researchers hope they could knock out the target organ in the host, creating a void for the human cells to colonise and grow to the required size and shape. "The animal is an incubator," says Pablo Juan Ross at the University of California-Davis, who is also investigating the possibility.

We already know that it is theoretically possible. In 2010 Hiromitsu Nakauchi of Stanford University School of Medicine and his colleagues created a rat pancreas in a mouse body using a similar technique. Pigs are currently the preferred host, as they are anatomically remarkably similar to humans.

If it succeeds, the strategy would solve many of the problems with organ donation today.

"The average waiting time for a kidney is three years," explains Ross. In contrast, a custom-made organ grown in a pig would be ready in as little as five months. "That's another advantage of using pigs. They grow very quickly."

In 2015, the US National Institutes of Health announced a moratorium on funding for human-animal chimera

Beyond transplantation, a human-animal chimera could also transform the way we hunt for drugs.

Currently, many new treatments may appear to be effective in animal trials, but have unexpected effects in humans. "All that money and time gets lost," says Izpisua Belmonte.

Consider a new drug for liver disease, say. "If we were able to put human cells inside a pig's liver, then within the first year of developing the compound, we could see if it was toxic for humans," he says.

Rossant agrees that the approach has great potential, although these are the first steps on a very long road. "I have to admire their bravery in taking this on," she says. "It's doable but I must say there are very serious challenges."

Many of these difficulties are technical.

The evolutionary gap between humans and pigs is far greater than the distance between a rat and a mouse, and scientists know from experience that this makes it harder for the donor cells to take root. "You need to create the conditions so that the human cells can survive and thrive," says Izpisua Belmonte. This will involve finding the pristine source of human stem cells capable of transforming into any tissue, and perhaps genetically modifying the host to make it more hospitable.

It would be truly horrific to create a human mind trapped in an animal's body

But it is the ethical concerns that have so far stalled research. In 2015, the US National Institutes of Health announced a moratorium on funding for human-animal chimera. It has since announced plans to lift that ban, provided that each experiment undergoes an extra review before funding is approved. In the meantime, Izpisua Belmonte has been offered a $2.5m (£2m) grant on the condition that he uses monkey, rather than human, stem cells to create the chimera.

A particularly emotive concern is that the stem cells will reach the pig's brain, creating an animal that shares some of our behaviours and abilities. "I do think that has to be something that is taken into account and discussed extensively," says Rossant. After all, she found that her chimeras shared the temperaments of both species. It would be truly horrific to create a human mind trapped in an animal's body, a nightmare fit for Wells.

The researchers point to some possible precautions. "By injecting the cells in a particular stage of embryo development, we might be able to avoid that happening," says Izpisua Belmonte. Another option may be to program the stem cells with "suicide genes" that would cause them to self-destruct in certain conditions, to prevent them from embedding in neural tissue.

Even so, these solutions have not convinced Stuart Newman, a cell biologist at New York Medical College, US. He says he has been worried about the direction of this research ever since the creation of the geep in the 1980s. His concern is not so much about the plans today, but a future where the chimera steadily take on more human characteristics.

"These things become more interesting, scientifically and medically, the more human they are," says Newman. "So you might say now that 'I would never make something mostly human', but there is an impulse to do it. There's a kind of momentum to the whole enterprise that makes you want to go further and further."

How we talk about humans during this debate may inadvertently change how we look at ourselves

Suppose that scientists created a chimera to study a new treatment for Alzheimer's. A team of researchers may start out with permission to create a chimera that has a 20% human brain, say, only to decide that 30% or 40% would be necessary to properly understand the effects of a new drug. Scientific funding bodies often require more and more ambitious targets, Newman says. "It's not that people are aspiring to create abominations&hellip but things just keep going, there's no natural stopping point."

Just as importantly, he thinks that it will numb our sense of our own humanity. "There's the transformation of our culture that allows us to cross these boundaries. It plays on the idea of the human as just another material object," he says. For instance, if human chimera exist, we may not be so worried about manipulating our own genes to create designer babies.

Newman is not alone in these views.

John Evans, a sociologist at the University of California San Diego, US, points out that the very discussion of human-animal chimera focusses on their cognitive capacities.

For instance, we might decide that it is okay to treat them in one way as long as they lack human rationality or language, but that train of logic could lead us down a slippery slope when considering other people within our own species. "If the public thinks that a human is a compilation of capacities, those existing humans with fewer of these valued capacities will be considered to be of lesser value," Evans writes.

Our gut reactions should not shape the moral discussion

For his part, Izpisua Belmonte thinks that many of these concerns &ndash particularly the more sensational headlines &ndash are premature. "The media and the regulators think that we are going to get important human organs growing inside a pig tomorrow," he says. "That's science fiction. We are at the earliest stage."

