Elizabeth Pease Nichol

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Elizabeth Pease Nichol
Elizabeth Pease

5 January 1807
Darlington, England
Died3 February 1897(1897-02-03) (aged 90)
Edinburgh, Scotland
Known forAbolitionist and suffragist

Elizabeth Nichol (née Pease; 5 January 1807 – 3 February 1897) was a 19th-century British abolitionist, anti-segregationist, woman suffragist, chartist[1] and anti-vivisectionist.[2] 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.[3]


Early life[edit]

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 was a founder of the Peace Society.[4]

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, one of only two girls at the school. When it closed down, her education continued at home, where it was disrupted by her mother's poor health: Elizabeth nursed her mother from an early age.[2][5]

Public life[edit]

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.[6]

In 1838 Pease published an important pamphlet with Jane Smeal titled Address to the Women of Great Britain. This document was a call to action to British women, asking them to speak in public and to form their own anti-slavery organisations.[7]

1840 Convention[edit]

Isaac Crewdson (Beaconite) writerSamuel Jackman Prescod - Barbadian JournalistWilliam Morgan from BirminghamWilliam Forster - Quaker leaderGeorge Stacey - Quaker leaderWilliam Forster - Anti-Slavery ambassadorJohn Burnet -Abolitionist SpeakerWilliam Knibb -Missionary to JamaicaJoseph Ketley from GuyanaGeorge Thompson - UK & US abolitionistJ. Harfield Tredgold - British South African (secretary)Josiah Forster - Quaker leaderSamuel Gurney - the Banker's BankerSir John Eardley-WilmotDr Stephen Lushington - MP and JudgeSir Thomas Fowell BuxtonJames Gillespie Birney - AmericanJohn BeaumontGeorge Bradburn - Massachusetts politicianGeorge William Alexander - Banker and TreasurerBenjamin Godwin - Baptist activistVice Admiral MoorsonWilliam TaylorWilliam TaylorJohn MorrisonGK PrinceJosiah ConderJoseph SoulJames Dean (abolitionist)John Keep - Ohio fund raiserJoseph EatonJoseph Sturge - Organiser from BirminghamJames WhitehorneJoseph MarriageGeorge BennettRichard AllenStafford AllenWilliam Leatham, bankerWilliam BeaumontSir Edward Baines - JournalistSamuel LucasFrancis Augustus CoxAbraham BeaumontSamuel Fox, Nottingham grocerLouis Celeste LecesneJonathan BackhouseSamuel BowlyWilliam Dawes - Ohio fund raiserRobert Kaye Greville - BotanistJoseph Pease - reformer in India)W.T.BlairM.M. Isambert (sic)Mary Clarkson -Thomas Clarkson's daughter in lawWilliam TatumSaxe Bannister - PamphleteerRichard Davis Webb - IrishNathaniel Colver - Americannot knownJohn Cropper - Most generous LiverpudlianThomas ScalesWilliam JamesWilliam WilsonThomas SwanEdward Steane from CamberwellWilliam BrockEdward BaldwinJonathon MillerCapt. Charles Stuart from JamaicaSir John Jeremie - JudgeCharles Stovel - BaptistRichard Peek, ex-Sheriff of LondonJohn SturgeElon GalushaCyrus Pitt GrosvenorRev. Isaac BassHenry SterryPeter Clare -; sec. of Literary & Phil. Soc. ManchesterJ.H. JohnsonThomas PriceJoseph ReynoldsSamuel WheelerWilliam BoultbeeDaniel O'Connell - "The Liberator"William FairbankJohn WoodmarkWilliam Smeal from GlasgowJames Carlile - Irish Minister and educationalistRev. Dr. Thomas BinneyEdward Barrett - Freed slaveJohn Howard Hinton - Baptist ministerJohn Angell James - clergymanJoseph CooperDr. Richard Robert Madden - IrishThomas BulleyIsaac HodgsonEdward SmithSir John Bowring - diplomat and linguistJohn EllisC. Edwards Lester - American writerTapper Cadbury - Businessmannot knownThomas PinchesDavid Turnbull - Cuban linkEdward AdeyRichard BarrettJohn SteerHenry TuckettJames Mott - American on honeymoonRobert Forster (brother of William and Josiah)Richard RathboneJohn BirtWendell Phillips - AmericanJean-Baptiste Symphor Linstant de Pradine from HaitiHenry Stanton - AmericanProf William AdamMrs Elizabeth Tredgold - British South AfricanT.M. McDonnellMrs John BeaumontAnne Knight - FeministElizabeth Pease - SuffragistJacob Post - Religious writerAnne Isabella, Lady Byron - mathematician and estranged wifeAmelia Opie - Novelist and poetMrs Rawson - Sheffield campaignerThomas Clarkson's grandson Thomas ClarksonThomas MorganThomas Clarkson - main speakerGeorge Head Head - Banker from CarlisleWilliam AllenJohn ScobleHenry Beckford - emancipated slave and abolitionistUse your cursor to explore (or Click "i" to enlarge)
Pease is on the right edge in this painting which is of the 1840 Anti-Slavery Convention.[3]

