This article addresses three topics. It describes Chartisms creation of a ‘peoples history’ as an alternative to middle-class history, whether Whig or Tory. It locates the sources, most of which have not been noticed before, for the Chartist narrative of the English Reformation. William Cobbetts reinterpretation of the English Reformation is well known as a source for the working-class narrative; William Howitts much less familiar but more important source, antedating Cobbetts History of the Protestant Reformation in England, is used for the first time. The article reconstructs that narrative using printed and manuscript lectures and published interpretations dating from the first discussions of the Peoples Charter in 1836 to the last Chartist Convention in 1858. The manuscript lectures of Thomas Cooper are an essential but little-used source. The article contributes to historical understanding of the intellectual life of the English working class.
Roman Catholic women's congregations are an enigma of nineteenth century social history. Over 10,000 women, establishing and managing significant Catholic educational, health care and social welfare institutions in England and Wales, have virtually disappeared from history. In nineteenth-century England, representations of women religious were ambiguous and contested from both within and without the convent. This book places women religious in the centre of nineteenth-century social history and reveals how religious activism shaped the identity of Catholic women religious. It is devoted to evolution of religious life and the early monastic life of the women. Catholic women were not pushed into becoming women religious. On the basis of their available options, they chose a path that best suited their personal, spiritual, economic and vocational needs. The postulancy and novitiate period formed a rite of passage that tested the vocation of each aspirant. The book explores the religious activism of women religious through their missionary identity and professional identity. The labour of these women was linked to their role as evangelisers. The book deals with the development of a congregation's corporate identity which brought together a disparate group of women under the banner of religious life. It looks specifically at class and ethnicity and the women who entered religious life, and identifies the source of authority for the congregation and the individual sister.
Irish Women and the Creation of Modern Catholicism is the only book-length study of lay Catholic women in modern Irish history. Focusing on the pivotal century from 1850 to 1950, it analyses the roles that middle-class, working-class, and rural poor lay women played in the evolution of Irish Catholicism and thus the creation of modern Irish identities. This project demonstrates that in an age of Church growth and renewal stretching from the aftermath of the Great Famine through the early years of the Irish Republic, lay women were essential to all aspects of Catholic devotional life, including both home-based religion and public Catholic rituals. It also reveals that women, by rejecting, negotiating, and reworking Church dictates, complicated Church and clerical authority. Irish Women and the Creation of Modern Catholicism re-evaluates the relationship between the institutional Church, the clergy, and women, positioning lay Catholic women as central actors in the making of modern Ireland. It also contests views that the increasing power of the Catholic Church caused a uniform decline in Irish women’s status after the Great Famine of the 1840s, revealing that middle-class, working-class, and rural poor lay women fought with their priests, dominated household religion, and led parish rituals, thus proving integral to the development of a modern Irish Catholic ethos and culture.
modern.17 Whether married wives and mothers, adult daughters, or domestic servants, and whatever their economic circumstances, in most parts of the island, women in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries navigated life within an atmosphere of heightened Catholic patriarchy. By hastening population decline,18 the Great Famine paved the way for both the growth of a powerful Catholic middle class (featuring thousands of nuns and priests) and the revitalisation of the institutional Catholic Church. Historians in the past few decades have analysed how Ireland
. 203–4). 15 Megan Matchinske, Writing, Gender and State in Early Modern England: Identity Formation and the Female Subject (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), p. 12. 16 Kath Woodward, ‘Concepts of Identity and Difference’, in Kath Woodward, ed., Identity and Difference (London: Sage, 1997), p. 15; Alan Kidd and David Nicholls, ‘Introduction: History, Culture and the Middle Classes’, in Alan Kidd and David Nicholls, eds, Gender, Civic Culture and Consumerism: Middle-Class Identity in Britain, 1800–1940 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1999), p. 6
due to Ireland’s previous small population of priests (compared to a growing population of parishioners) and a lack of both chapels and available devotions.12 Only after the rural poor were decimated by the 1840s famine did a numerous and disciplined priesthood, supported by a prosperous, powerful middle class, emerge and make Ireland’s people truly Catholic. In Larkin’s view, the ‘devotional revolution’ was a top-down phenomenon led by male members of the Church hierarchy. This ‘revolution’, he argues, gave way to greater episcopal control over the clergy and
reveals, is that Irish women – rural and urban, lower-class and conclusion 241 middle-class, and across a century of unprecedented political and economic change – were consistently active in the creation of modern Catholicism, emerging, in the process, not as mere symbols but also key contributors to the family, community, faith, and future. Notes 1 Eamonn McKee, ‘Church-state relations and the development of Irish health policy: the Mother-and-Child Scheme, 1944–1953’, Irish Historical Studies 25: 98 (1986), p. 171. 2 Letter from Catholic hierarchy to the
Children of Poor Catholics and Providing an Asylum for Destitute Orphans, 1811–1861’ (1995), p. 139. Cited from National Archives, CCE AR 1850/1, p. 818. Patricia Branca, Silent Sisterhood: Middle-Class Women in the Victorian Home (London: Croom-Helm, 1975), p. 152. Class and ethnicity 183 Conduct manuals published in the nineteenth century instructed Victorian women on how to achieve this perfection.4 Women religious had their own specialised version of these secular conduct manuals. Constitutions, customs books, religious biographies and necrologies were some of the
establish and maintain authority as he brought the messages of a revitalised Church and new ways of understanding and practicing religion to a laity who was sometimes suspicious and wary of his modern ways. For priests working in the post-famine decades, the world of the rural Irish parish could be unfamiliar and strange. Many priests came from middle-class families and were accustomed to middleclass ways, including English-language literacy.28 Indeed, the post-famine clergy was wedded to a culture of literacy. In parish life, the priest consistently wielded his pen as a
Frances Taylor to the Tertian sisters. Leonore Davidoff, The Best Circles: Society Etiquette and the Season (London: The Cresset Library, 1986), p. 54; Carol Dyhouse, ‘Mothers and Daughters in the Middle-Class Home, c. 1870–1914’, in Jane Lewis, ed., Labour & Love: Women’s Experience of Home and Family 1850–1940 (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1986), pp. 27–48 (p. 39). John Tosh, ‘Authority and Nurture in Middle-Class Fatherhood: The Case of Early and Mid-Victorian England’, Gender & History, 8 (1996), 48–64 (p. 53). Sean Gill, Women and the Church of England from the