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Weds 6th April 2022 Seminar – Ciara Stewart and Emily Rhodes ‘Women’s Petitioning’

6th April 2022 with Dr Ciara Stewart and Emily Rhodes, a duet focusing on Women’s Petitioning

Join us for this duet focusing on Women’s Petitioning in our Spring Series, featuring Dr Ciara Stewart, with the paper titled: ‘”Tyrannous and Immoral Law” Petitioning Against the Contagious Diseases Acts in Britain and Ireland: A Comparative Perspective’ and PhD Candidate Emily Rhodes with the paper titled: ‘”For the Sake of he Poore Children”: Petitioning Mothers in England 1660-1720’

This seminar will take place on Wednesday 6th April at 4pm (GMT)

Register for your place on the Zoom webinar here!


“‘The Tyrannous and Immoral Law” Petitioning Against the Contagious Diseases Acts in Britain and Ireland: A Comparative Perspective’.

Between 1864 and 1869, Parliament in Britain passed the ‘Contagious Diseases Acts’, which allowed for the forced sanitary inspection of prostitutes in Britain and Ireland. These Acts inspired the formation of a feminist inspired campaign the ‘Ladies’ National Association for the Repeal of the Contagious Diseases Acts’ (LNA).
The LNA saw the Acts as an attack on the bodily autonomy of women and on the conduction of public social morality. Branches were formed in both Britain and Ireland and petitioning was at the forefront of their campaign.

This paper will analyse the geographical patterns of Irish petitioning by using statistics found in the Englishwomen’s Review and in the reports of the Select Committee on Public Petitions (SCPP). This paper will argue the importance of petitioning as a form of political activity which allowed Irish women to become involved in the Repeal campaign, as well as, providing a comparative perspective on the methods utilised by the LNA in England and Ireland. This paper will also demonstrate how women’s political activism could be fuelled and inspired by conservative and traditional ideals.

About the Speaker:

Dr Ciara Stewart Profile Picture

Dr Ciara Stewart holds an MA in Irish history from University College Dublin and a PhD from Durham University. She specialises in the history of nineteenth-century Irish women’s political movements and petitioning.


‘”For the Sake of her Poore Children”: Petitioning Mothers in England, 1660-1720’.

My paper will introduce my PhD research on the social and cultural history of mother petitioners in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries in England. In specific, it will study mothers who petitioned on behalf of their sons who were condemned criminals. It analyses the rhetorical strategies used by these mothers to uncover attitudes towards crime and family in this period.

About the Speaker:

Emily Rhodes Profile Picture

Emily Rhodes is in the second year of her PhD in History at the University of Cambridge. Her PhD studies mothers’ petitions in late seventeenth- and early eighteenth-century England and Wales, and uses them to explore to social and cultural experiences of motherhood in the early modern period. She received an MPhil in Early Modern History from the University of Cambridge in 2020, where her dissertation studied women’s petitions in support of criminals written to the late Stuart monarchs and won the Women History Network’s MA Dissertation Prize. You can find her on Twitter @elrhodes96

Register for your place on the Zoom webinar here.

We do have a limit of 100 attendees, but you can also view the livestream of the seminar on the Women’s History Network Facebook page (available for 24 hours).

Don’t miss out on this duet seminar!

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