And as an editorial in the journal Nature argued, perhaps our gut reactions should not shape the moral discussion. The idea of a chimera may be disgusting to some, but the suffering of people with untreatable illnesses is equally horrendous. Our decisions need to be based on more than just our initial reactions.

Whatever conclusions we reach, we need to be aware that the repercussions could stretch far beyond the science at hand. "How we talk about humans during this debate may inadvertently change how we look at ourselves," writes Evans.

The question of what defines our humanity was, after all, at the heart of Wells' classic novel. Once Pendrick has escaped the island of Doctor Moreau, he returns to a life of solitude in the English countryside, preferring to spend the lonely nights watching the heavens.

Having witnessed the boundary between species broken so violently, he cannot meet another human being without seeing the beast inside us all. "It seemed that I too was not a reasonable creature, but only an animal tormented with some strange disorder in its brain which sent it to wander alone, like a sheep stricken with gid."

David Robson is BBC Future&rsquos feature writer. He is @d_a_robson on Twitter.

Skipwith and Anktill

Both David Cressy and Cynthia Herrup believe they are writing microhistory, a word coined by Italians, but used to describe above all the work of Natalie Zemon Davis (The Return of Martin Guerre, 1983) and Robert Darnton (The Great Cat Massacre, 1984). Microhistorians have turned to the verbatim records of interrogations kept in the law courts of early modern Europe (or at least those parts of Europe where Roman law procedures were followed) to reconstruct the detailed stories of individual trials. They have been trying to write &lsquohistory from below&rsquo, convinced that the stories peasants or apprentices told about their lives, and the decisions courts reached on the basis of them, were inconsistent, distorted, fractured, but that at the same time there was precious little objective truth to be discovered beyond these accounts. Davis and Darnton both taught at Princeton, where they attended the seminars of Clifford Geertz, who encouraged the belief that the simplest events (his classic account was of a cock-fight in Bali) were invested with the preoccupations and styles of thought of the whole culture that objects and actions could be interpreted as if they were texts and that the right sort of description (&lsquothick description&rsquo) would enable readers to &lsquosee&rsquo what was at issue. Foucault&rsquos Discipline and Punish (which appeared in English in 1977) provided a ready model of how historians might achieve similar effects.

So it was with some sense of shock that I read David Cressy&rsquos claim that &lsquothe great G.R. Elton . . . pioneered the practice of microhistory&rsquo in his Star Chamber Stories (1958). Elton may have been a great historian he certainly dominated the study of Tudor history through the 1960s and 1970s. But it would have been hard to find anyone more hostile to the new social sciences, or to French theory, and Cressy knows full well that Elton would have been &lsquohorrified&rsquo to think he was responsible for Davis and Darnton. For Cressy, microhistory is simply the close study of legal records, not a set of intellectual (not to mention moral or political) commitments. The new microhistorians thought they had found a new way of making sense of the past Elton and Cressy offer us mere off-cuts that found no place in their larger works &ndash in Elton&rsquos case his studies of Tudor government, in Cressy&rsquos his study of &lsquonormal&rsquo behaviour in Birth, Marriage and Death (1997). (It seems pointless to try and find microhistory in English before Foucault and Geertz, but anyone who wants to engage in such an enterprise should read Graham Greene&rsquos Lord Rochester&rsquos Monkey, 1974.)

Historians of England have been slow to turn to microhistory because the evidence in English common law courts was spoken not written, trials usually lasted only a few minutes (Castlehaven&rsquos trial, to which I will turn in a minute, was exceptional in lasting the greater part of a day), and all that is usually left behind is the record of a verdict. Star Chamber, a prerogative court, is an important exception (hence James Sharpe&rsquos recent The Bewitching of Anne Gunter), and church court records are sometimes quite full. Thus Cressy can tell us the stories of an excommunicated Catholic, buried illegally by night in the chancel of her parish church of a young man who dressed as a woman to join in the all-female festivities that followed a birth of horses and cats being baptised of abortion and infanticide.

Cressy is not writing history from below, however. He refers to his lower-class female culprits by their first names, while his clergymen retain the respectability of their surnames. And he confuses &lsquothick description&rsquo with what he calls &lsquogruesome detail&rsquo, as in the story of Lydia Downes who was a party to infanticide in 1635: &lsquoReaders who wish to be spared gruesome details may be advised to skip this part of Lydia&rsquos confession,&rsquo he says, the effect of which is surely to encourage readers to read closely, and discover that Downes&rsquos companion, Skeete, &lsquotook the arm of the child and put the hand of it into the mouth, and strangled it&rsquo. One can&rsquot imagine Foucault apologising for catching our attention.

Cressy&rsquos lead story is that of Agnes Bowker, who could produce a midwife to confirm that, on 17 January 1569, in Market Harborough, she had given birth to a stillborn monster. The story is complicated. Bowker had certainly been pregnant indeed, by her own account the pregnancy had lasted far longer than normal. She claimed that she had had sex not only with a schoolmaster and a servant, but also with demons in various animal shapes, a claim which was intended to account for the strange resemblance between her offspring and a cat. Contemporaries believed there were authenticated cases of women giving birth to dogs, pigs and toads, and we should not be surprised that a pamphlet promptly appeared reporting the birth of this demonic creature.

