Ar­gu­ing their case

Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine - - WOMEN & TEM­PER­ANCE - Ros Black is the au­thor of Scan­dal, Sal­va­tion and Sufffff­frage: The Amaz­ing Women of The Tem­per­ance Move­ment (Troubador, 2015, paper­back £10.99, e-book £4.99).

cam­paigned for so­cial pu­rity, were also staunch sup­port­ers of tem­per­ance.

It took brave peo­ple to ques­tion the drink­ing cul­ture and to at­tack the vested in­ter­ests of the pub­li­cans, brew­ers and busi­ness­men who had bought deben­tures in the in­dus­try. But the Vic­to­rian tem­per­ance move­ment pro­duced many such brave men and women. Their cam­paign­ing en­cour­aged a sig­nif­i­cant per­cent­age of the pop­u­la­tion (10 per cent by 1900 ac­cord­ing to many es­ti­mates) to sign the pledge, re­nounc­ing al­co­holic bev­er­ages. By the turn of the cen­tury, the num­ber of pubs in Eng­land had de­creased and al­ter­na­tives such as tem­per­ance ho­tels and cof­fee shops had sprung up.

Yet the work of these so­cial re­form­ers, es­pe­cially the women, has been largely for­got­ten about to­day – per­haps be­cause many of us en­joy the oc­ca­sional drink and don’t want to be made to feel guilty about do­ing so.

To some cam­paign­ers, tem­per­ance meant mod­er­a­tion in drink­ing habits. Oth­ers ad­vo­cated to­tal ab­sti­nence and some, like the UK Al­liance, pushed for pro­hi­bi­tion. The move­ment was par­tic­u­larly strong in Scot­land and the north of Eng­land.

The ‘fa­ther of tee­to­tal­ism’

Joseph Livesey, a cheese­mon­ger from Pre­ston, Lan­cashire, is widely re­garded as the ‘ fa­ther of tee­to­tal­ism’. In 1832 he, along with six oth­ers, set up the first Tee­to­tal So­ci­ety. He ar­gued that peo­ple could bet­ter them­selves by not drink­ing; they would have more money and gain more re­spect in so­ci­ety. His dra­matic ‘malt lec­ture’ where he set fire to his sam­ples, was de­vised to demon­strate that beer did con­tain al­co­hol (a fact dis­puted by many) and pro­vided lit­tle bod­ily sus­te­nance. This talk and demon­stra­tion be­came a sta­ple fare at tem­per­ance ral­lies, and not just in the north. A tran­script of the diary of Thomas Cramp, a tem­per­ance cam­paigner from East Grin­stead, Sus­sex, is held at East Grin­stead Mu­seum. In an en­try for Novem­ber 1889, Cramp records how, at a Band of Hope meet­ing, “I had my ap­pa­ra­tus, and a Bot­tle of Stout, and ex­tracted the spirit.”

Start­ing young

The Band of Hope was a chil­dren’s tem­per­ance or­gan­i­sa­tion. It started in Leeds in 1847 when a tem­per­ance worker from Ire­land, Mrs Anne Jane Carlile, was in­vited by the Rev­erend Jabez Tun­ni­cliff, of the Leeds Tem­per­ance So­ci­ety, to ad­dress a group of chil­dren. Mrs Carlile, aged 70 at the time, had a gift for en­gag­ing young peo­ple and her well-re­ceived meet­ing led to the for­ma­tion of the Leeds Band of Hope, specif­i­cally for chil­dren. Soon there was a na­tional Band of Hope Union and branches through­out the coun­try. Its motto, “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not de­part”, was taken from the Book of Proverbs. It spawned a huge in­dus­try of books, black­board ad­dresses, mu­sic and magic lan­tern shows. There were also jour­nals such as On­ward and The Band of Hope Re­view.

By 1891, more than two mil­lion chil­dren were en­rolled in Band of Hope groups. By 1897, 50 years on from its hum­ble be­gin­nings in Leeds, there were over three mil­lion mem­bers. So you may well un­cover a Band of Hope mem­ber­ship cer­tifi­cate in your own fam­ily pa­pers. The pop­u­lar­ity of the or­gan­i­sa­tion might have been partly due to the fact that it pro­vided free en­ter­tain­ment for chil­dren, with out­ings, choirs and bands. But its in­flu­ence was im­mense. It pro­duced a gen­er­a­tion which was more aware of the per­ils of al­co­hol abuse. The plain­tive voices of chil­dren could strike at the hearts of hard­ened drinkers es­pe­cially through songs such as Come Home Fa­ther. The work with chil­dren also pro­vided an ac­cept­able oc­cu­pa­tion for women and helped bridge the rigid class struc­ture of the era.