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 it started, she met American activists Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.[8][9]

Before the convention opened, Sturge, the British organiser, 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.[citation needed] At the time, women attendees were required to sit in segregated areas out of sight of the male delegates. The matter became contentious because some of the male delegates from the United States supporting the women's participation. They included 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 17 June,[10] refused to take his seat until women had equality in seating.[11] Henry Grew, an American Baptist spoke in favour of the men's right to exclude women, despite his daughter's being one of those affected.[12] The result was that 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.[3] 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.[3]

Women's suffrage movement[edit]

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,[13] and Priscilla Bright McLaren was the president.[14]

Marriage and family[edit]

Grave of Elizabeth Pease Nichol, Grange Cemetery, Edinburgh

In 1853 Elizabeth married Dr. John Pringle Nichol (1804–1859), Regius Professor of Astronomy at the University of Glasgow and she moved to Glasgow to live with him. Her family opposed the marriage, as Nichol was a Presbyterian. Under the endogamous rules of the Quakers, Pease had to leave the Society of Friends.

On his death she moved to Edinburgh living at Huntly Lodge in the Merchiston district.[15]

She is buried with her husband in Grange Cemetery in Edinburgh.[16]


Pease was amongst four women associated with Edinburgh 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".[17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Clare Midgley, Women Against Slavery, p. 152
  2. ^ a b Midgely, Clare. "Nichol, Elizabeth Pease". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/55204. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  3. ^ a b c d 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
  4. ^ Lee, Sidney, ed. (1895). "Pease, Edward" . Dictionary of National Biography. Vol. 44. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
  5. ^ Stoddart, Anna M. (1899). Elizabeth Pease Nichol. London: J.M. Dent & Co. hdl:2027/hvd.rsll8k.
  6. ^ Midgley, Clare (1995). Women Against Slavery: The British Campaigns, 1780-1870. Taylor & Francis. p. 220. ISBN 9780203645314.
  7. ^ Elizabeth Ewan; Sue Innes; Siân Reynolds; Rose Pipes, eds. (2006). The biographical dictionary of Scottish women from the earliest times to 2004. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. p. 376. ISBN 0748626603.
  8. ^ Crawford, Elizabeth (2001). The Women's Suffrage Movement: A Reference Guide, 1866-1928. Psychology Press. p. 463. ISBN 9780415239264. Retrieved 7 April 2018.
  9. ^ Elizabeth Crawford, The Women's Suffrage Movement, p. 462, accessed 4 August 2008
  10. ^ Frances H. Bradburn, A Memorial of George Bradburn, 1883
  11. ^ Harriet H. Robinson, Massachusetts in the woman suffrage movement. A general, political, legal and legislative history from 1774, to 1881, accessed 19 July 2006
  12. ^ Dorsey, Bruce (2002). Reforming Men and Women: Gender in the Antebellum City. Cornell University Press. p. 179. ISBN 9780801438974. Retrieved 7 April 2018.
  13. ^ National Society of Women's Suffrage. Examiner; 14 January 1871; 3285; British Periodicals pg 55
  14. ^ Eliza Wigham Archived 31 May 2015 at the Wayback Machine, The Scottish Suffragists, retrieved 30 May 2015
  15. ^ Edinburgh Post Office Directory 1861
  16. ^ Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
  17. ^ Campaign to honour four 'forgotten' heroines of Scottish history, HeraldScotland, 2 June 2015, retrieved 5 June 2015