But Bowker had not reckoned with the resourcefulness of a local clergyman, Anthony Anderson, who handled the matter on behalf of the church courts. By the time he became involved the monster had been cut open by the local innkeeper in the presence of the curate, and bacon and bits of straw found in its stomach moreover, a local cat had been reported missing. Anderson set out to reproduce the diabolic monster in what Cressy calls a &lsquolaboratory experiment&rsquo. He had another cat killed and flayed, and the result was identical to Bowker&rsquos offspring except for the eyes. A quick spell in boiling water and the eyes of Anderson&rsquos cat were opaque, like those of the mysterious monster. Anderson was thus satisfied that he was dealing with a case of fraud, and it seems likely that Bowker had given birth to a normal child some time earlier, a child which had died or been done away with. It is worth noting that Cressy, like Elton, wants to get at the truth behind the stories. &lsquoI have chosen to immerse myself in a sea of stories,&rsquo he says, but if you look closely you will find his feet are always on the ground. He never floats free.

Cressy talks cheerfully of Anderson exercising &lsquoa country version of Renaissance laboratory craft&rsquo. But the word &lsquolaboratory&rsquo appears first in 1605, so the idea of Anderson thinking in terms of a laboratory is anachronistic. Anderson can scarcely have thought he was copying the techniques of scientists nor was he looking for clues: Carlo Ginzburg showed in his Clues, Myths and the Historical Method (1989) how the idea of a clue was a 19th-century innovation. Umberto Eco&rsquos Name of the Rose (1981) portrays a historical impossibility, a medieval monk with the mental faculties of Sherlock Holmes &ndash the story&rsquos whole point is that it is shot through with anachronism. I only wish that Anthony Anderson, as described by Cressy, was a similarly fictional creation, for his behaviour is every bit as puzzling and mysterious as that of Eco&rsquos monk. He seems entirely of the 16th century when he infuriates a parishioner by calling him &lsquoboy&rsquo and ends up being beaten until his head is &lsquoas soft as a sponge&rsquo, but faced with a Renaissance X-file he suddenly turns into Scully, seeking to dispel mystery with laboratory science.

What were the curate and innkeeper doing when they cut the monster open? Presumably they were testing a practical syllogism: neonates have empty stomachs. A creature with food in its stomach is not new-born. What was Anderson doing when he set out to reproduce the monster? Already convinced that the monster was a fake, he was not a scientist, exploring the secrets of nature, but a craftsman, studying the techniques of a competitor. He was not using laboratory equipment but the tools (a knife, boiling water) that would have been available to Bowker. He provided an illustration of Bowker&rsquos fraudulent monster (putting his one piece of specialist equipment, a pair of compasses, to work), captioning it: &lsquoThere is nothing so secret that shall not be made open.&rsquo No Renaissance clergyman would have made such a claim about God&rsquos handiwork it ceases to be blasphemous only if it is read as a comment on human artifice. Anderson was not carrying out an experiment, but trying to reproduce a recipe he was engaged in the fundamental cultural practice of his day, common to poets and craftsmen, that of imitation.

Cynthia Herrup&rsquos book is concerned with a single case which is well-documented because the accused was a peer of the realm. Mervin Touchet, second Earl of Castlehaven, was beheaded in May 1631 for rape and sodomy. On such occasions it was customary for the condemned to confess his guilt, if only in the hope of persuading the authorities to take pity on his widow and children, for the property of a felon belonged to the Crown. Indeed, had Castlehaven been willing in the days before his execution to beg for mercy he would quite likely have been pardoned. But he died bravely (the one report that claims he turned the colour of smoked bacon at the last may prove that he lacked sangfroid, but scarcely proves he was a coward), protesting his innocence to the end. As well he might. A jury of 27 of his peers had convicted him, 26 voting him guilty of rape and 15 finding him guilty of sodomy. But there was no evidence that he had buggered anyone. A male servant, Florence Fitzpatrick, after being given a promise of immunity, had confessed to mutual masturbation. The Law Lords maintained that this was a sexual practice sufficiently unnatural to count as sodomy (a view which later courts were to dismiss as a bad precedent). Fitzpatrick himself was hanged a few weeks later, convicted solely on his own testimony, and despite the jury&rsquos desire to classify him as a mere accomplice: according to the law there were no accomplices, only principals, in such a crime.