There were other chil­dren’s tem­per­ance or­gan­i­sa­tions such as The Sons (or Daugh­ters) of Tem­per­ance and The Rech­abites, a friendly so­ci­ety which pro­moted ab­sti­nence. Many Quak­ers, in­clud­ing women, were prom­i­nent in the move­ment.

Sal­va­tion through so­bri­ety

There was often an evan­gel­i­cal el­e­ment to the work. Sal­va­tion through so­bri­ety was a com­mon theme. Mis­sion­ar­ies came over from Amer­ica and ad­dressed great ral­lies. The Bri­tish Women’s Tem­per­ance As­so­ci­a­tion was founded in 1876 when El­iza Ste­wart, a prom­i­nent Amer­i­can, vis­ited Eng­land. By the 1890s, the As­so­ci­a­tion’s third pres­i­dent, Lady Henry Som­er­set fre­quently trav­elled to Amer­ica and be­came hugely pop­u­lar on both sides of the At­lantic.

Nov­els and car­toons lam­pooned the drink­ing habits of the clergy and, whilst this may have been ex­ag­ger­ated a lit­tle, the es­tab­lished church was slow to em­brace the call for tem­per­ance. Rev­erends also had another prob­lem with fe­male tem­per­ance cam­paign­ers, for these women dared to

By 1891, more than two mil­ion chil­dren were en­rolled in Band of Hope groups

speak to their au­di­ences about God and that, in their opin­ion, was their own role – no one else’s.

Sarah Robin­son faced ma­jor op­po­si­tion from Archdea­con Wright, the mil­i­tary chap­lain in Portsmouth when she was try­ing to set up her Sol­diers’ In­sti­tute.

But Sarah had the last laugh. The archdea­con’s op­po­si­tion brought a lot of pub­lic­ity for her work and she de­clared she was al­most sad to see him leave the town when he was passed over for pro­mo­tion.

The Church of Eng­land Tem­per­ance So­ci­ety was es­tab­lished in 1862 and be­came a pow­er­ful force for good. It ini­ti­ated the role of Po­lice Court Mis­sion­ar­ies, the fore­run­ners of our pro­ba­tion ser­vice. Through its aux­il­iary branch, The Woman’s Union, it em­ployed fe­males to work with women and chil­dren and even set up some small homes for fe­male drunk­ards.

This was an idea which Lady Henry Som­er­set would take much fur­ther, with Dux­hurst, her “farm colony for ine­bri­ate women”, as it was de­scribed in Whi­taker’s

Almanac. This vil­lage, just south of Reigate, Sur­rey, be­came a model for the cure of women with al­co­hol prob­lems from all classes of so­ci­ety. Lady Henry had per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence of the dev­as­ta­tion that al­co­holism could cause; one of her own friends had com­mit­ted sui­cide be­cause of a drink prob­lem. So at Dux­hurst, she cre­ated a mi­cro­cosm of so­ci­ety. The ex­ist­ing manor house was used for the rich and fa­mous, who could af­ford to pay their way. Hope Cot­tage housed mid­dle class women who could pay a lit­tle. For the work­ing class women, a group of thatched cot­tages was built around a vil­lage green, with a com­mu­nity hall for meals and meet­ings – a huge con­trast to the slums from which they had come!

Dux­hurst had a church, a hospi­tal, laun­dries, work­shops, green­houses, or­chards, laven­der fields, even a pot­tery. Lady Henry was a great be­liever in oc­cu­pa­tional ther­apy and the goods pro­duced were sold to help fund the en­ter­prise. The gar­dens, the pres­ence of chil­dren in their own home on site and the quiet reli­gious at­mos­phere of the place, all helped heal trou­bled minds and broke down class bar­ri­ers. In her book Beauty for Ashes, Lady Henry claimed a 73 per cent suc­cess rate over a seven-year pe­riod, although she was adept at ex­clud­ing some cat­e­gories of women, such as the ‘in­sane’ who did not re­spond to the Dux­hurst regime.

Dux­hurst has long dis­ap­peared but other tem­per­ance vil­lages like Sal­taire, in York­shire (built by Ti­tus Salt for his em­ploy­ees) re­main. For as Bri­tain be­came more in­dus­tri­alised, some fac­tory own­ers re­alised the ben­e­fits of a sober work­force.

Tem­per­ance records

Some records of tem­per­ance so­ci­eties do still ex­ist but they are scat­tered thinly and often lie in dusty boxes, nei­ther cat­a­logued nor pri­ori­tised, in lo­cal mu­se­ums or ar­chives.

