chapter  5
23 Pages

‘Petticoat Reformers’

WithMalcolm I. Thomis, Jennifer Grimmett

The emergence of women as a force in British politics occurs in that post-Napoleonic War period which also produced the first popular working-class reform movements. Before this time there had been popular movements in the shape of food riots, reform movements such as that of the London Corresponding Society which involved an artisan elite, and revolutionary movements of obscure history and unknown strength which drew other working-class men into politics. The riot was still their popular form of expression, even when there were political causes involved, as in the Gordon Riots of 1780 or in the anti-militia and anti-recruitment riots of the same period. There is nothing surprising about their readiness to join the post-war parliamentary reform movement, which must surely have occurred irrespective of the patronage of Samuel Bamford, who took personal credit for their initiation into the formal procedures of male reformers, though not for first inviting their attendance at meetings.