As for the rape, Castlehaven was convicted of raping his own wife or rather (in law a husband could not rape his wife) of being an accomplice in the rape of his wife by another: again, the law held accomplices to be indistinguishable from principals. Giles Broadway (executed with Fitzpatrick) had confessed to a sexual assault on Lady Castlehaven, but had claimed that penetration had never taken place because he had ejaculated prematurely. Castlehaven was convicted because of his wife&rsquos deposition (although wives could not normally testify against their husbands), despite the fact that his wife did not actually testify at his trial, and despite there being no evidence that she had spoken of being raped until six months after the event.

Castlehaven had thus been convicted of &lsquosodomy&rsquo on the uncorroborated testimony of a servant, and of being an accomplice to rape on the uncorroborated testimony of a woman. There are two problems here. Throughout most of Europe a conviction on the evidence of one witness would have been impossible. Under Roman law and the legal systems derived from it, the correct procedure in such a case would have been to torture the suspect in the hope of obtaining his testimony against himself. No early modern court would have authorised the torture of an earl, so Castlehaven was unlucky in having to face a common law court. And this brings us to the second problem. It was basic to 17th-century legal practice that the testimony of men was more reliable than that of women, and that of gentlemen more reliable than that of servants. Castlehaven was more than a gentleman, he was a peer, and peers were not even required to take an oath in a court of law, for their mere word was assumed to outweigh any commoner&rsquos oath. Castlehaven was entitled to feel both that the law had been retrospectively redefined to condemn his behaviour, and that the prosecution had failed to meet the normal standards of proof. Finally, although the accused in 17th-century criminal trials had no right to defence counsel, they did have a right to legal representation when questions of law, not fact, were at issue &ndash and one could hardly deny that such questions had been raised repeatedly in the course of the trial.

Castlehaven&rsquos unrepentant behaviour in his last weeks was so impressive that Edward Hyde, who became Earl of Clarendon, was among those who became convinced of his innocence. Later, in the darkest hours of the Civil War, he was to hold up this convicted sodomite and rapist as a model of how to behave in the worst of circumstances.

Cynthia Herrup has written a fine book which seeks to show both how easy it would have been in principle to find Castlehaven not guilty, and how impossible in practice. For the prosecution argued that the whole tenor of his life showed him to be capable of the acts with which he was charged. He had turned impoverished servants who had taken his fancy into wealthy men and he had induced his eldest son&rsquos 15-year-old wife, Lady Audley (who was also Castlehaven&rsquos stepdaughter), to commit adultery with one of these minions, in the hope of disinheriting his own descendants by blood.

The original complaint against Castlehaven had come from his son, Lord Audley, who had appealed to the King to prevent his inheritance from being squandered, and the fatal testimony had come from his wife. Here was a man who had betrayed his responsibilities as husband, father and head of a household in so gross a fashion that he was unfit to continue to govern over others. And yet the courtiers who hastened to condemn Castlehaven had stood by as James I turned his own impoverished minions into wealthy men, and, even under Charles, Castlehaven&rsquos heir was partially disinherited by his father&rsquos execution, the family seat being granted to a courtier. King and courtiers were well aware of the popular delight with which the assassination of the Duke of Buckingham, the favourite of James and Charles in turn, had been greeted only two years before. Herrup fails to bring out the extent to which Buckingham&rsquos career, which had ended in impeachment and murder, must have cast a shadow over the proceedings. Castlehaven had to die so that no one would dare claim that his house at Fonthill Gifford was a microcosm of the kingdom.

Herrup argues that the prosecution &lsquopresented the defendant&rsquos prior life as the central proof against him. Ultimately, the prosecution implied, the Earl was guilty not because of what he had done with Broadway and Fitzpatrick, but because of what he had once done with Skipwith and Anktill.&rsquo (Skipwith and Anktill were his favourites.) The failure to prosecute Skipwith (Lady Audley&rsquos &lsquolover&rsquo &ndash though one would prefer a term that acknowledged the possibility of duress &ndash and the first of his servants to be arrested) and Anktill (who had married Castlehaven&rsquos eldest daughter) is, after the determination to convict an Earl, the second great puzzle of the trial, and scarcely explicable, I think, except in terms of a desire to avoid executing anyone who, as a favourite, could be said to resemble Buckingham. It may not be entirely a coincidence that within two decades the King was to be condemned and the Lords abolished. Already in 1631 (the recent &lsquorevisionist&rsquo histories of Conrad Russell and others notwithstanding) the old order was sufficiently insecure to need a scapegoat, and Castlehaven was convenient for this purpose, being strikingly unsupported by powerful friends and allies.

Herrup has skilfully avoided a number of traps into which most authors would have blithely stepped. She is not interested in speculating about Castlehaven&rsquos sexuality (although he seems to have been a voyeur who had his servants call him to watch his stepdaughter having sex with other men). She thus avoids the temptation to treat Castlehaven&rsquos trial as an opportunity to learn about Stuart sodomy. And she is not prepared to take at face value either the judges&rsquo account of the law or the jury&rsquos verdict on the facts. So we never learn who &lsquoreally&rsquo did what to whom, or what the verdict ought to have been. We never escape from the participants&rsquo own narratives. Instead, she identifies herself with the American critical legal studies school: which is to say that she shares many of the preoccupations of Darnton and Davis, even if she shows no interest in Geertz and tells her narrative sparingly, with no set-pieces of &lsquothick description&rsquo.