The Livesey Col­lec­tion at UCLAN in Pre­ston has a wealth of ma­te­rial but there is lit­tle fo­cus on the role women played in the move­ment. The In­sti­tute of Al­co­hol Stud­ies in Lon­don also holds records of var­i­ous tem­per­ance or­gan­i­sa­tions such as The Na­tional Tem­per­ance League (NTL) and the Bri­tish Women’s Tem­per­ance As­so­ci­a­tion.

Parish mag­a­zines from the late-19th cen­tury can pro­vide an in­ter­est­ing glimpse into tem­per­ance ac­tiv­i­ties. They often in­cluded tem­per­ance tracts or po­ems or no­tices of forth­com­ing mis­sions, with vis­it­ing speak­ers.

In lo­cal news­pa­per ar­chives (e.g. The Hast­ings & St Leonard’s Ob­server), you might be sur­prised to read of dis­or­der, even ri­ot­ing, when tem­per­ance ad­vo­cates clashed with drunken youths. The Sal­va­tion Army pro­moted to­tal ab­sti­nence, at­tract­ing some colour­ful ad­vo­cates, re­formed drinkers them­selves, such as ‘Happy El­iza’, a Hal­lelu­jah Lass who marched around singing and play­ing the vi­o­lin.

But lo­cal brew­ers and pub­li­cans, fear­ing the Sal­va­tion­ists’ in­flu­ence, would fuel

‘Skele­ton Ar­mies’ with free beer to mock their pa­rades. Vi­o­lence often fol­lowed.

Mid­dle and up­per class women would set up cot­tage meet­ings, invit­ing other women to come along for prayer and sup­port. They in­sti­gated house calls where drunk­ards were known to re­side and they would try to per­suade the er­rant hus­band not to re­turn to the pub. The gen­tle per­sua­sion of a soft­lyspo­ken fe­male often found its tar­get.

Sign­ing the pledge of­fered some hope and en­cour­age­ment to all the fam­ily. Of course, the pledge could al­ways be broken but in a sur­pris­ing num­ber of cases it seemed to fo­cus the mind and lead to more re­spon­si­ble be­hav­iour. Women be­came adept at cam­paign­ing at lo­cal brew­sters ses­sions when li­cences came up for re­newal. They would ar­rive en masse wear­ing the white rib­bon brooch of the Bri­tish Women’s Tem­per­ance As­so­ci­a­tion. They be­haved in a very civil man­ner and often one of the women would be al­lowed to ad­dress the bench. They would ar­gue strongly as to why a li­cence should not be granted or re­newed, per­haps be­cause it was close to a lo­cal school or in an area that was al­ready flooded with pub­lic houses. The women al­ways went pre­pared with facts and statis­tics and they often won the day.

In bat­tling to pro­mote tem­per­ance and to pro­vide prac­ti­cal as­sis­tance to those brought low by al­co­hol abuse, many women dis­cov­ered their voice and or­gan­i­sa­tional skills. It is no sur­prise that most wanted greater equal­ity with men, in­clud­ing the right to vote. In fact, this is­sue split the ranks of the Bri­tish Women’s Tem­per­ance As­so­ci­a­tion (BWTA) in 1894.

The As­so­ci­a­tion’s pres­i­dent, Lady Henry Som­er­set pro­duced a Pro­gres­sive Pol­icy, in­cor­po­rat­ing many fem­i­nist ideals. Some of the ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee flounced off, to set up a sep­a­rate or­gan­i­sa­tion to deal solely with the tem­per­ance is­sue. But Lady Henry and the ma­jor­ity of the mem­bers re­alised women’s suf­frage was in­trin­si­cally linked to their work. They needed the vote to per­suade politi­cians to en­act ap­pro­pri­ate leg­is­la­tion.

Yet most tem­per­ance fem­i­nists, in­clud­ing Ros­alind Howard, Countess of Carlisle – Lady Henry’s suc­ces­sor at the BWTA – were suf­frag­ists rather than suf­fragettes, pre­fer­ring rea­soned ar­gu­ment to vi­o­lent demon­stra­tion. Per­haps this is another rea­son that their work has been so ne­glected by his­tory. The tem­per­ance women strug­gle to com­pete with graphic im­ages of their sis­ters chained to rail­ings but they de­serve to be re­mem­bered for their achieve­ments and their fas­ci­nat­ing per­sonal sto­ries.

A gath­er­ing of The Band of Hope at Ex­eter Cathe­dral dur­ing the Ed­war­dian era

A Tem­per­ance So­ci­ety cof­fee stall

A man takes the tem­per­ance pledge, c1850

Mem­bers of the Evan­gel­i­cal Church Army pro­fess their love for God and tem­per­ance, c1900

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