chapter  16
12 Pages

Gender, Philanthropy and Civic Identities in Edinburgh, 1795–1830

WithJane Rendall

This chapter considers both female societies and women's participation in male-led societies for evidence of women's identification with the regulation of Edinburgh and its working-class population. It seeks to demonstrate the ways in which philanthropy was structured by gender, in relation both to the objects of relief and to the modes of action open to elite men and women. The city of Edinburgh was a national capital without a parliament, yet it was the base for the administration of Scotland, the independent Scottish legal system and the regular annual meetings of the established Presbyterian Church of Scotland. The Scottish poor law and educational system, both administered by the local kirk session, were very different from those of England, the major Scottish cities faced the same social problems as English cities did. The Edinburgh Society for the Suppression of Beggars was established in January 1813 at a time when economic distress meant the proliferation of beggars on the streets in Edinburgh.