Instead, in her account Castlehaven becomes the inverted reflection of 17th-century conceptions of good government and masculinity. Through him we learn what others aspired to be. Herrup has a subtle sense of the complex relationship between aspirations and the real world. Those who condemned Castlehaven slept with their male servants (a 17th-century bed was no private place) and imposed themselves on their wives and female servants. Some of them must have had hostile sons and angry wives, of whom it could be said (in the words of a poet claiming to be Castlehaven), &lsquoWe once were one but now are double hearted.&rsquo Castlehaven&rsquos failures were more spectacular than those of his judges, but they were not necessarily without fault themselves: a point made forcibly by another anonymous poet who took his side.

Even the best books have their limitations, and Herrup seems strikingly uninterested in literature, despite the opportunity her case presents to combine the techniques of microhistory and new historicism. She has little to say about the poems the trial inspired, and clearly does not know who Aretino is. She devotes less than a paragraph to the evidence suggesting that Milton&rsquos Comus (1634) is about Castlehaven (it was written for his in-laws), which is surely an opportunity missed. For all that, it is Herrup not Cressy who invites us to step outside our comfortable assumptions about love, order and authority and look at the world anew.

Most Read

“In loving memory of a wonderful person. We will love and miss you always,” one person wrote.

“What a life she lived. Hope you find peace,” said another person.

Other families have publicly shamed relatives upon their deaths.

A Texas family remembered a 74-year-old man — Leslie Ray Charping — as a “model example of bad parenting combined with mental illness and a complete commitment to drinking, drugs, womanizing and being generally offensive.”

They wrote that he lived “29 years longer than expected, and much longer than he deserved.”

Belle Starr: Midwestern Bandit Queen of the 1800s

Myra Maybelle Shirley or the legendary Belle Starr was born on 5th February 1848. She was the famous female outlaw in the Wild West. Belle associated with many famous outlaws like Jesse and Frank James. She also became a prominent figure in the media due to her love affairs with popular criminals. This prompted in portraying her as a daring outlaw. However, later discoveries revealed that she committed fewer criminal acts than her legend suggests. Belle Starr was murdered in 1889 and her murder still remains a mystery.

Belle Starr started out as a refined young lady but became a wanted criminal in the 1800s for theft and harboring outlaws.

Early Life of Belle Starr

Belle Starr did not start out as a likely woman for becoming an outlaw. Born in 1848 in Missouri, her parents were fairly well off. Because of that, Belle went to a female academy for studies in refined subjects. She also learned to play the piano. She was the daughter of John Shirley and his third wife, Elizabeth Hatfield Shirley. Belle’s elder brother John had a great influence on her. He also taught her horse riding and how to use guns.

During the Civil War, Belle’s family town was attacked. Her father decided to move the family to Texas. Interestingly, legend states that during their residency in Texas, Belle came in contact with Jesse James and other outlaws.

Once the war ended, Belle married a man named Jim Reed in 1866. In 1868, she gave birth to a girl, Rosie Lee (nicknamed Pearl). Jim moved his family to California, where Belle gave birth to their second child, a boy James Edwin.

The Bad Husband

As a young adult, Belle honed her skills for riding horses and shooting guns. The young Reed family got along fine until Belle’s husband Jim found himself in a murder investigation. He may have been innocent, but being hunted caused him to uproot the family. They moved to California until the search for him waned.

After some time in California, the Reed family moved back to Texas. Jim tried being a farmer and saddle salesman, but soon the family was making their money by thievery. Jim may have started out in criminal activities by himself, but it appears that Belle Starr soon joined him in “liberating” goods and horses from various people.

In 1869, it appears that Jim and Belle traveled to the North Canadian River area in the Southwest USA, where they helped pull off a $30,000 heist.

Meeting the Starrs

One of the criminal groups Jim and Belle started working with is a family of Cherokees named Starr. The involvement of Jim and Belle with the Starrs is unknown. But in April of 1874, Belle was wanted along with Jim and the Starrs for a stagecoach robbery. The warrants drove Jim and Belle to an honest living. However, Jim was soon killed during an argument.

Six years later, the widowed Belle would marry Sam Starr, an outlaw in the Indian Territory (what is now Oklahoma). Belle would help his outlaw group with shady dealings and use the money from criminal activities as bribes to get members of the gang out of jail.

Reward poster for Belle Starr.

Death of the Bandit Queen

Finally, the law caught up with them. In 1883 Belle was charged with horse theft and imprisoned for almost a year. Sam couldn’t seem to mend his ways. He was killed in a gunfight in 1886. Belle seems to have tried to go straight after her imprisonment, possibly even working in a touring Wild West show. She also married for the third time.

