Elizabeth Pease Nichol
|Elizabeth Pease Nichol|
|Born||5 January 1807
|Died||3 February 1897
|Known for||Abolitionist and suffragist|
|Relatives||John Beaumont Pease (brother)|
Elizabeth Pease Nichol (5 January 1807 – 3 February 1897) was an abolitionist, anti-segregationist, woman suffragist, chartist and anti-vivisectionist in 19th century Great Britain. She was active in the Peace Society, the Temperance movement and founded the Darlington Ladies Anti-Slavery Society. In 1853 she married Dr. John Pringle Nichol (1804–1859), Regius Professor of Astronomy at the University of Glasgow. She was one of about six women who were in the painting of the World Anti-Slavery Convention of 1840.
Elizabeth Pease was born in Darlington, England to Joseph Pease and his wife Elizabeth Beaumont, who were members of the Society of Friends (Quakers). Her father started the Peace Society the year of her birth, the same year that Great Britain abolished the slave trade in its empire, while allowing slavery to continue.
The Quakers held strong views about the value of educating girls as well as boys. Elizabeth attended a school with her brother and male cousins, she was one of only two girls attending the school. When the school closed down, her education had to be continued at home which was made difficult due to her mother's poor health. Elizabeth had to help care for her mother from a very early age.
By 1837, Pease was leading the Darlington Ladies Anti-Slavery Society. Charles Stuart, an Anti-Slavery abolitionist and lecturer, encouraged her to send a female delegate or attend a national society being formed by Joseph Sturge. Pease resisted more public involvement, as she did not seek the limelight but wanted to work locally for the causes she held to be important. In 1838 Nicholl published an important pamphlet with Jane Smeal titled Address to the Women of Great Britain. This document was a "call to arms" to British women to speak in public and to form their own anti-slavery organisations.
In 1840, Pease travelled to London to attend the World Anti-Slavery Convention beginning on 12 June, as did her friend, Eliza Wigham who was secretary of the Edinburgh Ladies Anti-Slavery Society. Before the conference started, she met American activists Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. These women were amongst the otherwise nearly all male American delegates at the conference.
Before the convention opened, the British organiser Joseph Sturge told the six women delegates they would not be allowed to participate. Leading English Anti-Slavery members had rebuked him for thinking this "insane innovation, this woman-intruding delusion," should be allowed. At the time, women did not generally participate in such public political and civic activities, and many people found it socially unacceptable. In addition, women attendees were required to sit in segregated areas out of sight of the male delegates.
Supporting the women's participation were some of the male delegates from the United States, including George Bradburn, Wendell Phillips, James Mott, William Adam, Isaac Winslow, J. P. Miller and Henry B. Stanton. William Lloyd Garrison, who did not arrive until the 17th, refused to take his seat until women had equality in seating. Unlike his fellow countrymen, Baptist Henry Grew spoke in favour of the men's right to exclude women, despite his daughter's being one of the excluded. The American women had to join British women observers, such as Lady Byron, Anne Knight and Pease, in a segregated area.
The picture above shows Pease in a painting commemorating the international event. It attracted delegates from the United States, France, Haiti, Australia, Ireland, Jamaica and Barbados, as well as Great Britain. With the exception of Mary Clarkson, the women are portrayed to the far right, with none in the foreground.
Pease attended with Anne Knight and several other friends, but it was only Knight and Pease of their circle who were among the women notables chosen for the painting. Other women included were Amelia Opie, Baroness Byron, Mary Anne Rawson, Mrs John Beaumont, Elizabeth Tredgold, Mary Clarkson and, at the back, Lucretia Mott.
Women's suffrage movement
After moving to Edinburgh, Elizabeth became the Treasurer for the Edinburgh chapter of the National Society for Women's Suffrage. A group including Eliza and Jane Wigham had set up the Edinburgh chapter of the National Society of Women's Suffrage. Eliza and her friend Agnes McLaren were the secretaries, and Priscilla Bright McLaren was the president. Pease was amongst four women associated with Edinburg who were the subject of a campaign by local historians in 2015. The group aimed to gain recognition for Elizabeth Pease Nichol, Priscilla Bright McLaren, Eliza Wigham and Jane Smeal – the city's "forgotten heroines".
Marriage and family
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In 1853 Pease married Dr. John Pringle Nichol (1804–1859), Regius Professor of Astronomy at the University of Glasgow and she moved to Edinburgh to live with him. Her family opposed the marriage, as Nicholl was a Presbyterian. According to the endogamous rules of the Quakers, Pease had to leave the Society of Friends.
- Clare Midgley, Women Against Slavery, p. 152
- Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
- The Anti-Slavery Society Convention, 1840, Benjamin Robert Haydon, 1841, National Portrait Gallery, London, NPG599, Given by British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society in 1880
- Stoddart, A.M. 1899. Elizabeth Pease Nichol. London: J.M. Dent & Co.
- Clare Midgley, Women Against Slavery, p. 51
- Pipes, editors, Elizabeth Ewan, Sue Innes, Siân Reynolds ; co-ordinating editor Rose (2006). The biographical dictionary of Scottish women from the earliest times to 2004. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. p. 376. ISBN 0748626603.
- Elizabeth Crawford, The Women's Suffrage Movement, p. 462, accessed 4 August 2008
- Frances H. Bradburn, A Memorial of George Bradburn, 1883
- Harriet H. Robinson, Massachusetts in the woman suffrage movement. A general, political, legal and legislative history from 1774, to 1881, accessed 19 July 2006
- Reforming Men and Women: Gender in the Antebellum City, Bruce Dorsey, p.179, 2002, ISBN 0-8014-3897-7 accessed 21 July 2008
- National Society of Women's Suffrage. Examiner; 14 January 1871; 3285; British Periodicals pg 55
- Eliza Wigham, The Scottish Suffragists, retrieved 30 May 2015
- Campaign to honour four 'forgotten' heroines of Scottish history, HeraldScotland, 2 June 2015, retrieved 5 June 2015