Britannia's Address to her Fair Daughters - a radical call to women from the Enoch Wood scrapbook

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Date:21st of March 1817

Description:Love of country is not sexual; in every age, in every country, it has warmed and animated the female breast...

In the early 19th century, women were among the most forward-thinking political activists of their generation - and this despite not having the opportunity to vote in national elections until more than 100 years later.

This notice calls on men and women alike to help bring about a so-called "petticoatocracy." This is imagined as a kind of new, feminine version of Britain in which damaging wars started by "degenerate Sons" are replaced by dynamic trade.

The Peterloo Massacre

Many of these ideas were later voiced at around the time of the Peterloo Massacre in Manchester.

This occurred in 1819, when men, women and children, campaigning for reform of Parliament, were brutally beaten down by the Manchester Yeomanry.

"A ruinous, unjust and unnecessary war..."

The authors of the notice imagine the figure of Britannia talking with her daughters.

She worries that the country is on its way down in the wake of years of war with France:

A great nation of Merchants, of the first traders of the globe, is sinking fast into a "Nation of Shopkeepers."

The authors steer clear of aggression. Instead, Britannia beckons, "I invite you not to the use of arms... but of arts."

She continues with an appeal to readers' morals, because "luxury, sloth, selfishness and insensibility to the public welfare" have taken hold.


"Petticoatocracy" can perform wonders, can save a sinking country.

About this document

This document was printed by J. Molineux, of St. Mary's Gate, Manchester.

It was collected by Burslem pottery manufacturer Enoch Wood and is now among the collections at Stoke-on-Trent Museums.


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