Unfortunately for Belle Starr, the past apparently caught up with her. On February 3, 1889, at the age of 40, she was shot riding her horse down a quiet country road. The blow knocked her off her horse. Apparently, the killer then went over to her, saw that she was still breathing, and shot her again at close range.

The woman who would become known as “The Bandit Queen” was dead.

An Unsolved Crime

Nobody other than the killer was nearby. Nobody saw what happened or who the shooter was. Various theories turned into gossip and legend. Law enforcement suspected both of her children, her current husband (he reportedly tried to hire someone to kill Belle shortly before her death), and some of the workers on her farm.

Edgar Watson, a farmland tenant who rented land from Belle, was the murder’s primary suspect. He was a fugitive wanted for murder. On finding his history, Belle kicked him off her land. The authorities believed that he might have killed Belle. However, since there were no witnesses, the authorities have to release him.

There was another story regarding her murder. According to Frank Eaton, Belle was attending a dance. He was the last person to dance with Belle. Edgar Watson asked Belle to dance with him and she declined. Later, Edgar followed Belle and shot her when she stopped her horse for a drink. According to Frank, Watson was convicted and hanged for the murder of Belle.

Another story suggests that her son killed her because she beat her for mistreating her horse.

Belle Starr Becomes a Real Star

Belle would probably have slipped silently into history except for the efforts of various publishers who took note of her outlaw life and turned her into a true celebrity. This notoriety grew to make Belle the topic of movies, books, television shows, and popular music. Her story would become wildly famous. Richard K. Fox made her famous with his novel Bella Starr, the Bandit Queen, or the Female Jesse James. This novel was the first of many other popular stories or novels that used Belle’s name.

Belle Starr, buried in Porum, Oklahoma, at the age of 40. Source: Find A Grave.

Although her killer is unknown, the legend of Belle Starr lives on. As her tombstone reads:

Shed not for her the bitter tear,
Nor give the heart to vain regret
Tis but the casket that lies here,
The gem that filled it sparkles yet.


John Fisher was born in Beverley, Yorkshire, [2] in 1469, the eldest son of Robert Fisher, a modestly prosperous merchant of Beverley, and Agnes, his wife. He was one of four children. His father died when John was eight. His mother remarried and had five more children by her second husband, William White. Fisher seems to have had close contacts with his extended family all his life. Fisher's early education was probably received in the school attached to the collegiate church in his home town.

Fisher studied at the University of Cambridge from 1484, where at Michaelhouse he came under the influence of William Melton, a pastorally-minded theologian open to the new current of reform in studies arising from the Renaissance. Fisher earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1487 and in 1491 proceeded to a Master of Arts degree. Also in 1491 Fisher received a papal dispensation to enter the priesthood despite being under canonical age. [3] Fisher was ordained into the Catholic priesthood on 17 December 1491 – the same year that he was elected a fellow of his college. [4] He was also made Vicar of Northallerton, Yorkshire. In 1494 he resigned his benefice to become proctor of the university and three years later was appointed master debater, about which date he also became chaplain and confessor to Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Richmond and Derby, mother of King Henry VII. On 5 July 1501, he became a doctor of sacred theology and 10 days later was elected Vice-Chancellor of the University. Under Fisher's guidance, his patroness Lady Margaret founded St John's and Christ's Colleges at Cambridge, and a Lady Margaret Professorship of Divinity at each of the two universities at Oxford and Cambridge, Fisher himself becoming the first occupant of the Cambridge chair. From 1505 to 1508 he was also the President of Queens' College. At the end of July 1516 he was at Cambridge for the opening of St John's College and consecrated the chapel.

Fisher's strategy was to assemble funds and attract to Cambridge leading scholars from Europe, promoting the study not only of Classical Latin and Greek authors, but of Hebrew. He placed great weight upon pastoral commitment, above all popular preaching by the endowed staff. Fisher's foundations were also dedicated to prayer for the dead, especially through chantry foundations. Fisher had a vision to which he dedicated all his personal resources and energies. A scholar and a priest, humble and conscientious, he managed despite occasional opposition to administer a whole university, one of only two in England. He conceived and saw through long-term projects.

