On Tuesday 17th July, 2018, I made my long anticipated trip to the Women’s Library housed in The London School of Economics. My reason for the visit was the following newspaper headline:
The date of this article was 23 December 1891. My hope was to at least find some mention of her and at best what her involvement was in the suffragette movement. But sadly, after trawling through scrapbooks and minutes books from 1891 on, alas, I found no mention of her. However, I did find one interesting document of that year, not published by the London office, but by the Manchester society which was one of the founding societies back in 1867. The document was an appeal to it’s supporters for donations to keep their work alive and is optimistic regarding a bill they hoped would soon be passed. Sadly, like so many more to come, it was rejected. But what interested me was that one of the executive committee members listed on the letter heading, was Jessie Fothergill. This was just months before she passed way in Switzerland.
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Jacob Bright - Vanity Fair 1877
What then became interesting was how this Manchester Society began. Archive records held in Manchester tell us;
‘The Manchester Society began in earnest on 11 January 1867, when Jacob Bright, Rev. S. A. Steinthal, Mrs. Gloyne, Max Kyllman and Elizabeth Wolstenholme met at the house of Dr. Louis Borchardt.’
The mention of Jacob Bright rang some genealogical bells. He was the brother of Thomas Bright who was married to Caroline Coultate. Caroline was the sister of Ann who married Thomas Fothergill who gave birth to among others, Jessie and Caroline. So Jacob Bright was uncle by marriage to Jessie and Caroline Fothergill.
Whilst this is of only of trivial interest, what is more intriguing is just how much social history is still to be discovered locked up in the lives of these dynamic people living in the industrial towns of Lancahire. The Bright, Fothergill and Coultate families were very much at the heart of the social movements of the day.