A stern and austere man, Fisher was known to place a human skull on the altar during Mass and on the table during meals. [5]

Erasmus said of John Fisher: "He is the one man at this time who is incomparable for uprightness of life, for learning and for greatness of soul." [6]

By papal bull dated 14 October 1504, Fisher was appointed the bishop of Rochester at the personal insistence of Henry VII. [7] Rochester was then the poorest diocese in England and usually seen as a first step on an ecclesiastical career. Nonetheless, Fisher stayed there, presumably by his own choice, for the remaining 31 years of his life. At the same time, like any English bishop of his day, Fisher had certain state duties. In particular, he maintained a passionate interest in the University of Cambridge. In 1504 he was elected the university's chancellor. Re-elected annually for 10 years, Fisher ultimately received a lifetime appointment. At this date he is also said to have acted as tutor to the future king, Henry VIII. As a preacher his reputation was so great that Fisher was appointed to preach the funeral oration for King Henry VII and the Lady Margaret, both of whom died in 1509, the texts being extant. Besides his share in the Lady Margaret's foundations, Fisher gave further proof of his zeal for learning by inducing Erasmus to visit Cambridge. The latter attributes it ("Epistulae" 6:2) to Fisher's protection that the study of Greek was allowed to proceed at Cambridge without the active molestation that it encountered at Oxford. [2]

Despite his fame and eloquence, it was not long before Fisher came into conflict with the new King, his former pupil. The dispute arose over funds left by the Lady Margaret, the King's grandmother, for financing foundations at Cambridge.

In 1512 Fisher was nominated as one of the English representatives at the Fifth Council of the Lateran, then sitting, but his journey to Rome was postponed, and finally abandoned. [2]

Fisher has also been named, though without any real proof, as the true author of the royal treatise against Martin Luther entitled "Assertio septem sacramentorum" (Defence of the Seven Sacraments), published in 1521, which won for King Henry VIII the title "Fidei Defensor" (Defender of the Faith). Prior to this date Fisher had denounced various abuses in the church, urging the need for disciplinary reforms. On about 11 February 1526, at the King's command, he preached a famous sermon against Luther at St Paul's Cross, the open-air pulpit outside St Paul's Cathedral in London. This was in the wake of numerous other controversial writings the battle against heterodox teachings increasingly occupied Fisher's later years. In 1529 Fisher ordered the arrest of Thomas Hitton, a follower of William Tyndale, and subsequently interrogated him. Hitton was tortured and executed at the stake for heresy. [8]

When Henry tried to divorce his wife, Catherine of Aragon, Fisher became the Queen's chief supporter. [9] As such, he appeared on the Queen's behalf in the legates' court, where he startled the audience by the directness of his language and by declaring that, like St John the Baptist, he was ready to die on behalf of the indissolubility of marriage. [10] Henry VIII, upon hearing this, grew so enraged by it that he composed a long Latin address to the legates in answer to the bishop's speech. Fisher's copy of this still exists, with his manuscript annotations in the margin which show how little he feared the royal anger. [11] The removal of the cause to Rome brought Fisher's personal involvement to an end, but the King never forgave him for what he had done.

In November 1529, the "Long Parliament" of Henry's reign began encroaching on the Catholic Church's prerogatives. Fisher, as a member of the upper house, the House of Lords, at once warned Parliament that such acts could only end in the utter destruction of the Catholic Church in England. The Commons, through their speaker, complained to the King that Fisher had disparaged Parliament, presumably with Henry prompting them behind the scenes. The opportunity was not lost. Henry summoned Fisher before him, demanding an explanation. This being given, Henry declared himself satisfied, leaving it to the Commons to declare that the explanation was inadequate, so that he appeared as a magnanimous sovereign, instead of Fisher's enemy.

A year later, in 1530, the continued encroachments on the Church moved Fisher, as bishop of Rochester, along with the bishops of Bath and Ely, to appeal to the Holy See. This gave the King his opportunity and an edict forbidding such appeals was immediately issued, and the three bishops were arrested. Their imprisonment, however, must have lasted only a few months for in February 1531, Convocation met, and Fisher was present. This was the occasion when the clergy were forced, at a cost of 100,000 pounds, to purchase the King's pardon for having recognized Cardinal Wolsey's authority as legate of the pope and at the same time to acknowledge Henry as supreme head of the Church in England, to which phrase the addition of the clause "so far as God's law permits" was made through Fisher's efforts.

A few days later, several of Fisher's servants were taken ill after eating some porridge served to the household and two died. A cook, Richard Roose, was executed by boiling alive for attempted poisoning.

Fisher also engaged in secret activities to overthrow Henry. As early as 1531 he began secretly communicating with foreign diplomats. In September 1533 communicating secretly through the imperial ambassador Eustace Chapuys he encouraged Holy Roman Emperor Charles V to invade England and depose Henry in combination with a domestic uprising. [12]

Major causes of death before weaning

  • Hypothermia – Newborn kittens are predisposed to hypothermia because they cannot regulate their temperature and rely on the queen (and the environment) for warmth. Hypothermia is particularly harmful as it can result in decreased heart and respiratory rates which can lead to cardiovascular failure. Also, with hypothermia kittens often fail to suck milk effectively , which exacerbates the problem. The rectal temperature of kittens should be 35–37C in the first week, 36–38C in the second and third weeks, and reaches normal adult levels of 38–39C by the fourth week.
  • Low blood sugar (hypoglycaemia) – Newborn kittens have high energy requirements but no energy reserves so are highly dependent on the milk from the queen. Any kitten that is ill, stressed or has inadequate milk intake may rapidly develop hypoglycaemia. This may be seen as weakness, hypothermia, crying, difficult breathing, and ultimately seizures, coma and death.
  • Dehydration – Young kittens have a high risk of dehydration because their bodies have a higher water content and they are much less able to regulate water loss compared with adults, losing water readily through their kidneys, lungs and skin. Any diarrhoea will also increase water loss. The normal fluid requirements of a neonatal kitten are around 130-220 ml/kg/24h compared with just 50-65 ml/kg/24h for an adult. Dehydration will readily occur with inadequate milk intake or excessive fluid losses (usually as a result of overheating or diarrhoea).

Play and meaty food reduce hunting by cats

Domestic cats hunt wildlife less if owners play with them daily and feed them a meat-rich food, new research shows.

Hunting by cats is a conservation and welfare concern, but methods to reduce this are controversial and often rely on restricting cat behaviour in ways many owners find unacceptable.

The new study -- by the University of Exeter -- found that introducing a premium commercial food where proteins came from meat reduced the number of prey animals cats brought home by 36%, and also that five to ten minutes of daily play with an owner resulted in a 25% reduction.

"Previous research in this area has focussed on inhibiting cats' ability to hunt, either by keeping them indoors or fitting them with collars, devices and deterrents," said Professor Robbie McDonald, of Exeter's Environment and Sustainability Institute.

"While keeping cats indoors is the only sure-fire way to prevent hunting, some owners are worried about the welfare implications of restricting their cat's outdoor access.

"Our study shows that -- using entirely non-invasive, non-restrictive methods -- owners can change what the cats themselves want to do.

"By playing with cats and changing their diets, owners can reduce their impact on wildlife without restricting their freedom."

Play in the study involved owners simulating hunting by moving a feather toy on a string and wand so cats could stalk, chase and pounce. Owners also gave cats a toy mouse to play with after each "hunt," mimicking a real kill.

It is not clear what elements of the meaty food led to the reduction in hunting.

"Some cat foods contain protein from plant sources such as soy, and it is possible that despite forming a 'complete diet' these foods leave some cats deficient in one or more micronutrients -prompting them to hunt," said Martina Cecchetti, the PhD student who conducted the experiments.

"However, meat production raises clear climate and environmental issues, so one of our next steps is to find out whether specific micronutrients could be added to cat foods to reduce hunting.

"We also plan to investigate whether different kinds of play have different effects, and whether combining strategies can reduce hunting even further."

The study -- based on a 12-week trial of 355 cats in 219 households in south-west England -- also examined the effect of existing devices used to limit hunting by cats.

Colourful "Birdsbesafe" collar covers reduced numbers of birds captured and brought home by 42%, but had no effect on hunting of mammals.

Cat bells had no discernible overall effect -- although the researchers say the impact on individual cats varied widely, suggesting some cats learn to hunt successfully despite wearing a bell.

Lisa George, from Helston in Cornwall, who looks after Minnie, a three-year-old tabby cat who took part in the trial, said: "Minnie loves to hunt. More often than not, she will bring her prey home and let it go in the house. We've had birds in the bedroom, rats in the waste paper bin (which took us three days to catch), rabbits in the utility room.

"On changing Minnie's food (previously supermarket own-brand), to Lily's Kitchen, I found she hardly hunted at all. This continued the whole time she was on this food. I can honestly say I couldn't believe the difference as regards her hunting behaviour."

George Bradley, from project sponsors SongBird Survival, said: "This latest study we have funded is excellent news for birds.

"The data show that cat owners (like me) can make a few small and easy steps to really improve the health and happiness of our pets as well as make a really big difference for all our wildlife, especially our beloved songbirds.

"Making these easy-to-implement changes will be a win-win for birds, cats and cat owners."

Dr Sarah Ellis, Head of Cat Advocacy at iCatCare, which is part of the advisory group for this research project, said: "We are really encouraged by the findings of this study.

"While many cat owners are wildlife lovers and find the killing and injuring of wild animals by their cats upsetting, many owners also feel that keeping their cats indoors or restricting their outdoor access would impact negatively on their cats' quality of life.

"At iCatCare, we are particularly excited about the positive effects of play -- this is an activity that owners can easily introduce at no or little cost, takes little time and is very cat-friendly.

"The mental and physical stimulation of predatory-like play are likely to help keep a cat in tip top condition and provide an appropriate behavioural outlet for its predatory behaviours."

Dr Adam Grogan, Head of Wildlife at the RSPCA, welcomed the results of the study.

"The RSPCA cares for both cats and wild animals and we want to provide advice to cat owners that will benefit both cat and wild animal welfare," he said.

"This project provides us with alternatives for cat owners that are simple and effective and so easy to adopt."

Watch the video: Agnes Bowker give birth to a cat (February 2023).

Video, Sitemap-Video, Sitemap-Videos